Donald Trump is the most racist president in American history, exceeding or tying Andrew Johnson when it comes to presidential racism, says a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian.
As HuffPost reports, Jon Meacham, who in 2009 won the Pulitzer for his biography of President Andrew Jackson, says that Trump’s tweets over the weekend solidify his place at the top of the list of racist presidents. Over the weekend, Trump said that four Democrat Congresswomen — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — should go back to their “broken” and “crime-infested” countries. Of the four, only one, Omar, was not born in the United States.
As far as Meacham is concerned, that puts Trump on the same level as Johnson. He also mentioned that Trump’s “birtherism” — that is, suggesting that Barack Obama was not born in the United States — and his other “lies” about Obama further back this up
Meacham also took particular exception to Trump’s seeming obsession with birthrights. He said that in America, “all men are created equal,” though he points out that that particular ideal hasn’t always been at the forefront of America’s actions.
“That journey toward a more perfect union is the story of the country,” he said.
Meacham points out that Johnson, who served as the 17th President, after Abraham Lincoln, once said that “African-Americans were incapable of self-government and relapsed into barbarism if they weren’t closely supervised.” Johnson also opposed the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to former slaves.
Of course, presidential racism is something that’s difficult to objectively quantify, and several presidents have said or done things, before, during or after their time in office, that could be considered racist. Several presidents, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, owned slaves, for example. Similarly, in 2015, Vox wrote of 28th President Woodrow Wilson that he was “racist even by the standards of his time.” Wilson, for example, presided over a purge of black federal workers, and once wrote that “a negro’s place is in the corn field.”
Meanwhile, allegations of racism aside, Meacham isn’t the only historian to view Donald Trump negatively in the context of other presidents. For example, in February, Siena University published the results of its poll of presidential experts, and in overall rankings, put Trump at 42nd place, behind Andrew Johnson and James Buchanan, and ahead of Warren G. Harding and Franklin Pierce. At the top of the 2018 rankings were George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.