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Should we take her word for it?

Kara Young, a biracial woman who dated Donald Trump for two years in the late 1990s, says "I never heard him say a disparaging comment towards any race of people."

Ms. Young, a model with a black mother and a white father, told The New York Times she didn't hide her race from Mr. Trump. He asked her if she was kind of like Derek Jeter, the former New York Yankees baseball star. She said "exactly."

The two of them sometimes hung out with black celebrities and that didn't bother Mr. Trump. He had a good relationship with many black Americans, including Jesse Jackson. He gave free office space to Mr. Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Katrina Pierson, an African American who was a national spokesperson for the Trump election campaign, put it this way: "A racist does not pick a single black mother to represent his entire freaking presidential campaign."

Should we take her word for it?

So low have the affairs of state tumbled that Americans are wondering whether they have a racist President. Mr. Trump's explosive handling of the anthem protests, coming on top of the furor generated by his reaction to the Charlottesville, Va., protests, and his multitude of other racially charged actions have restoked racial tensions in the country.

In Washington, I get a sense of unease and distrust in daily transactions. It wasn't here before, not even a few months ago. Maybe it's more imagined than real, but even if imagined, it's a sign.

Ms. Pierson says that just because you are white and a nationalist doesn't make you a white nationalist. True, although it doesn't not make you one either. Especially if you consider other particulars of Mr. Trump's backstory.

He first drew suspicions over his attitude toward blacks way back in 1973 when the Justice Department brought a suit against he and his father for discriminatory practices in the family real estate business.

He drew big headlines with his call for the death penalty for blacks and Latinos convicted (wrongly as it turned out) of a rape in Central Park in 1989. At his Atlantic City casinos, managers alleged that when he and his wife entered, the black card dealers were ordered off the floor.

On allegations of police brutality against minorities, Mr. Trump was always quick to come to the defence of the police. He spearheaded the birther movement, falsely accusing the first black president of living a lie about his birthplace. He was slow to denounce white supremacist David Duke whose followers and other racist groups saw reason to support him.

He issued disparaging and despicable remarks on immigrants from Mexico, advocating a great wall to keep them out. To his appropriately named White House, Mr. Trump brought men with nativist, racially controversial backgrounds, such as Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions.

Then came the Muslim travel ban, then Charlottesville, then his call to have anthem protesters at football games ("sons of bitches") thrown out because they were disrespectful to the flag. "You know what else is disrespectful to our flag?" said Steve Kerr, a white coach in the National Basketball Association. "Racism."

Charlottesville brought the chin-jutting President searing condemnation, even from friends, allies, long-time supporters. Only his base supported him and that base isn't broad enough for him to win. It was thought, therefore, that Charlottesville might teach him a lesson, that he would be more sensitive to sensitivities. But his vile tantrum over the anthem protests demonstrated that it taught him nothing.

That piece of discrimination and others, the thread of them, are rooted in more than any desire to exploit cultural wedge issues for political gain. They're rooted in the type of man he is, where his instincts lie.

The racist categorization is too severe. But there's a deeply ingrained prejudice at work in this crude race-baiting President. It's like Donald Trump is still in the segregated pre-civil rights era, as though his mindset on race never progressed beyond the teen years. Despairingly for the United States, its President is a creature of those bigoted times.

In a heated news conference in New York, Donald Trump revisited his earlier comments on racist violence in Virginia, doubling-down on his initial statements saying 'both sides' were at fault in confrontations with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.