Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian Jon Meacham says that President Donald Trump has now earned the dubious distinction of joining Andrew Johnson as “the most racist president in American history.”
During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball” Monday evening, Meacham noted that Trump’s attacks on four progressive female members of Congress — all of whom are women of color — are a direct repudiation of what the Republican Party once said it believed:
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“It’s long been said, President Reagan said it quite well, that America is the one place on earth that is not about a birthright. It’s about the ascent to an idea.
“An idea that was written in one of the most important sentences ever in the English language, that all men were created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.
“We didn’t apply that fully then, we haven’t applied it fully now. But that journey towards a more perfect union is the story of the country.”
Meacham then noted that Trump’s latest remarks are part of a larger pattern:
“And what the president’s done here is, yet again, because he did it after Charlottesville and I think he did it, frankly, when he was pushing the birther lie about PRESIDENT OBAMA, is he has joined Andrew Johnson as the most racist president in American history.”
Johnson, it should be noted, once said that African-Americans were incapable of governing themselves and would revert to barbarism if they weren’t supervised by whites.
This country, Meacham added, has to take responsibility for the president it elected in 2016:
“When people say, ‘This isn’t who we are,’ that’s not true. It is who we are. It’s who we are on our worst day and it’s pointless to try to expiate ourselves from what Trump has been saying.
“There is a complicity, there is a national complicity in this, and the way America moves forward is 51 percent of the time we’re with Lincoln instead of Andrew Johnson.”
Or, to borrow a phrase from the late cartoonist Walt Kelly, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
Featured Image Via NBC News