The Republicans’ silence on Trump’s embrace of racism and antisemitism is deafening

OPINION: The fact is the Republican Party is now an openly white nationalist party with very few reasonable voices left.

Former President Donald Trump pauses while speaking at a rally at the Minden Tahoe Airport in Minden, Nev., on Oct. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas, Pool, File)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

To everyone who is so upset that Donald J. Trump, former president of the United States, has once again shown his true racist nature by meeting with Nick Fuentes a white supremacist, Holocaust-denying, Jewish-hating supporter, as well as Hitler lover Kanye West (now known as Ye), I’ll say this: Don’t you understand that this is the same man who promoted the birther conspiracy against America’s first black president? 

Just days after Trump announced he was running for president in June 2015 at Trump Tower in New York City, he began appearing on national TV shows claiming that President Obama was not a natural-born U.S. citizen and therefore not a legitimate president. Trump started these attacks on Obama as early as 2011. And the Republican Party stood silent and, in many cases joined in on the attacks. In fact, birtherism was what made Trump so attractive to the Republican base of voters. 

My point: Trump pushed birtherism. He was intentional. And he knew that it would resonate. He knew exactly what he was doing — just as he does now in 2022.

This is the same Donald Trump who was sued, along with his father, by the Department of Justice in the 1970s for housing discrimination against Black tenants applying to his rental properties. This is the same Donald Trump who took out a full-page New York Times ad and championed the execution of the falsely accused Central Park Five who were exonerated in the brutal attack on the Central Park jogger. And even after the young men were cleared, Trump refused to offer an apology.

In my opinion, as someone who spent over 20 years of my life in the Republican Party as a young Black woman and did a lot of work trying to create a big tent for the party from 1988 through 2008, the “kinder, gentler” Republican Party championed by George H.W. Bush no longer exists. Condemnations of Trump’s racist past and present are not enough. The party will only be serious when it breaks from Trump. And in the face of his latest open embrace of antisemitism toward Jewish citizens, leaders in the GOP have been tepid at best in their condemnations. And according to one news report, Florida governor and Republican star of the 2022 midterms, Ron DeSantis, told aides and supporters to just stay silent on Trump. Mum’s the word in the Grand Old Party. How sad.

The truth is that a few people standing up and condemning Trump’s luncheon with Fuentes and West isn’t quite enough. Mitt Romney will always stand up and condemn Trump’s bigotry — he is the lone Republican senator who voted to impeach Trump the first time in 2019. GOP Senator Susan Collins will always be “disappointed and concerned” just as she was last week when discussing Trump’s lunch with Fuentes. And Mitch McConnell, who is married to a woman of color, refused to support a new bill passed in the Senate this week that codifies the law of interracial and gay marriage in this country. This is the Republican Party circa 2022. I’ve said it many times before, and it’s kind of getting old. This is who they are.

The question the media seems obsessed with asking daily after every Trump outrage is when will Republican leaders condemn his behavior? Why have they been silent? Where’s House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in this? It literally took McCarthy a week before he finally said, “I don’t think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes. His views are nowhere within the Republican party or within this country itself.” What a tepid, weak and spineless statement which never calls out Trump by name and focused instead on Fuentes. 

The reality is the Republican Party’s silence on Trump’s embrace of racists is both passive acquiescence and public agreement. Kevin McCarthy (presumptive, but not yet locked in as the new speaker of the House) is not going to cross Trump because he fears his MAGA base, and McCarthy feels he has to hold on to centrist conservatives, blue dogs, and the very few moderates left in the conference. This man has no spine and no moral compass; he is simply looking to get to 218 votes to win the speakership on Jan. 3, 2023. He’ll cut deals with Satan if that means he can achieve his desire for raw unbridled power.

The fact is the Republican Party is now an openly white nationalist party with only a few reasonable voices left — and there are only a few. As I said: the Republican Party has to either repudiate Trump and his ilk, remove them and reform, or the rest of us will have to endure the wrath of the Republican rage machine otherwise known as MAGA.  

Despite all of the collateral damage Trump has brought to my former party, the hard truth is that I think Trump will still be the nominee in 2024 even if he is indicted by the DOJ and continues to openly embrace racism, which he always has. Not since slavery and the Jim Crow era has one party so openly embraced racism as what we see happening in real time in the GOP. 

Sophia A. Nelson is a contributing editor for theGrio. Nelson is a TV commentator and is the author of “The Woman Code: Powerful Keys to Unlock,” “Black Women Redefined.”

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