You can’t effectively attack racism without reining in its most prominent promoter

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush belongs to one of America’s most established political families. He is the grandson of one U.S. president, the nephew of another and the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but because his mother was born in Mexico, he has felt the sting of racism.

Now, following the El Paso shootings, which targeted Hispanics, Bush has written an oped in The Atlantic denouncing white-nationalist terrorism as a “real threat to our country.” As a conservative Republican, Bush wrote, he wanted to “charge my party to take this challenge seriously.”

He also made some good points about “leading by example” against domestic terrorism and speaking honestly about the threat.

“Conservatives must defend all Americans from all threats,” he wrote. “There are no second-class Americans. All of us help make this country great.”

Very true. But Bush didn’t go far enough. He failed to confront the leader of his party, the president of the United States, whose immigrant-bashing rhetoric, attacks on minority members of Congress and racially tinged remarks have encouraged white supremacists to emerge from the shadows and act on their hatred.

Elected Republican officials in Texas refuse to criticize President Trump, at least in public, regardless of how low the man stoops. Trump isn’t responsible for white supremacism, but he keeps feeding the flames of bigotry, racism and divisiveness.

You may recall that George P. Bush endorsed Trump for president, even after Trump had ridiculed the land commissioner’s father, a Trump opponent in the 2016 race for the Republican nomination.

“From Team Bush, it’s a bitter pill to swallow,” the commissioner admitted at the time. “But…you get back up and you help the man that won, and you make sure that we stop Hillary Clinton.”

That was politics. But the war against racism and white supremacy is about more than the next election.

Trump must stop promoting hatred, and Bush and his Republican colleagues – beginning with John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick — need to find the courage to set partisan politics aside and demand that Trump stop his dangerous game.

If they don’t and Trump persists, George P. Bush and people who look like him won’t be welcome in the Republican Party much longer, and our country will become a very dangerous place for everybody.

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