He also said Obama’s race factored into why Republicans were so intent on blocking his agenda.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh (D) said Tuesday that he believes Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election is in part a backlash against America’s first black president and the progress African-Americans have made in the United States.
In an interview with The Boston Globe, Walsh said that he agreed with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who told Salon after the election that Trump’s victory was a backlash against black progress.
“I would hope as a country we have gone beyond that,’’ Walsh said. “But I’m afraid that is not the case. I’ll go a step further. President Obama, from the day he got into office, was not allowed to really push his agenda along, and a lot of the Republicans had an agenda to not let him be successful. And despite their efforts to make him not successful, he’s gonna go down in history in a lot of cases as a great president.”
Part of the Republican insistence on blocking Obama, Walsh said, “is based on race.”
The morning after Trump was elected, Gates told Salon that Trump’s election marked the end of America’s “second Reconstruction.”
“It was a longer Reconstruction. … But that election clearly represented a backlash against the progress black people have made since 1965 — epitomized, symbolically, by the election and term of a black man in the White House,” he said. “I have absolutely no doubt that this election reflected both anxiety and resentment — and an enormous amount of fear and insecurity. And the two things are tied together: There’s an enormous amount of economic anxiety, that’s understandable, that working people feel.”
“But it got transformed figuratively into xenophobia — anxiety about immigrants, people of color and the ultimate symbol: a black man in the White House,” he continued.
Trump helped launch his political career by stoking the racist theory that Obama was not born in the United States. He earned the backing of white nationalists and appointed Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, whose website traffics in racist, homophobic and sexist content, to serve as a senior adviser in the White House.
Gates was at the center of a controversy early in Obama’s presidency when the Harvard professor was mistakenly arrested in his own home. Obama said that police had “acted stupidly” in arresting the professor, but later invited both Gates and the officer to the White House for a beer.
Sam Levine is an associate politics editor at The Huffington Post. He graduated from the University of Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @srl.