Writing about Monday’s presidential debate, Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker nails the whole “Birther” thing in one paragraph in a way that sent a shiver up my spine. He puts the whole thing together with Trump’s down-deep character and temperament. You can read the entire magazine piece here.–PM
Yet Trump continued last night his self-congratulations for compelling the President to do this, along with the grotesquely racist notion that it was “good for him” (i.e., for the President). It slowly dawned on the listener that this was all of a piece with the rest of Trump’s racial attitudes: he believes that, as a rich white man, he had a right to stop and frisk the President of the United States and demand that the uppity black man show him his papers. Stop-and-frisk isn’t just a form of policing for Trump; it’s a whole way of life. The idea that he had a right to force a black man to go through what Obama rightly saw as the demeaning business of producing his birth certificate showed his fundamental contempt for any normal idea of racial equality. It was of a line with his equally bizarre notion that owning a country club that doesn’t actively discriminate against black people is not a minimal requirement of law but a positive achievement of the owner. This isn’t the case of someone misarticulating an otherwise plausible position; it was just a case of someone repeating, once again, not only a specific racist lie but also the toxic underlying set of assumptions that produced it.