Racial animus was a powerful force in the 2016 election. Amongst other things, Trump surfed into the White House on a wave of white resentment towards the first black president. He vilified Hispanics and black Americans repeatedly during his campaign, using them as scapegoats for the country’s problems. Now he’s moving to legislate his bigotry.
Politico reports that during Trump’s signing of the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, he explicitly took aim at underprivileged groups.
Trump released a statement that federal funding of historically black colleges and universities is unconstitutional and should be stopped.
Historically, presidents issue these statements when signing bills to voice dissent over certain segments of the bill, without rejecting it in its entirety. Essentially, it’s him leaving the door open so that he can return to the issue at a later date
Trump draped his argument in the Constitution by ridiculously insisting the funding violates the requirement for equal protection of the law under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
The program provides loans to Historically Black Colleges and Universities to help build structures and facilities. It has existed since 1992. In 2017, HBCU’s will receive $20 million in loans.
Cheryl Smith, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs at the United Negro College Fund, explained that Trump’s statement is utterly nonsensical, and fundamentally misrepresents how historically black college funding works.
“The federal designation of an institution as an HBCU is not based on race, but rather on mission, accreditation status and the year the institution was established.” In other words, these schools don’t discriminate against other races, but rather work to give underprivileged demographics a leg up, so that they can be on equal footing in the educational world.
A law professor at the University South Carolina School of Law, Derek W. Black pointed out another problem with Trump’s statement:
“If Congress is validly spending money on these programs, and there’s no court finding or litigation suggesting discrimination, the idea that the executive would unilaterally not allocate those funds would be a rather momentous position to take.” It’s absurd for the president to suddenly decide to single out the funding when there are no suits alleging it to be unconstitutional.
Perhaps aiming to spread his hatred and discrimination around, he also took aim at education and housing programs for Native Americans.
The statement is an example of classic racist dogwhistle politics. Trump is signaling to his bigoted voters that he intends to pursue their abominable objectives.
Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.