Trump declares himself champion of black people comparable to Lincoln
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Trump declares himself champion of black people comparable to Lincoln

83 percent of African Americans believe US president, who has a history of making racially tinged remarked, is racist

President Donald Trump visits Saint John Paul II National Shrine with first lady Melania Trump on June 2, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump visits Saint John Paul II National Shrine with first lady Melania Trump on June 2, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

US President Donald Trump, whose spotty record on race has made him deeply unpopular in the African American community, declared on Wednesday that he had done more to advance the cause of black people than any other leader in the history of the republic.

In a series of tweets, Trump boasted that he had “done more for Black Americans, in fact, than any President in U.S. history, with the possible exception of another Republican President, the late, great, Abraham Lincoln…and it’s not even close.”

Lincoln, the first Republican president, is revered by Americans for emancipating his country’s slaves during the Civil War.

Trump also compared himself favorably to Democratic challenger Joe Biden, pointing to his involvement in writing and passing a landmark 1994 crime bill that critics have cited as a catalyst for the mass incarceration of racial minorities over the past two decades.

“I’ve done much more for our Black population than Joe Biden has done in 43 years,” Trump tweeted. “Actually, he set them back big time with his Crime Bill, which he doesn’t even remember.”

Trump is deeply unpopular among African Americans, 83 percent of whom believe him to be a racist, according to a Washington Post-Ipsos poll released in January.

The US president has been dogged by allegations of racism for decades.

In 1973, the Nixon administration sued him for discriminating against African Americans by refusing to rent them apartments in Trump Management-run housing developments.

Police detain protesters in front of Trump Tower during a solidarity rally for George Floyd on May 30, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

One former Trump Organization executive later alleged that his boss had said he had “black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”

In the years leading up to his 2016 electoral victory, Trump was one of the most prominent exponents of the so-called “birther” conspiracy theory, which asserted that Barack Obama, America’s first black president, was not born in the United States and was thus not eligible to sit in the White House.

While campaigning for president, he called on black voters to support him by asserting that they lived in squalor.

“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?” he asked at a campaign appearance.

In 2018, he questioned why the US would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa rather than places like Norway.

“What do we want Haitians here for? Why do we want all these people from Africa here? Why do we want all these people from shithole countries,” he asked.

The next year, he tweeted that a group of Democratic congresswomen of color should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Trump’s standing in the African American community took a serious hit over the past week as protests and riots have engulfed the US in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who died on May 25 after he was restrained by a Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes while the handcuffed black man called out that he couldn’t breathe.

The protests, which in many places were met with force by police, have devolved into riots in a number of major cities, prompting Trump to call for even harsher responses and threaten to send in the military to restore order.

On May 30, he tweeted that if protesters had breached the White House fence, they would have been “greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”

The use of dogs against African Americans protesters was a common tactic during the 1960s civil rights struggle.

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