It's finally happened I think. Ever since Donald Trump entered the campaign to become President of these United States, he's been toying with bigotry and racism to quicken a portion of the American electorate who see that the life they imagine might be slipping away and that all those folks who look and sound different from the likes of Dick and Jane might be the cause.
Nativisim is nothing new to America, it's part of the sometimes cringe-worthy DNA of this country which has justified many an attack on groups of red, brown, and black folks in the name of country. Sadly it has taken a personal attack on one specific man to crack the shell which has protected Trump as he's paraded one intemperate remark after another into the public square. And some are mystified that with all he said, that this single attack on a single man might be the one that changes the game. But I think I know what the problem is.
When Trump initiated his campaign by suggesting that Mexican immigrants (legal and otherwise) were comprised of rapists and murderers, he announced that he was trading on his birther past to start a new strain of unpalatable palaver. Excuses were made, and many looked at this start was merely a novice politician making a stylistic miscue. Then he called for a ban on all Muslims and despite the inherently unconstitutional nature of this wretched recommendation he was again allowed to clean up the remark though the conflation of Muslim and Syrian was allowed to stand. (His listeners all knew what he meant anyway.)
Then he attacks the judge and it all changed. No longer could his fellow Republicans pretend that Trump was just a callous politician who cynically sought to activate the racist strain in American politics with assorted subsonic hints. No they were confronted with the cold terror that they had just nominated and in many cases endorsed a true-blue racist to lead their party. He didn't play a bigot on TV, he was the real deal and that cannot be tolerated.
So finally the backlash has come as it ought to have months ago. But the emotions he's activated in the electorate, the "silent majority" who simmer in the cities, the suburbs, and beyond are still present and now they've been shown that their "polticially incorrect opinions" (read "racism") are more greatly shared than they might have imagined. Bigots have been given balm for their rotten opinions and I fear we haven't heard the last of these.
The Republicans have been throwing matches into this dangerous kindling for years now and it's finally caught fire. Attempts to build breaks are necessary, but once a fire starts it's difficult and dangerous to extinguish, and not everyone might get out intact. But the fire must be fought, and hopefully finally those who play with it see the danger. Maybe.