Breaking down Donald Trump’s impeachment acquittal statement and exploring the coded language meant for his followers

Shortly after Donald Trump was acquitted for inciting an insurrection in the U.S. Senate, he released a statement that has been making the rounds on far-right social media channels. It is being celebrated as a victory for the supporters of the amalgamation of extremist hate known as Trumpism and various members of hate groups. Despite the obvious paranoia about informants within the broad membership of extremist groups, most remain consistent in their messaging.

Recruitment efforts don’t appear to have slowed and despite higher profile groups exhibiting internal conflict, Trump knows precisely what to say and when to say it. His administration along with his personal team have clearly monitored far-right channels and have been feeding the rabid mob of white nationalist supporters with rhetoric that aligns with their beliefs. In what is known as dog-whistle politics, a tactic once used by politicians to signal the Ku Klux Klan and their leaders has since been appropriated to signal white nationalist fears about displacement.

That signaling strategy — that the far-right uses while cloaking themselves as the Republican Party — has led to the explosion in hate groups and extremist group membership. As the Republican Party employed more extremist and explosive language since the implementation of the Southern Strategy in the late 1960s, so did the general public. The normalization of hate speech saw its rebirth when Republicans took a hard stance against the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.

Coupled with the inherent complacency of American society, the normalization of hate speech allowed for white supremacy to become more deeply ingrained within the capitalist systems that dictate how society operates. The systemic oppression of minority groups in American society is so pervasive that the idea of equality is seen as an attack on White people. When Black people speak up about state-sanctioned killings, White America sees that as an attack on them. When minorities speak up about systems of oppression and White people get offended, they’re telling on themselves

The reactionary tendencies of White America are precisely the result of the growing extremist sentiment that bolsters current conservative ideology. Conservatives have been approaching this from many angles. From using Christo-fascism against women and the LGBTQ community to using “economic anxiety” to signal xenophobes to using “Black crime” in the name of stoking fear in the minds of White people, it all represents modern conservatism.

Trump’s post-acquittal statement touches on all of these things and more.

The Statement

Sent via email, here’s Donald Trump’s full statement:

“I want to first thank my team of dedicated lawyers and others for their tireless work upholding justice and defending truth.

“My deepest thanks as well to all of the United States Senators and Members of Congress who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.

“Our cherished Constitutional Republic was founded on the impartial rule of law, the indispensable safeguard for our liberties, our rights and our freedoms.

“It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree. I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.

“This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.

“I also want to convey my gratitude to the millions of decent, hardworking, law-abiding, God-and-Country loving citizens who have bravely supported these important principles in these very difficult and challenging times.

“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it!

“We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future.

“Together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

“We remain one People, one family, and one glorious nation under God, and it’s our responsibility to preserve this magnificent inheritance for our children and for generations of Americans to come.

“May God bless all of you, and may God forever bless the United States of America.”

The Breakdown

Some of the language in the statement sends an obvious message.

Immediately after giving props to his attorneys and invoking the word “truth” as if to prove his honesty, he jumps right into bashing more than half of the country by demonizing the ruling party and their supporters using the same propaganda used in hate group and extremist circles. Let’s be clear, he’s demonizing Black Lives Matter. Dog-whistle politics has grown in popularity because it grants those pushing hate speech plausible deniability.

He then jumps right into the “cancel culture” crying game as if suffering the consequences for running your mouth is inherently evil. He then mentions how he supports those who “honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate,” meaning he wants us to accept the fact that half of America is either racist or unbothered by racism and we should shut up about it.

He then continues his attack on the over 80 million Americans, particularly Black people and people of color who voted for Joe Biden. He once again mentions the 75 million that voted for him signaling to his supporters that there’s no way Biden could have beat that number. Doing so brings back the memory of his administration’s attack on largely Black counties in several states in an attempt to invalidate their votes and overturn the election.

He then gives a shout-out to the Christo-fascists in mentioning his “gratitude to the millions of decent, hardworking, law-abiding, God-and-Country loving citizens.” This coded language suggests that only those he described can be patriots. That they must be God-loving nationalists to be decent human beings. Decent Americans. That what we’re experiencing now are trying times; not when he was in office. His being a Godsend to them makes his administration perfect despite the hate, death, ripping apart families, and crippling the poor while giving to the rich.

Finally, the mother of all dog-whistles comes when he talks about “our” country. His whole life he has made it clear that he has superior genes. He’s made it clear what he thinks about Black people, Latinos, and Jews. When he became president, those views only became more incendiary and dangerous. He finally reached the highest office in the land and his voice could not have been amplified more. Those that heard him first were some of the worst this country has to offer.

When he utters the words “our country” we know who he’s talking to. White people. Particularly the White people on his side. The words, “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement … continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people” doesn’t include all of us. If it did, it would have said “all people”. By employing the use of the word “our” he’s letting White people know he intends to continue fighting for “their” country.

Sure, his statement is a signal to politicians that his brand of politics isn’t going anywhere and that he intends to stay in the political game — as many pundits have suggested. But those same pundits continue to overlook the obvious coded language and it’s no wonder why that is.

Especially when it’s so obvious.

Screengrab of Donald Trump’s statement delivered via email

(Featured Image by Dalton Caraway on Unsplash)

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Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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