Another day, another opportunity for presumptive Republican nominee and lover of “the blacks” Donald Trump to toss out some casual racism for his white nationalist supporters to lap up.
In an interview with the New York Times, Trump was asked about the places he’s visited in the world, and if he’d ever been anywhere that was considered dangerous. This is what he had to say:
On the TV, Fox had moved on from the election to footage of the smoky aftermath of a bombing in Baghdad. Trump rose from his seat and walked over to the screen for a closer look. “Boy, this ISIS,” he murmured.
I asked Trump if he had ever been to Iraq. “Never!” he said, sounding horrified by the thought.
“What’s the most dangerous place in the world you’ve been to?”
He contemplated this for a second. “Brooklyn,” he said, laughing. “No,” he went on, “there are places in America that are among the most dangerous in the world. You go to places like Oakland. Or Ferguson. The crime numbers are worse. Seriously.”
It was a stark reminder of what set Trump apart from every other politician in recent memory who had occupied his current position: how little of the world he had seen beyond the archipelago of boardrooms, golf courses and high-rise hotels he inhabited, how utterances that by now would have torpedoed a more normal campaign continued to roll off his tongue with impunity.
Hmmmm. So, apparently, Mr. Trump believes that not only are Oakland and Ferguson are really dangerous American cities, but he believes they are among the most dangerous WORLDWIDE. Let that sink in for a minute. He’d just seen a bombing in Baghdad on TV, something that would have Americans shitting their pants and declaring war on two separate countries if it happened here, and his first instinct is to mention Oakland and Ferguson as similar places.
Of course, we all know why he did that. Ferguson became known around the world in 2014 when protests arose there after a white police officer shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. The name Ferguson became synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement afterwards. Oakland was also a city where a number of large protests occurred in response to police brutality. (And a place where a lot of black people live.)
However, as the Washington Post’s Philip Bump pointed out on Wednesday, neither city can be accurately described as one of the world’s most dangerous. In fact, only four American cities rank among the world’s top 50 in terms of murder rate. Oakland is not among them. And Ferguson is actually a small suburb of St. Louis — which does rank on the list — and has a relatively low crime rate.
Ferguson is a different story. Ferguson is near St. Louis, but doesn’t itself have a high crime rate. In 2012, it had the 23rd-highest crime rate of all cities in Missouri, out of 75 for which data was available.
Ferguson was on the top of Trump’s tongue for other reasons, of course. The police killing of Michael Brown that sparked nationwide demonstrations in 2014 has maintained relevance in the political conversation as questions about police use-of-force continue. For conservatives like Trump, “Ferguson” is often a shorthand for tensions between police and communities of color — and support for the former.
Trump has vilified Ferguson in the past, usually to make a point about violence and crime. One time, he made the idiotic assertion that Ferguson was overrun with gangs full of illegal immigrants. (There is no such thing happening like that in Ferguson.) Another time, when a Black Lives Matter activist was booted out of one of his rallies for protesting, Trump shared a racist meme on Twitter that falsely claimed blacks were responsible for greater than 80% of whites that were murdered.
So, yeah, he knows what he’s doing when he says this shit. He doesn’t care if it is an outright lie. He’s just sending a message to his base that he’s one of them.