All Donald Trump supporters are not racist, but nearly every racist is a Donald Trump supporter.
Yesterday on a drive through southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, I traversed a land festooned with Confederate flags and Trump/Pence signs. Again, not every Trump sign was paired with a Confederate flag, but every Confederate flag that I encountered had at lease one Trump sign standing proudly in its shadow.
Bigots, it would seem, know who butters their bread.
So why do racist pond scum gravitate to Trump? Much of that connection has to be related to the history and actions of the candidate himself. Trump and his New York City slumlord father had a history of screening renters by race and avoiding renting to blacks. As Donald grew into his own man, those racist tendencies persisted. Trump developed into one of the more adamant "birthers," and stirred white nationalist passions by speaking out against Mexicans and calling them "rapists" and drug runners. He made loud complaints against a judge in his racketeering trial because he perceived the judge as being a "Mexican," though the jurist was actually born in Indiana.
Last week at a rally in North Carolina Trump taunted a black man as he was being escorted out of a Trump rally - ostensibly for being black. Trump yelled at the man as he was being removed, "We have a protester! By the way, were you paid $1,500 to be a thug?" It turned out that the man was a longtime Trump supporter who had just turned up at the rally to see his hero in person. But throwing a black man out of a Trump rally was awfully good theatre - and it gave the rabble their racism fix for the day.
The racism, of course, has spread well beyond the candidate. This week The Crusader one of the main "newspapers" of the Ku Klux Klan, devoted its entire front page to an article supporting Donald Trump under the heading "Make America Great Again." Former Klan leader David Duke has endorsed Trump.
A black church, the Hopewell Missionary Baptist in Greenville, Mississippi, was gutted by an arson fire earlier this week. Spray-painted on the church's exterior wall were the words, "Vote Trump."
And then there was the double cop killing in Iowa which also occurred this week. The alleged killer, a white man by the name of Scott Michael Greene, had reportedly become angry with local police after they removed him from a high school football game for causing a disturbance. Greene had started waving a large Confederate flag at the game in response to some black players kneeling during the national anthem. Some black fans in the stands had taken his flag away from him before police arrived and led Greene away. Greene, it turns out, had a Trump/Pence sign in his front yard - not a small yard sign, but one of the near-billboard variety.
It's small wonder that the Trump campaign openly talks about suppressing the black vote. They know where their votes are - and where they aren't - and they also understand the symbolism (like walls and flags) and code words (like "rapist" and "thug") that keep their base focused and fired up. Trump and his band of haters have fanned the flames of racism into a raging inferno, but it's a fire that will soon burn itself out.
The America that rises from the ashes of hatred will be great.