Donald Trump supports racial profiling, a Muslim registry, and a deportation force tasked with rounding up Latinos. One of his first acts as president-elect was appointing a white nationalist as his chief strategist.
But MSNBC host Joe Scarborough explained on Tuesday that people of color shouldn’t be particularly worried about any of this. Why? Because if Trump tries to implement discriminatory policies, Scarborough believes the courts will come to the rescue.
During a Morning Joe discussion with author Anand Giridharadas framed around Trump’s proposal to strip citizenship from political protesters, Giridharadas said that “for people who look like us, [last Thursday] was the first Thanksgiving we celebrated with a measure of fear about the year to come. Physical fear. Fear about what will happen to people who look like us and people of many other kinds in this country.”
Giridharadas cited the way Trump has emboldened racists both online and offline as a reason for that fear.
“I think it matters to have the institutional backing of a president-elect of the United States, have said a record of things that jibe with what you are saying,” he said. “I think it makes you less of a basement troll when somebody who ran on and flirted with and said some of the same kind of thoughts won an election.”
During the ensuring discussing, Scarborough accused Giridharadas of “not being rational right now.” He said he has “confidence in the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Giridharadas replied, “I’m not being rationale because I take the President-elect of the United States at his word?” He mentioned how events like terrorist attacks can quickly lead to the adoption of policies that would otherwise seem unacceptable.
“Certain moments — a terrorist attack of a particular kind that fills people with fear — gives the president a license to do things he could not do two days before,” Giridharadas said. “We know that with mass surveillance, we know that with torture, we know that with internment.”
Scarborough, however, wasn’t convinced.
“You have a situation where it’s the boy who cried wolf, and everybody keeps talking about him being a neo-Nazi, and then what happens is, what do you call him next after you’ve called him a neo-Nazi when perhaps somebody in the administration does suggest something that runs afoul of the Constitution?” he said.
“There’s a reason why dictators have not been able to do in our country over the past 240 years what they’ve been able to do in other countries,” Scarborough added. “That’s because James Madison put together a Constitution along with Alexander Hamilton that created a system of checks and balances.”
Giridharadas pointed out that “checks and balances” didn’t prevent torture, mass surveillance, internment, segregation, or slavery from becoming the law of the land at different points in American history. But Scarborough still wouldn’t back down.
“I just personally have confidence in the Supreme Court of the United States and Congress and the system of checks and balance in our Constitution that I do think that we don’t need to jump of windows,” he replied.
Even though Trump won’t be sworn in until January 20, Giridharadas’ fears have already come to fruition. As ThinkProgress detailed on Monday, there have already been more than 700 hate incidents since the November 8 election.
Sadly, more could be coming. In the wake of an attack by a Somali-American Ohio State University student on Monday, Somali leaders are expressing concern they could be targeted for violence. During his campaign, Trump fanned the flames of anti-Somali sentiment by equating Somalis with terrorists during a campaign stop in Minnesota just days before the election.
“Everybody’s reading about the disaster taking place in Minnesota,” Trump said, referring to Somali migrants settling in the region. “You’ve suffered enough.”