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American Racists: Donald Trump and Thomas Jefferson

1456942615_featured.jpegTrump calls Mexicans killers, rapists, and criminals. He assures us that “the Mexicans” love him, but says Mexico is sending people with lots of problems, bringing drugs and crime. Trump isn’t simply making an argument for immigration reforms to protect jobs or preserve culture.

Lodged in his hotel room looking over the streets of Philadelphia in 1776, Jefferson penned an equally dishonest indictment of Native Americans as he drafted the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson set aside his past praise for tribal leaders, mostly Christianized and in Western dress who had visited London in failing efforts to seek protection from land-hungry settlers, but colored his draft Declaration describing “merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions”.

Jefferson’s reduction of a quarter million Native Americans to the vicious caricature of “merciless savages” may have had value as propaganda, though most people knew at the time that troubles with Indian nations began with unscrupulous traders, arrogance, and the land hunger of illegal white settlers.

Like Trump, Jefferson realized that with the Declaration he was in a “yuge negotiation” and he needed propaganda for a legal brief justifying independence. The Declaration of Independence, wasn’t, after all, a statement of truth or principles. Smart people stretch things and can’t afford to be honest when stakes are involved.

Founding Fathers reviewed Jefferson’s draft and let the blasphemy stand. Ben Franklin and John Adams approved, and the statement was ratified 86 times by the Continental Congress before becoming official. The silence of historians through the ages on Jefferson’s disingenuous charges has been deafening. The “revolution” was for white men and property owners, with little franchise for blacks, natives, or women.

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