Republicans Are Mad At Donald Trump Because He Attacked White Women

All those comments about people of color didn’t seem to matter as much.
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Donald Trump is a really gross human being.

On a recently unearthed recording from 2005, the Republican presidential nominee can be heard talking about trying to “fuck” a married woman and bragging about how easy it is for him to commit sexual assault.

“I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says in the footage published by The Washington Post on Friday. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful ― I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump said. “You can do anything ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Trump has since been slammed in the media and by his fellow party members. Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement that “no woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner.”

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney denounced Trump’s comments as “vile.” And some Republican officials ― including Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and John McCain (Ariz.) ― are revoking their endorsements of Trump, saying that these remarks are a bridge too far.

But the sudden disdain toward Trump from formerly supportive Republicans is, in many cases, laughable.

Trump was a vile, racist, sexist demagogue when he entered the race. He launched and built his campaign on the dehumanization of people of color. Republicans knew this before he became the party nominee. They still coalesced behind him after he won the nomination.

They stood by his side after he called Mexicans “rapists,” tweeted a fake statistic implying that black people are murderers, said black people and Latinos are “living in hell” and pledged to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

These remarks, all of them understood as targeting people of color, weren’t enough to get Republicans to publicly renounce Trump in significant numbers. His comments that could offend white women, however, have been a different story.

Donald Trump's whole campaign has always, explicitly, been about treating certain groups of people as inferior to others.
Donald Trump's whole campaign has always, explicitly, been about treating certain groups of people as inferior to others.
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

In the relatively short history of the United States, anxiety about white women’s safety and sexual purity has long gone hand in hand with racist violence. Today, harm inflicted on white women is still taken more seriously than violence against women of color. In this context, it’s not hard to see why the 2005 tape has sent so many Republicans hurrying away from Trump. (It’s also worth noting that the Republican Party needs white women to win elections much more than it needs Muslims or Latinos or black people.)

The impulse to defend the honor of white womanhood has been evident in the backlash since the tape was made public.

Many Republicans ― like Romney and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) ― have denounced Trump’s remarks by talking about “daughters” or “wives” instead of simply “girls” and “women.” As has been noted by many people, this kind of framing essentially pegs a woman’s value to her proximity to a man.

It must be pointed out that Trump has said awful things about women of all races. In many of these instances, Trump has had direct contact with these women and has taken something they said as insulting. He’s also slandered women who have done things other conservative men aren’t fond of ― like breastfeeding in public or failing to make dinner for their husbands. (In fact, Trump seems to have a particular thing about women’s bodily fluids.)

While the white women in the lives of these Republican officials may not be able to experience racism, they can be sexually assaulted. In fact, simply going by the sheer ubiquity of sexual violence in the U.S., the odds are that at least a few of them have been.

It’s possible this is why Republican officials were just fine with letting Trump be Trump ― until his comments hit too close to home. The outrage from conservatives was in scant supply when it was revealed that Trump referred to former Miss Universe Alicia Machado as “Miss Housekeeping” because she’s a Latina.

Or when he was encouraging violence against protesters, many of whom are people of color, at his rallies.

Or when it was reported he’d been sued by the Justice Department for discriminating against black people in housing.

Or when he argued that “stop and frisk” lowered crime rates, and ignored how the policy violated the constitutional rights of black people and Latinos.

You get the point.

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Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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