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Team Trump reportedly eyes new focus on ‘anti-white racism’

In a prospective second term, Donald Trump's team is eyeing a focus on addressing "anti-white racism" rather than discrimination against people of color.


Just days ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, Stephen Miller’s far-right organization, America First Legal, aired offensive television ads accusing Democrats of “racism against white people.” The commercials were filled with claims that quickly fell apart, and they didn’t prevent Democrats from faring surprisingly well in the election cycle.

Two years later, it nevertheless appears that the subject remains of interest to the “America First” crowd. Axios reported that in a prospective second term for Donald Trump, his team intends to “dramatically change the government’s interpretation of Civil Rights-era laws to focus on ‘anti-white racism’ rather than discrimination against people of color.”

Trump’s Justice Department would push to eliminate or upend programs in government and corporate America that are designed to counter racism that has favored whites. Targets would range from decades-old policies aimed at giving minorities economic opportunities, to more recent programs that began in response to the pandemic and the killing of George Floyd.

The Axios report, which has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, added that the former president’s associates have turned to Miller’s America First Legal operation to help lay the groundwork for the broader goals.

For its part, the Trump campaign didn’t exactly deny its interest in rolling back policies designed to address systemic racism. The presumptive Republican nominee, his spokesperson said, “is committed to weeding out discriminatory programs and racist ideology across the federal government.”

As a Washington Post analysis explained, in context, “discriminatory programs” refers to “those that attempt to address systemic racial disadvantages. It is an evolution of the idea that affirmative-action policies meant to eliminate those imbalances are, in effect, racist against White people.”

On the surface, this doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. The idea that white people in the United States are the victims of systemic discrimination is ridiculous and offensive, but it’s an element of the MAGA worldview.

What is surprising is the electoral risk that Team Trump apparently feels comfortable taking.

The Post had a report over the weekend that noted, “Four recent polls — Quinnipiac, Economist-YouGov, New York Times/Siena and Marquette University Law School ... have shown Trump with at least 20 percent support among Black adults. Now a new Fox News survey shows him with the support of 26 percent of Black voters. If accurate and if the numbers held until November, Trump would receive the highest share of the Black vote for any Republican presidential candidate since Richard M. Nixon in 1960.”

It’s worth emphasizing, of course, that there are plenty of public-opinion analysts who believe that Trump’s support among Black voters in recent polling is largely a mirage and the data should be viewed with great skepticism.

Given the former president’s record, those question seem reasonable. After all, as my MSNBC colleague Clarissa-Jan Lim recently noted, “Trump was sued for systematically turning away Black tenants in the 1970s. He took out full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty for the (now-exonerated) suspects in the Central Park Five case. He breathlessly promoted a racist ‘birther‘ conspiracy theory about former President Barack Obama, and about now-Vice President Kamala Harris (and most recently about Nikki Haley, for that matter). He called Haiti and African nations ‘s---hole countries.’”

This is, of course, just a sampling from the Republican’s lengthy and overtly racist record.

But let’s say for the sake of conversation that a meaningful number of Black voters are prepared to overlook all of this. Maybe, the argument goes, there really is a significant percentage of Black voters who either don’t know or don’t care about Trump’s racism, and they’re prepared to support his 2024 candidacy.

If that’s the case, shouldn’t the presumptive GOP nominee and his team at least try to keep these voters on board? Why in the world would Team Trump effectively tell Black communities in an election year, “We’d appreciate your vote as we shift the federal government’s focus to protecting white people from discrimination and championing the interests of white victims”?