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'I am the least racist person anywhere in the world,' Donald Trump says

He made the comments at the first permanent English settlement in the United States, marking 400 years of representative democracy.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP visited the site of the first permanent English settlement in the United States to mark 400 years of representative democracy, but black State lawmakers boycotted the event in protest at what many say is his open racism.

The political firestorm has engulfed the Republican leader over the last week, yet he appeared in no hurry to calm things down at the ceremony in Jamestown, Virginia.

Departing the White House for the short flight to Jamestown, Trump said he was no racist, but claimed that one of his main accusers – prominent civil rights activist Al Sharpton – was himself a racist.

“I am the least racist person anywhere in the world,” Trump told reporters.

Trump Jamestown Source: Steve Helber

Over the past two weeks, Trump has laid repeatedly into four non-white Democratic congresswomen, a respected black Democratic lawmaker from Baltimore, and Sharpton.

That pattern has prompted an outpouring of criticism that Trump is deliberately deepening racial divisions in a pitch to his white, working-class base ahead of his 2020 reelection bid.

The speech in Jamestown is timed to celebrate the 1619 creation of the first legislative assembly in Jamestown set up to rule the nascent English colony – a forerunner of US democracy.

But even this has become caught up in the combustible atmosphere stoked by Trump’s deeply unusual tirades against the likes of Sharpton.

Jamestown was not only home to some of the first European settlers in the United States, but also early African slaves, making the settlement a symbol of both America’s history as a refuge for immigrants and, until 1865, a place of mass slavery.

Trump Departs for Williamsburg First Representative Legislative Assembly Commemoration Source: Marovich Pete/ABACA

Virginia’s black state lawmakers said they were boycotting the commemoration because it had been “tarnished” by Trump.

“It is impossible to ignore the emblem of hate and disdain that the President represents,” the lawmakers said in a statement, also accusing Trump of using “racist and xenophobic rhetoric”.

A defiant Trump tweeted while en route to Jamestown: “Word is the Democrats will make it as uncomfortable as possible, but that’s ok because today is not about them!”

Tweet by @Donald J. Trump Source: Donald J. Trump/Twitter

Baltimore blues

Apart from lashing out at a series of prominent non-white lawmakers, Trump has turned particular ire on Baltimore, a port city near Washington with a majority black population and long-time dominance by Democratic politicians.

Over the weekend, Trump described Baltimore as a “rat and rodent infested mess” unfit for humans and blamed this on Elijah Cummings, the Democrat who represents much of the city in Congress.

 

Tweet by @Donald J. Trump Source: Donald J. Trump/Twitter

He then attacked Sharpton for coming to Baltimore’s defense, tweeting that “Al is a con man” who “Hates Whites & Cops!”

Sharpton responded that Trump is a bigot with “venom for blacks.”

Today, Trump denied that the controversy, which breaks with all norms in Washington, has hurt him, claiming instead that residents from Baltimore were phoning en masse to thank him for calling out what he says is the city’s disastrous leadership.

“African-American people have been calling the White House. They have never been so happy for what our president has done,” he said of himself.

The claimed flood of phone calls could not be independently verified. However, opinion polls show that support for Trump among black voters nationwide is at rock bottom.

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AFP

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