At a campaign rally on Tuesday, socialist Senator Bernie Sanders called President Trump “the most racist, sexist, homophobic, bigoted president in history.” Racial minorities seem not to have gotten the memo, as support for Trump among black and Hispanic voters has surged in recent months and the Jewish State names a train station after Trump in Jerusalem. Likewise Trump’s alleged sexism must come as a surprise to the historically large number of women he has appointed to senior administration roles, as well as to the gay voters who watched him wave a rainbow flag on stage before acknowledging the “our LGBTQ community” at his party’s national convention — a first for a Republican presidential nominee.
The racism charge is rich coming from Sanders, whose sometime political party waged the bloodiest war in American history to preserve slavery, founded the Ku Klux Klan, instituted Jim Crow laws, opposed civil rights legislation for a century, and destroyed the black family. Socialists like Sanders don’t know much about history, so in the spirit of education, let’s examine some truly racist presidents.
In 1913, Democrat president Woodrow Wilson re-segregated the federal government, replaced 88% of black federal service supervisors with whites, and by 1914 began requiring photographs from government job applicants. Wilson’s racial bigotry stands out even by the standards of his age, and his Republican predecessors Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft made a determined effort to appoint black Americans to public office. By contrast, Wilson defended the Ku Klux Klan in passages that later appeared in D.W. Griffith’s infamous film The Birth of a Nation, which Wilson screened at the White House.
After the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Democrat president Franklin Roosevelt snubbed black, four-time gold medal winner Jesse Owens from a reception honoring exclusively white American competitors. Owens might have counted himself lucky, however, comparing his treatment with that of other racial minorities during Roosevelt’s reign. In 1942, Roosevelt arrested and interned more than 100,000 Japanese Americans, while curiously sparing Americans of German and Italian descent, by executive order.
Lyndon Johnson has the laudable distinction of becoming the only Democrat president in history to sign a Civil Rights Act, albeit a century after Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 over Democrat president Andrew Johnson’s veto. (Republican presidents would go on to enact additional Civil Rights Acts in 1871, 1875, 1957, 1960, and 1991.) Nevertheless, Johnson remained virulently racist in his personal conduct, referring to Asians as “hordes of barbaric yellow dwarves,” according to biographer Robert Caro, and driving trunk-loads of snakes to gas stations to scare black attendants. Johnson’s chauffeur Robert Parker recalled that Johnson once asked him if he would prefer to be called by his name rather than by various, demeaning nicknames. He said yes, and in Parker’s telling Johnson responded, “No one’s gonna call you by your goddamn name. So no matter what you are called, nigger, you just let it roll off your back like water. ... Just pretend you’re a goddamn piece of furniture.”
Bernie Sanders’ historical ignorance comes as no surprise; even the left-wing Washington Post editorial board has acknowledged Sanders’ “shocking ignorance.” Unfortunately for the future of our democratic republic, such ignorance appears to be widespread and worsening among the voting public.