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No, Uncle Joe, Trump Is Hardly Our First Racist President

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Joe Biden suggested that Trump was the first racist to become president. Unfortunately, there have been many racist presidents, and many more that pursued or accepted racist policies, though Trump may rival Andrew Johnson as most racist.
[D]uring a virtual town hall organized by the Service Employees International Union after a health-care worker expressed concern that Trump continues to blame Asians for the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden signaled that he shared the questioner’s concern that Trump frequently refers to the pandemic as the “China virus,” saying, “the way he deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from, is absolutely sickening.”
“No sitting president has ever done this,” Biden said. “Never, never, never. No Republican president has done this. No Democratic president. We’ve had racists, and they’ve existed, they’ve tried to get elected president. He’s the first one that has.”
Now to be sure, there are varying definitions of “racist.” By some of the broader ones, in which willful indifference to racial injustice qualifies, nearly all U. S. presidents have been racist to one degree or another (though let’s give Barack Obama, the relentless target of racist abuse, a pass). But even by the narrowest definition, such as conscious belief in the superiority of the dominant white race and/or the inferiority of others — or cementing those foul ideas with the deliberate pursuit of policies designed to promote racist ends — the list of racist presidents is still very extensive. You could start with the 12 who owned slaves, including 10 of the first 12 presidents — all but John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams. The last slave-owning president, Ulysses S. Grant, was the only one to emancipate his own slave before the Civil War in which his armies helped crush the Confederacy. That, and the fact that he was the only president to aggressively pursue Reconstruction and defend Black officeholders in the South, should probably count as some level of penance for his sins.

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