Chuck D: Why Donald Trump Is a White Supremacist
The Public Enemy frontman, whose self-titled debut album with Prophets of Rage is available now, sounds off on President Trump—and the ‘sinister’ people in his orbit.
Trump is a bloated mess—and a weapon of mass distraction. Many people are so turned off and perturbed by the whole Trump-POTUS charade that they fail to understand that there are other things in motion behind the scenes.
On our track “Hail to the Chief,” we decided to focus on the seriousness of Vice President Mike Pence, who basically ran a regime in the state of Indiana that was a disturbing throwback rife with political and administrative bias. The wheels are now in motion for an eight-year regime that will prove very difficult for a lot of people to swallow. The music video to “Hail to the Chief” isn’t an attack on Pence, but rather lays bare who this guy is while posing the question: Why is everybody not paying attention to this guy in the background? It’s important not to trivialize this dude. There’s an underlying layer to this administration that is very sinister.
To me, David C-Doc Snyder is the greatest videographer of all-time. He’s been Public Enemy’s videographer for the last decade, and is able to brilliantly hone in on a subject. On the topic of Charlottesville, when you can’t condemn live and actual racists, you might as well be doing the Nazi salute, like Trump does in the video. He’s a 70-year-old white alpha male who looks down on other peoples, and bullies others to get what he wants. If that’s not supremacy, then what the fuck is? He’s the epitome of a white supremacist. He’s not about sharing the world; he’s about taking. He has no concern for the future of the world because he’s selfish, and is only going to be around for 10, 15 more years.
Trump also didn’t condemn those racists who marched on Charlottesville because he doesn’t want to lose his base. Everything has turned into entertainment to the point where we think politicians actually have “fan bases” now. They’re not rock stars—even though Trump’s calling Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man.” Everything cannot be popularized, and we’re in a society now that popularizes everything within a system of “popular” versus “unpopular.” Whatever happened to a person wanting to do the dirty work and not get any points for it? We don’t need the person who governs our country to have a freestyle, too. Obama wasn’t trying to be cool; he was just a cool black dude. All this trying to be cool has gone too far. It boggles the mind. So this toxic mindset reached the point where the country voted for a TV-star president. Donald Trump, some asshole television personality, as president of the United States? Get outta here.
The other day I was half-asleep in front of the TV and overheard a news report that said, “Trump and his generals.” As a sports fan, I immediately had a flashback to 1984 when he owned the New Jersey Generals of the USFL. Then I woke up and realized, oh, this guy’s in charge of real generals. It’s a crazy thing. So, Trump with a Nazi salute? Why not.
But we have to remember that Donald Trump’s rhetoric resonated enough to get him in the White House, and to actually get votes against the other candidate, Hillary Clinton, who wasn’t a pretty picture either. Because really, who wanted a monarchy? So, with all this mass distraction going on, there’s something that lies in the background that’s going to be a stench that will stink for the next 40 years, long after these people are gone. If you really give a damn about what world your children are going to inherit, you have to rail against these regimes now. It’s our duty.
The lynching images in the music video for “Hail to the Chief” are from America’s past, and used symbolically to represent what’s been happening in this country over the past decade. There was racial animosity towards the Obama administration that was completely uncalled for. If they had a chance to kill him, they would have. What I mean by “they” is, if the adversarial, far-right wing of society got away with what they wanted to get away with, President Obama would have been hanging from a tree. And that is the truth.
I recorded the track “Rebel Without a Pause” in 1987, and strangely enough, that song’s lyrics were in part inspired by Biz Markie who, in “Nobody Beats the Biz,” had one of the great political hip-hop lines that’s been largely overlooked: “Reagan is the Pres but I voted for Shirley Chisholm.” That line is so powerful that it inspired me to write this entire song about Ronald Reagan. At that time, R&B stood for Reagan and Bush. There were a lot of policies that affected people of color that we’re still fighting to free ourselves of now. President Obama helped unthread some, but we’ve been thrust into a situation where these discriminatory policies are being revived by the Trump administration. There’s a reason why Trump stole Reagan’s slogan. “Make America Great Again” means that the white male will always reign supreme, and there’s no room for anybody else.
Being black and taking on the term “radical” is all about survival. You must be radical to survive. Trump, after all, is the frontman for the rock group that is the United States of America. Trump has no moral scruples, no ethics, no knowledge of laws. Trump doesn’t know anything other than what he wants to know. But all the king’s men are different. Mike Pence is different. Jeff Sessions is different. How long will Trump be in office? Health-wise, I don’t think he’ll be there longer than two years, which is what inspired me to write “Hail to the Chief.” He’ll slide further and further into irrationality. If he doesn’t get impeached, he’ll come up with his own trumped-up reasons for why he can’t do the job. And then we’ll have to deal with the tyranny of Mike Pence.
Welcome to the United States of America.
As told to Marlow Stern