Is he is or is he ain’t a racist. Some say that he is, others say that no, he can’t be. He concedes that he “is the least racist person” on the planet. This admission is significant merely because it is the single thing that he boasts about where he is not number one.
Whether he is or is not a racist is debatable. There is a strong case for attaching the racist label to the 45th US President. His supporters refute this argument. They explain he is talking about the harmful elements of the groups he targets with harsh words. Albeit, those words get projected on the law-abiding people as well.
Several Democratic candidates for president opined that his words fueled the massacre at the Texas border town El Paso, Corey Booker being the most vocal on this point.
The President has drawn the ire of seven Democratic presidential candidates who have denounced him as a racist. The list includes Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bill de Blasio, and Julian Castro. Missing from this list is Kamala Harris and Joe Biden.
Harris says the question whether he is or he ain’t a racist should be put to the man himself. The President retorts the Democrats are playing the race card because they have no other means to defeat him.
The former Vice President says this President emboldens white supremacists with his rhetoric on race and class in America. Then adds, that he does not know which is worse being a racist or emboldening racists to act out their hatred.
Biden’s middle of the road response has angered progressive Democrats who have created a litmus test for he or she who would be the Democratic nominee in 2020. Biden’s critics urge the notion that Biden’s unwillingness to call the President a racist in specific terms means, Biden is out of touch and tone-deaf to the current dispensation.
Two weeks ago, I had an exclusive interview with my neighbor Civil Rights icon, Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian on the occasion of his 95th birthday. History little notes, but the record is clear, that Vivian took a historic punch to the jaw. Dallas County, Alabama Sheriff Jim Clark threw the punch. This jab galvanized what became the Selma to Montgomery March. This march led to the 1965 Voter Rights Act.
What caused Clark to punch Vivian was Vivian’s rhythmic diatribe? Where he told Clark that Clark thought he was a more prominent racist than Hitler, but he was not as big a racist as Hitler. Clark thought he was just as big a racist as Hitler, and Vivian knew Clark felt this way, so he attempted to shame Clark over his racism. Clark not able to stop the appeals of Vivian resorted to violence.
So, Vivian then becomes the best person in America to ask the question: Is he is or is he ain’t a racist?
Vivian, 95 years after his birth in Missouri, and 54 years after his confrontation in Selma, Alabama with Sheriff Clark, used not one, but seven words to respond to this question.
“With him [the President], you don’t have to wonder.”
Vivian in his wisdom for the ages, then said in his characteristic way after driving home a position, “And that is the point.”
It is, therefore, not a question of is he is or is he ain’t a racist.
Does the problem now become why in the world are Democrats, making the apparent answer a litmus test for their next presidential nominee?
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. Harvey is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award, which he received because of his pro bono representation of students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Medium, and Black College Nines. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org