He's not--but his views are complex than can easily be asserted in 140 characters--and some of the answers might surprise you.
He promised to write something on this--so let's do it!
First Things First: He CAN'T/MUST Be A Racist Because--
Let's get something out of the way first: there are plenty of people who say, with some justification, that Trump cannot be a racist because:
- His daughter is a Jewish convert and his son-in-law is a Holocaust survivor's grandson--so he can'ti be antisemitic.
- He won an Ellis Island award for helping [ black people? ]
- Attestations from personal relationships (with black people and others) that say he's alright.
- The Civil Rights lawsuit that showed that he, running Trump industries, treated black people differently and worse. The Trump family negotiated their way out of a guilty verdict--but did not really refute the charges.
- Continued insistence after it's shown to be bullshit that the Central Park 5 are somehow actually guilty.
- Asserting that Obama's Birth Certificate was fake (and sticking to it today, kinda).
- Various quotes about Jewish accountants or whatever.
- His dad was arrested at a Klan rally.
So what are we to make of all this? Well, The Omnivore will tell you (what he thinks--since apparently the disclaimer is needed).
Trump Is About Like A LOT Of 70+ Year Olds
What "being racist" in America means has changed--and fairly recently. Back in the day, you were racist if you wore a Klan hood, or prattled on about the Protocols of Zion or what have you. Sometime, maybe in the 90's? It changed so that how you salted your eggs in the morning could somehow be a racist tell.
This is an exaggeration--but the point remains: how we talk and think about racism (Institutional Racism, micro-aggressions, innate racial responses, negative-racial-opinions, etc.) has changed. People haven't.
On the flip-side, however, having black friends or Jewish family members you treat well isn't proof that you don't hold negative opinions of black people or think "Jews are good with money." People make exceptions for family all the time. We are human--we compartmentalize, rationalize, and so on. We are not natively creatures of principle. Winning an award for good works or having black friends is proof you aren't a hard core Klan-marching race-warrior. But it isn't proof that you don't think that blacks are somehow genetically more criminally inclined or less intelligent than whites (etc.).
Conversely, the running of large apartment complexes can be "economically racist" even if the person running them isn't especially. If you think (with some significant justification) that moving a few black people into a unit makes it less desirable for white people (with some significant justification) you might act to prevent it even if you don't hate black people.
Similarly, the Central Park 5--when Trump suggested they were all guilty, etc. a lot of people thought that was true. The fact that he (apparently) still maintains that (even when it's patently not true) is first and foremost evidence that Trump never backs down or changes his mind about anything.
The Birth Certificate, similarly: Believing that Obama has some weird hidden backstory was a (racist) narrative promoted by the right-wing media. According to reports The Omnivore found credible, Trump really did pay people to go to Hawaii and investigate. It turns out? It's a short investigation. Obama was born there. The sentiment that Obama was a fraud was, generally correctly, read by black voters as a racist sentiment based on the conspiratorial thinking, lack of evidence, and lack of common sense to it--but, again, Trump's belief in it is not necessarily covering powerful and blanket racist views of all black people--he just really didn't like Obama.
The Net-Net: The Omnivore thinks that Trump is about as racist ('racist'?) as a lot of 70 year old men who watch Fox News. He's not some super-crypto-racist who secretly has a Klan-hood in his closet. If the apocryphal "Apprentice 'Nigger' Tape" were to come out, The Omnivore would not be shocked to find gambling in the establishment.
On the other hand, if, as the current evidence suggests, it doesn't exist, The Omnivore wouldn't be shocked either.
However, that doesn't clear Trump the way one might expect. Trump has been a rich guy--a very rich guy--for almost all his life. He has gotten far saying things that most people don't--and he, and this is pretty obvious to everyone, thinks so highly of himself he doesn't believe he has ever done anything wrong:
For a president of the United States in a mixed-race (and racially fraught) America we don't want an average 70-year-old as the president. Your average "blunt, plain-spoken, uncle" is watching Fox & Friends and yelling at the TV. . . . Uh--hey, wait a minute--
We want someone who recognizes that the kind of racism that existed in the past is divisive. We want someone who recognizes that saying Obama had a faked Birth Certificate is a character flaw (and it's even more of one if he didn't believe it) and tries to do better.
Trump is not these things. No--Trump, in fact, is kind of the opposite. He is a person who believes that, because he thinks he is without sin, he is justified in whatever belief he holds--and justified in whatever pursuit of power he decides to go on.
Which brings us to . . .
Trump is Exploiting / Enabling White Supremacists
Trump is not a white-nationalist racist (as far as we know)--but he certainly holds views that they like. We can see that in nearly uniform endorsement of him from the white supremacist community--something that has no precedent in modern history. White kids in school use Trump's name to taunt non-white kids. Marchers in Charlottesville wore Trump hats and chanted "Trump" while marching with literal Nazis.
There is a reason for this--the reason is that Trump is by his behavior and words--making it more-okay to be a white supremacist in America.
If that sounds horrible, let's make sure we get a few things straight.
He Has In Fact, Disavowed
Trump has disavowed David Duke (and even did it before the famous 'ear-piece' incident). He has said bad things about Neo-Nazis and White Nationalist. He said all those things. The problem is that Obama said a lot of stuff too--and no one who liked Obama focused on the bad things Obama said--they focused on the good things. People who didn't like Obama? They focused on the bad.
People who liked Obama gave him the benefit of the doubt. No one who didn't like Obama gave him the benefit of the doubt.
So when Trump talks about "many sides," the white supremacists see that as proof that he's okay with them since, he is elevating antifa to their level--and America didn't fight a war against antifa--nor did they gas millions of Jews.
The problem is that we did fight a war against the Nazis and they did gas millions of Jews--and so to a bunch of ordinary people it--yes--looks insane for Trump to put these two on the same moral plane (he says he didn't do that--but, of course, it sure looks like he did).
The Nazis know that the president of the United States is going to have to say something about them--something bad--when he says what appears to be the least bad thing he can--the most boiler-plate denunciation and the forced-looking Monday-night "hostage video" that is way, way, WAY more than they asked for. It's more than they could hope for. Denouncing Nazis in the strongest terms is about the easiest thing a president can do.
So why didn't he?
Why Trump Didn't Do A Better Job Of Denouncing Nazis
There are dozens of theories about this--but instead of tackling each one at length, The Omnivore is going to tell you what the correct one is (yes, yes, The Omnivore knows how that sounds--How about The One The Omnivore is Interested In Discussing? Better?).
Trump has a hard time denouncing Nazis because he is wired to stand up for his base against Political Correctness. His base does believe that antifa is as bad as the Nazis. Part of this is a weird Fox-News understanding of what has happened recently--but part of it is that antifa calls "all Trump-voters Nazis" and non-Nazi Trump-voters really hate that. By hitting both-sides he aids white supremacists--but he also validates the millions (yes, millions) of people who voted for him who feel like they are in a culture war with leftists.
Remember that Trump's major value proposition thus far is upsetting liberals and he's definitely doing that. If he had denounced the Charlottesville Nazis and not said a word about antifa a lot of his voters would have felt like he caved to Political Correctness. That would be the unpardonable sin in today's political climate.
Antifa wears all black--they wave the Russian / Soviet flag. They are avowed socialists when they are not being violent anarchists. The signifiers they have adopted (dress, slogans, iconography) are that of the far-left. They are ideological opposites of the Trump coalition.
As such, they are on the same emotional plane with the Nazis even if they are mostly lame idiot mama's boys and American white nationalists have, to their name, an impressive body count and real, multi-state criminal organizations.
So Trump was in a bind: did he support his base? Or his nation?
He did what he'd always done--what he did during the campaign--since day one. He fed the wolf that was most likely to vote for him.