I have found that the conservative discussion of race, at least as reflected in the man they elected to the highest office, generally takes two approaches.
Approach 1: Why Do Liberals Want To Make Everything About Race?
In this one, conservatives reject the “overly politically correct” demands of liberals regarding race. They complain that the smallest verbal missteps are enough to get someone irrevocably labeled as racist. Of course, they universally claim none of them are racist. How often have you heard Trump go even further and declare himself “the least racist person” of anyone?
In particular, they express frustration that their positions on issues are so often reduced to racism. They claim non-racist reasons for their beliefs and resent the constant attributing of their beliefs to racism.
For example, they insist the only reason they want to build a border wall is to protect national sovereignty and the rule of law. They claim to love legal immigrants. They say it is only the illegals, the ones who cheat the system, that they don’t like.
Never mind that rhetoric supporting the wall is often couched in racist propaganda that generally smears those coming in as criminals and rapists. Conservatives claim it wasn’t meant to be racist. Often they have to strain to hold that together, as when the President attacks an Indiana-born judge as unqualified because “he’s a Mexican” and “I’m building a wall.” Also never mind that the administration they support is dramatically cutting back on the legal immigration they claim to love.
They do relish pointing to any example where allegations of racism did overreach. They point to the “hands up don’t shoot” example where facts later showed the police acted appropriately. From this they try to argue that allegations of racism are almost always wrong. That is the conversation they want to have about race.
Approach 2: Appeal To White Racial Anxiety.
In truth, the conservative claim that they don’t want it to all be about race is a false one. They are perfectly willing to make it all about race if doing so panders to white anxieties about race. In so doing, they are willing to flat out lie while smearing minorities along the way.
A clear example is this tweet by then-Candidate Trump.
For the record, the statistics in this tweet by the current President of the United States are complete lies. The graphic was created by a white supremacist. It panders to white fears of animalistic violence by blacks against whites. Trump kept this tweet up on his Twitter site for about half a year before finally deleting it.
Let’s try a more recent example. Just this month, Trump wrote a tweet that for the first time in his Presidency included the word “Africa.” His choice for that tweet was a dishonest pandering to white fears about what horrors will befall whites if blacks are allowed to take over.
You can’t argue this is not about race. The words “white farmers” (as victims of genocidal black oppression) are right there. It’s also all a lie. Unsurprisingly, this too originated with white supremacists, and now the American President is baking it into our foreign policy, to the detriment to our relations with the nation falsely accused.
But hey, at least we are having a discussion about race! It’s not an honest discussion, but it’s a discussion. That’s just it. In the world of Trump supporters, an honest discussion is not what is sought. If it doesn’t pander to white anxieties, often in a dishonest way, they would prefer not to talk about it at all.
Of course, it’s not always dishonest. Minorities do commit crimes. That provides the opportunity to amplify such incidents to again exploit white racial anxieties for political purposes. For example, while every murder does not get the attention of the President of the United States, you can be sure a murder committed by an illegal immigrant will.
When Mollie Tibbets was killed by an illegal immigrant, the President brazenly used her death to exploit white fears of the brown illegal immigrant horde murdering innocent (and “beautiful”) whites. At a rally the President said,
“You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in very sadly from Mexico. And you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman. Should have never happened. Illegally in our country. We’ve had a huge impact but the laws are so bad, the immigration laws are such a disgrace. We’re getting it changed but we have to get more Republicans.”
It’s a common theme with the President, that these others who don’t look like us are coming to get us. Even when they don’t commit any crimes, he’s happy to make them up. Anyone remember this “Presidential” classic?
“You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”
Nothing had happened in Sweden the night before. He just made it up.
But at least a conversation about race is happening.