Many have been surprised by the racist statements by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the two leading contenders for the GOP presidential nomination. The Republican establishment is supposedly horrified and shocked by their leading candidates. Racism and discrimination are illegal in the United States. And yet, we see and experience prejudice and racism every day. Why?
I believe it is because there is racism in America that is fed by history and the society, both institutionally and structurally. Although the education and judicial systems, coupled with deep inequality and widening economic gaps between the rich and the poor already provide ample evidence for the deeply-rooted racism in the United States, the presidential campaigns of Trump and Cruz have shed much light on it and brought it to the forefront of the national debate.
Why are we criticizing only Trump?
The glaring racism that Trump manifests in his speeches and statements has provoked strong reaction by leading political, religious, literary and artistic figures. Some examples:
Calling Trump a racist, two former Mexican presidents have also compared him with Hitler .
Reacting to Trump's suggestion about building a wall on the Mexican border, Pope Francis said, "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian."
Mario Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010, called Trump "a clown, a demagogue and a racist."
Actor George Clooney said Donald Trump "is ajust an opportunist. Now he's a fascist; a xenophobic fascist."
J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter series said Lord "Voldemort [the fictional character and archenemy of Harry Potter] was nowhere near as bad [as Trump]."
But, despite his racism, its condemnation, and warnings by many, Trump is still leading the GOP primaries and, as of the time of writing this article, had 739 delegates, far more than the 465 delegates that Cruz had.
But, Cruz is not far behind Trump in his anti-immigrants, anti-Muslims rhetoric. He has said repeatedly that he supports rounding up and deporting undocumented immigrants. In an interview with Fox News Cruz said,
"The biggest difference between Donald Trump and Marco Rubio [who has since quit the race] and myself is that both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio would allow those 12 million people to become U.S. citizens....I will not."
What does voting for Trump and Cruz mean? Some have criticized the Republican establishment and the GOP to put their Party in this position through their actions over the past three decades. The criticism is not without merit, but it does not address the root cause of the problem.
The critics do not seem to recognize that racism is institutionalized in the United States, and is like fire under a thin layer of ashes. What Trump, Cruz and others like them say is like a blowing breeze over the ashes, revealing the fire underneath and making the fire rage stronger. Condemning Trump and Cruz does not solve any problem. The root cause of racism must be addressed.
Racism against African-American
After African-Americans, such as Trayvon Martin, were murdered by the vigilante or police over the past two years, and the courts did not find the culprits guilty, we had wide demonstrations. Three important political figures expressed the bitter truth about what had happened, but were criticized for it.
After George Zimmerman, who had killed Martin in Florida, was found not guilty, The President said,
"There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.There are probably very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me -- at least before I was a senator.There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off."
Then Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech that he was stopped by police
"while simply running to a catch a movie, at night in George town.I was at the time of that last incident a federal prosecutor," adding, "Years ago, some of these same issues [regarding race] drove my father to sit down with me to have a conversation - which is no doubt familiar to many of you - about how as a young black man I should interact with the police, what to say, and how to conduct myself if I was ever stopped or confronted in a way I thought was unwarranted."
Holder said that after the Trayvon Martin murder he had a similar conversation with his own 15-year-old son "to make him aware of the world he must still confront."
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said about his own son,
"I've had to worry over the years. [My wife] Chirlane's had to worry. Is [my son] Dante safe each night? There are so many families in this city who feel that each and every night. Is my child safe? And not just from some of the painful realities--crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods--but is safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors."
According to the 2013 Census African-Americans represent 13.2 percent of the U.S. population, but their rate of unemployment is typically twice that of the whites. For example, in summer of 2015 the unemployment rate was 5.3 percent among the whites, but 11.4 percent among African-Americans. The same is true about young people 16-24 years old who look for a job during summers. For example, during summer of 2014 12.2 percent of young whites and 24. 8 percent of young African-Americans were unemployed.
The structural discriminations and the economic gap, including the deepening fissures between the rich and the poor, have contributed mightily to the miserable plights of African-Americans. 37.4 percent of prison population in the United States is African-American, whereas only about 13 percent of the population is black. A December 2014 poll indicated that 80 percent of African-Americans and 40 percent of whites believe that the police treat black people differently than the white population. Another poll in November 2015 indicated that 49 percent of Americans believe racism is a "big problem" in the United States.
After wide demonstrations in 2014 protesting discriminations the President said in December 2014 that a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country. He then discussed the root cause of the problem, saying racism is
"deeply rooted in our society, it's deeply rooted in our history. But the two things that are going to allow us to solve it: No. 1 is the understanding that we have made progress. And so it's important to recognize -- as painful as these incidents are -- we can't equate what's happening now to what was happening 50 years ago."
We all know that right-wing American politicians have been fiercely attacking the President for years. The attacks may have different reasons, but as former President Jimmy Carter said, one important reason is that Obama is African-American and his opposition has racist views.
All we need to do to recognize discriminations and racism in this country is comparing income, employment, housing, health care and prison populations of the whites with those of Hispanics and African-Americans. The net wealth of white families is 13 times larger than African-Americans'. The historic legacy of racisms and social and economic organs have marginalized the non-white minorities, and have imposed such deep discriminations on them that escaping them seems impossible.
Conservatives in the United States attribute race-based discriminations to personal characters, such as inferiority complex, lack of merit, laziness, and irresponsibility of the minorities, and claim that institutional and structural barriers play no role in discriminations.
Racism against Muslims
The "Islamophobia industry" is doing extremely well in the United States. The raw materials for this "industry" are supplied by Islamic terrorist groups, the Shiite ayatollahs and Sunni and Wahhabi Muftis, but the "industry's plants" - think tanks and right-wing mass media - use the raw material to produce "Islamophobia" and present it to the society for "free." The result is that whereas right after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 by a margin of 47-39 percent the American people viewed Islam positively, a 2015 poll indicates that 61 percent do not view Islam positively. It is also telling that whereas 51 percent of Democrats have a positive view of Islam, 73 percent of Republicans do not.
Trump has claimed that Islam is an enemy of the United States. How can a religion that emerged 14 centuries ago be an enemy of a country that was created 1200 years after its inception? Even if Trump means Muslims, not Islam, a very large majority of Muslims want friendly relations with the United States. Trump and other opponents of Islam have gone so far as calling Muslims "rabid dogs" and "dangerous animals." The terrorist attacks on Brussels, Belgium, will only add to the Islamophobia. Reacting to the attacks, Trump renewed his call to "close up our borders."
And, regarding the Middle East, Cruz has said,
"You would carpet-bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed - and you have embedded Special Forces to direction the air power."
That the solution of a presidential aspirant of a major political party in the United States. Thus, if he becomes the President, he will carpet-bomb Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. And, speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting on Monday March 21, Cruz threatened Iran and said that if Iran were to test fire a missile when he is president
"we will shoot it down," and that when he is president Iran will be given a choice, either it "will shut down its nuclear program or we will shut it down for you."
It is such an environment that allows a Trump campaign worker in San Diego, California, offer strangers $40 to force Muslims wear "terrorist badges," similar to what the Nazis did to the Jews. Amazingly, in the supposedly multicultural and liberal California, every stranger who was offered the money accepted it happily.
The oligarchic democracy
The bitter fact is that the American democracy has been transformed into an oligarchy. The New York Times reports that over 50 percent of the American people neither trust Trump nor Hillary Clinton. But, the political system in the United States has made the two the front runners of Presidential primaries. Interestingly, Republican warmongers have said that between Trump and Clinton they will vote for the latter.
Just try to imagine the catastrophe if the President of the United States, the commander-in-chief of the most powerful military in the world, mixes warmongering with racism.
This article was translated by Ali N. Babaei.