Editor's note: This following is an excerpt from "The Big Lie," Dinesh D'Souza's latest book, released today.
Racism and xenophobia: this is the hot-button charge. Every comparison between Trump and the Nazis goes here. Elizabeth Warren explains Trump’s rise as the product of “an ugly stew of racism.” Historian James Whitman warns that “white nationalism lives in the White House.” Jeet Heer charges in the New Republic that Trump’s “racism and xenophobia” display his “fascist roots” that are not his alone but “lie in the Republican Party.” Along the same lines, leftist writer Michael Tomasky traces a “direct and indisputable” line from “racist and xenophobic movements” to “Trump’s GOP,” concluding, “They’re supporting Trump as white people because they feel he will protect their white privilege.”
Yet the evidence for Trump’s racism and xenophobia is sorely lacking. Perhaps the strongest basis for the charge is that the Left has uncovered some white supremacists and anti-Semites who say they back Trump. One of them, Richard Spencer, held a notorious rally during which he and his few dozen supporters cried out, “Hail Trump.” Spencer seems here to be doing his best Hitler imitation. Yet if these racists and anti-Semites endorse Trump, Trump himself doesn’t endorse them. The best the Left can show is that Trump has retweeted some statements by white nationalists even though the statements themselves are benign. I retweet people all the time without knowing much about them. The conventions of social media do not require that we check out the backgrounds of the people that we retweet.
Over the course of American history many racists voted for Lincoln—who actively courted the anti-immigrant, Know-Nothing vote— and Wilson and FDR, who actively sought the votes of avowed racists. It doesn’t follow that Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR were racists. As I’ve shown in my previous work, Lincoln clearly wasn’t a racist. Later in this book I’ll prove independently that Wilson was a racist and FDR was in bed with the worst racists in America. My point here is simply that the racist vote by itself doesn’t make its beneficiary a racist.
Obviously, the question still remains: why do these guys like Trump if Trump isn’t a racist like them? One possible answer is that these are jobless guys, losers in society, some of them total imbeciles. Whatever they call themselves—fascists or something else—frankly I don’t believe they are fascists or know much about fascism. Hitler would have sent most of them straight to the gas chambers. (Let’s recall that one of the earliest categories of people Hitler euthanized were the so-called “imbeciles.”) It’s quite possible that these guys voted for Trump because they expect him to bring back unskilled jobs. So even if Trump is not a racist, it’s still possible that racists would like him for reasons that have nothing to do with racism.
Is Trump a racist and xenophobe because he “hates immigrants” and once called a Hispanic federal judge a “Mexican”? Yes, I know the judge in question is a U.S. citizen of Mexican descent. I’m a U.S. citizen of Asian and Indian descent, so that would be like calling me an “Asian Indian.” If someone intends to insult me by calling me that, I’m not offended; what’s the big deal? Even for those who are thin-skinned, Trump was at worst being somewhat insensitive. Insensitivity is not the same thing as bigotry.
Trump’s statements about Muslims cannot be termed racist for the simple reason that Islam is a religion, not a race. Can they, however, be termed xenophobic or anti-Muslim? Certainly the Muslims themselves don’t seem to think so. In May 2017, Trump visited Saudi Arabia, the most devout Muslim country in the world, and he received a hero’s welcome. Trump’s reception in the region contrasts sharply with the reception Obama received. Despite Obama’s craven kowtowing to Islam, he was routinely treated with contempt and suspicion by America’s Muslim allies in the region.
Let’s consider Trump’s executive order banning travel to America from several Muslim-majority countries. These countries happen to be breeding grounds for terrorists. They are also countries where the vetting of people, some of whom have been displaced from their homes and communities, is especially difficult. John Locke says that whatever other tasks a government undertakes—whether humanitarian or otherwise— its primary duty is to protect its own citizens from foreign and domestic thugs. That isn’t fascism; it’s classical liberalism.
Similarly, classical liberalism holds that a liberal society is a social compact among citizens who agree to come together for certain benefits and protections that they seek in common. In exchange for these protections and privileges, they give up the exercise of some of their natural rights. The point here is that natural rights belong to everyone, but civil and constitutional rights are the product of a social compact. It follows, therefore, that civil rights belong only to citizens. Aliens who are not part of the American social compact don’t have any constitutional rights. Again, Trump’s denial that illegal aliens have a constitutional right to be here is in the mainstream of the liberal tradition.
Trump isn’t against “immigrants” for the simple reason that illegal aliens are not immigrants. Leftists in Congress and the media routinely conflate legal and illegal immigrants as in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s comical rant, “We are all immigrants,” and in this New York Times front-page headline: “More Immigrants Face Deportation Under New Rules.” According to this leftist narrative, my wife Debbie (an immigrant from Venezuela) and I (an immigrant from India) should be living in fear. But this is a lie, and Cuomo and the editors of the New York Times know it. Trump has no intention to send us packing to our countries of origin. Trump’s distinction is between legal immigrants and lawbreakers who seek to circumvent the immigration process.
This is not a racial distinction. Trump has never said that America is a white man’s country or that brown or black people should not emigrate here. Most immigrants today come from Asia, Africa, and South America, and Trump seems fine with that. Contrast Trump’s position with that of Hitler. The Jews of Germany were legal immigrants or descended from legal immigrants. They were German citizens. Yet Hitler did not consider them to be true Germans. The Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of their German citizenship. So for Hitler the line was not between legal and illegal immigrants. It was not even between immigrants and native-born Germans. Rather, it was a racial line between Nordics or Aryan Germanic people on the one hand, and Jews and other non-Aryan “inferiors” on the other.