Last Friday, Donald Trump made a stunning announcement, wrapped in a live infomercial for him and his new hotel, that he believes President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. This was a complete flip-flop for Trump, who began his presidential campaign on the “birther” conspiracy, falsely questioning President Obama’s birthplace and his birth certificate. When did Trump change his mind? Did he always believe that Obama is a full-blooded American and just lie all along to attract right wing extremists, including white supremacists? Trump didn’t stick around to answer these and other questions from the press.
Trump’s birther announcement comes at a time when America is being racked by police killings of unarmed black citizens. Yesterday, Tulsa, Oklahoma white police officer Betty Shelby was charged with first degree manslaughter for killing a black man, Terence Crutcher, who was waiting for help after his car had become disabled. In Charlotte, North Carolina, police killed Keith Lamont Scott who was waiting for his son to leave school for the day. Protesters have taken to the streets in Charlotte, as they have done in Ferguson, Missouri and many other locations after previous police killings of black Americans. It doesn’t help that, even though the Charlotte police killing of Keith Lamont Scott was caught on one or more police videos, the police are refusing to release the video.
These events and others are overshadowing the 2016 presidential election, largely turning it into a referendum on bigotry in America.