The Impeachment of Trump:  The Unbearable Stench of White Supremacism

Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States, has been impeached by the House of Representatives, and not a moment too soon.  He was never fit to occupy the exalted office that he has held for the last three years and, many are saying, may well hold for another four years after the election of November 2020.  Many of the commentators who fill the airwaves in the United States were until recently describing him as “unpresidential” and the slightly less timid ones called him “unhinged.”  These were very mild and almost guarded critiques of a man who boldly characterized Mexicans as “rapists”, women as “pigs” and “dogs”, and brazenly declared that he could stand in the middle of New York’s Fifth Avenue and shoot someone dead without losing any voters or facing any consequences from law enforcement authorities.

The House of Representatives has done its duty.  Jerome Nadler, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that it was necessary to impeach Trump to prevent democracy from being handed over to a dictator. The Democrats uniformly argued that the President could not be permitted to sacrifice the national security for his own gain and that he had abused the power of his office by enlisting the aid of a foreign government to investigate a political rival ahead of the Presidential election next year.  Trump also stood accused of a second charge, namely that he obstructed Congress by withholding documents, engaging in outright lies and prevarications, forbidding anyone on his staff or cabinet from testifying, and failing to respond to Congressional subpoenas. All of this is indubitably true.

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Many Americans, even some who secretly may not be wholly unsympathetic to Trump, will crow about how the impeachment represents the triumph of American democracy .  The world will be reminded that the will of the American people has prevailed though, as everyone also knows, it is nearly—I say nearly since there is seldom absolute certainty in politics—a foregone conclusion that Trump will be acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.  But all of this should fade into insignificance if one is willing to go beyond the limited conceptual framework that informs the politics of the Democrats.  What, for instance, does their outrage at “foreign intervention” mean when we consider that the United States, under Republican as much as Democratic Presidents, has intervened in dozens of elections in foreign countries and even engineered the removal of democratically elected leaders around the world?

Detractors and admirers of Trump alike are describing the impeachment of Trump as “historic”.  Trump has already been gloating about his impeachment as not merely “historic” but as something “unprecedented” in American history, as the greatest witch-hunt ever launched in this country.  He calls it “impeachment lite”, since only two articles of impeachment were drawn up against him; but, had he been charged with more articles of impeachment than any other President, we can be absolutely certain that he would have boasted of having won the impeachment heavyweight crown.  Boast he must, as must he shit, pee, eat, or taunt women:  it is intrinsic to his personality.  He has even argued that the unfortunate women—and some men—who were tried as witches at Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692-93 and then hanged received more due process than he has.  This is, needless to say, errant nonsense—much like nearly everything else that comes tumbling out of his mouth. We have all heard that “like attracts like”, but the circumstances of his impeachment suggest another important variation: “imbecile attracts imbecile”. What else might explain the conduct of Barry Loudermilk, Republican from Georgia, who stated on the House floor that “Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats have afforded this president and this process.”

Getting impeached is thus, in Trump’s books, something of an achievement, and surviving it, which he surely will, is going to be chalked up by him as a yet more momentous accomplishment.  All this is possible because Trump is the best living example of a grave problem for every ethical person:  how does one make someone who cannot be shamed accountable to others?  How can one respond to a man who feels that he cannot be disgraced, who, rather perversely, might be likened to the lotus leaves that stay dry even when water drops on them.  I say perversely for the obvious reason that the lotus has, in every culture and across time, been viewed as a symbol of purity.  Trump is as far removed from purity as can be imagined, but nothing seems to touch him.

Let it be said clearly:  There is nothing in the impeachment of Trump that is “historic”, and not merely because Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were also impeached.  (Nixon resigned before he could be impeached: once the Watergate tapes went public, even his supporters knew that lies could not be covered up.) By far the most important fact in the present proceedings is that not a single Republican voted in favor of the articles of impeachment.  Commentators are describing this as the “partisan divide”, and nearly everyone is agreed that the divide has grown sharper in recent years.  It is quite immaterial exactly when the gap between the Democrats and Republicans, which was already stark at the time of Clinton’s impeachment two decades ago, started widening further, and how far the election of Barack Obama, whose election was unfathomable to white racists who felt that the America that they knew had vanished before their eyes and had to be “reclaimed”, contributed to the emerging political climate.

Some people may think that the partisan divide is “just politics”, but could it be that it means something much more?  Should we simply go along with the narrative that America is divided between the red states and the blue states, mainly the coastal areas versus the large hinterland, the urban educated with higher-paying jobs ranged against those in the heartland with lower-paying blue-collar jobs?  It may be entirely coincidental, considering how important committee assignments are parceled out, but the three Democratic figures most closely associated with the impeachment proceedings—Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi; Adam Schiff, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee; and Nadler—all represent New York or California, the two states that Trump (who is himself a New Yorker) and Republicans deride as ultra-left, “out of touch” with the rest of America, and elitist.  They have no idea what a “left” political party really looks like, but the only question is this:  does this widely accepted narrative disguise something greater that is at stake?

What almost no one wants to talk about is the bitter truth underlying the “partisan divide” and the fatuous claims about American democracy.  The Republican Party is not just made up of a few relentless bigots, racists, and “white property-holders” as they used to be called in the days of the “Founding Fathers” and slavery.  It is a party, in every respect and without exception, a party of unrepentant, degenerate, spiteful white supremacists.  Racism lies at the very core of the Republican Party, which is not to say that there are no racists within the Democratic Party. One can be “progressive” in some respects and be entirely retrograde in other matters.  But the Republican Party is distinguished by the fact that its entire leadership, as is demonstrated by their unstinting support for the white supremacist Donald Trump, lives and breathes racism. And what is true of the leadership is also true of the faithful millions who gather at his rallies and who are seen, on TV screens, standing dutifully and happily behind the Führer.  America will soon need a new word for these stormtroopers.

Will the impeachment of Donald Trump make any difference?  To be sure, one can play the game of political calculations and discuss endlessly which party will gain more from this outcome when the country goes to the polls a year from now. But this is precisely the trivialization of the grave issue at stake that we must resist.  Feminists may argue that sexism and misogyny are the most persistent problems before Americans, just as Marxists may be inclined to say that the enormous and still-widening economic gap between the super-rich and the poor presents the greatest challenge to Americans (and around the world).  They would be within their rights to think so, but the singularity of the Republican Party, which has inherited the thinking of the slave-holders who forced the secession of the Southern states that led to the Civil War, resides in its deep-seated adherence to the ideology of white supremacism.  The impeachment, to this extent, means nothing at all.  It will mean nothing until the virulent white racism that lies at the core of the story of America is extirpated, root and branch, from the soil.

[First published in a slightly shorter version under the same title on abplive.in:  https://news.abplive.com/blog/the-impeachment-of-trump-the-unbearable-stench-of-white-supremacism-1128209%5D

{Hindi translation of the ABP version, ट्रम्प का महाभियोग: श्वेत वर्चस्ववाद की असहनीय दुर्गंध, can be accessed by clicking here.]

[For a Gujarati translation of the ABP version of this article, click here.]

[For a Bengali translation of the ABP version : ট্রাম্পের ইমপিচমেন্ট: উগ্র শ্বেতাঙ্গ আধিপত্যবাদের অসহনীয় দুর্গন্ধ, see this:
https://bengali.abplive.com/news/special-blog-the-impeachment-of-trump-the-unbearable-stench-of-white-supremacism-646709

13 thoughts on “The Impeachment of Trump:  The Unbearable Stench of White Supremacism

  1. Agreed: as attacks to dismantle Roe Vs. Wade, dissemble voting access and civil rights, together with the incarnation of migrants and children attest, white plantation racism & paternalism take multiple forms. Trump is the most virulent defender of the old boys plantation mentality, but without his overseers and toadies he could not exist in this cruel and extreme form. We need however less to fume at him, and ourselves to still work at the local level to alleviate neighborhood poverty, sexism, and racism and classism we encounter every day.

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    • I’m in agreement with you about the need to work at the local level to combat sexism, racism, poverty, etc. The idea is not to fume at Trump but to make certain that we understand that discussions about the “partisan divide” overwhelm everything and obscure the place of white supremacism.

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  2. This is a much needed wake up call for many of the liberals inexplicably acting as though this is some huge victory. It is indeed indicative of the deep seated nature of white supremacy in this country that of all the things the Democrats could have impeached him for they chose this Ukraine issue and not his inhuman immigration enforcement policies or the fact that he is facilitating a brutal Saudi-led campaign in Yemen which has resulted in a famine or that he is conducting global drone strikes on civilian populations. Of course if they impeached him on those grounds, they would have to grapple with the fact that Obama’s record on these issues is also atrocious. I also agree fully that it is very unfortunate that this country has no Left political formation to speak of, possibly because of COINTELPRO and other Cold War operations which directly targeted the Black Panther Party and other leftist outfits. Ultimately the group that is best positioned to challenge the white supremacist empire that is the United States on a global level is, as Walter Rodney had explained, African Americans, who are a long standing internally colonized group within the US: “It has long been recognized that the white working class in the U.S.A is historically incapable of participating (as a class) in anti-imperialist struggle. White racism and America’s leading role in world imperialism transformed organized labour in the U.S. into a reactionary force. Conversely, the black struggle is internationally significant because it unmasks the barbarous social relations of capitalism and places the enemy on the defensive on his own home ground.” Recognizing the white supremacy that runs through these hearings and the American political system more generally is crucial.

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    • Trump could have been indicted and impeached on various other grounds, including the disgraceful violation of the Emoluments clause of the Constitution. His presidency has been a way to fill the coffers of his sons, son-in-law, and daughter. His sons are nearly nearly as despicable as he is though they still have some ways to go before they arrive at Trump’s level of barbarism. I don’t care an iota for Hunter Biden or his father for that matter, but for the Republicans and Trump to complain about nepotism is utterly nauseating. On the other matter: yes, the white working class was never much a supporter of anti-colonial movements either. Lovely to know that there are people who are still reading Walter Rodney. I have taught his book on the Underdevelopment of Africa and the much slimmer title, “Groundings with My Brothers.”

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      • Trump’s presidency has indeed been full of impeachable offenses and the fact that the Democrats have taken the most offense to the one thing that happens to negatively impact Joe Biden reveals much about their concerns. His presidency could have easily been dismissed as just one more example of a right-wing nationalist coming to power, as has unfortunately been the case in many other countries in recent years, were it not for the hegemonic role of the US in global politics and the fact that what happens here has an impact throughout the world. Being introduced to Walter Rodney has been eye-opening in many ways: I am taking a class next semester in which How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is an assigned reading and I look forward to it.

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      • Hi Pranav, Nearly a decade ago I had written a piece published, as I recall, in either the “Hindustan Times” or the “Indian Express”, which the editors called “A Share of the American Pie.” I argued that every adult who is entitled to vote in his or her country’s election should be allowed to vote in the US election, because when the US elects its President it affects not just the US but nearly every country. The US has such an outsized role in the world, even today after China’s rise, that in many countries their own elections matter less than the elections in the US.

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  3. You are only anti-Trump because you do not like when the people take back their countries! Seeing your posts about Modi I thought you were just an anti-national Indian! But it turns out in every country you have some issue with people taking their country back for themselves! America for Americans and India for Indians but for both countries you somehow think they must open them up for the whole world.

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  4. Quote from above “Republican (Americanism) Party, which has inherited the thinking of the slave-holders who forced the secession of the Southern states that led to the Civil War, resides in its deep-seated adherence to the ideology of white supremacism.”
    Dr Lal, I admired this quote because it gets to the root of the crises. Americanism came out of Puritan or Protestant ideals from Britain. Even today, it spreads its economic stronghold and ideas all over. You are correct to identify many Scots who were actively involved in India/British colonialism. Hence, Americanism ideals are an extension of this school.
    Dr Lal, I would like to perhaps offer you a new perspective to examine this history that might shed light on this recurring pattern we see of economic domination coming from the same powers. When King Henry VIII had his “reformation”, he needed help taking over all the Catholic Churches and monasteries in Britain. For example, Westminster Abby was a Roman Catholic monastery built by Catholic Benedictine monks in yr ~960s.
    King Henry VIII recruited for this battle the noble classes (wealthy families) to loot and take over all the catholic properties. King Henry then gave those abbys, churches and monasteries to the lords, knights, noble class as payment. This created a system of very wealthy families who require constant new wealth and growth and expansion. India was a large part of this. The royal family had a group of loyal Scots and Brits used for far away colonialism. This group aways remained protestant (for lots of reasons and too long to list here). Even in the first 13 American colonies, catholics could only live in 2 (Virginia & Maryland).

    One of the Italian Canons told me “Something more important than my friendship, is the truth.” Thank you so much for all your work. Happy Holidays Dr Lal.

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    • Hi Jill, The subject of anti-Catholicism within the dominant white Establishment is an important one and I thank you for mentioning it. I can’t get into it in detail at this moment, as it requires separate treatment. But what you have identified is the sheer falsehood behind the idea that the American colonies were a haven of religious freedom. They were only a haven for Puritans, who in turn did not permit Quakers, Catholics, and Jews in Massachusetts, just as Catholics faced severe discrimination in Virginia. In Georgia the right to religious freedom was expressly denied to Catholics or “papists” as they were called. And I could go in this vein, of course.

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      • Thank you Dr Lal for the reply. I enjoy your work and stumbled on it looking for any Roman Catholic history in India, specifically on the Jesuits or Mother Teresa.

        Mother Teresa really opened Catholics eyes to the beauty of the Indian people. She loved freely and was loved in return. We are still so grateful for the state funeral given to her in a country she made her home and her work. Catholics have very different customs for honoring the deceased however, Indian leaders respected these customs and provided a stately event at our time of grieving.
        Again, thank you for your brilliant work. Yours in Christ. Jill

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