You have to admire his nerve. Donald Trump has perfected a unique strategy of advancing racist policies while claiming those policies will protect the very people they target.
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump addressed a town hall hosted by Fox News celebrity Sean Hannity that aimed to bolster support for Mr. Trump among African Americans, who generally loathe him.
(The Republican presidential candidate painted a picture of American inner cities where crime is "worse than Afghanistan" – which is ludicrous, but let's move on.)
His proposed solution is to expand the policy of "stop and frisk," giving police the right to stop citizens without any particular cause, check their identity, and search for illegal weapons, drugs or whatever.
The policy is deeply controversial. Adopted by New York in the 1990s, "stop and frisk" allows police to keep watch on what they deem as suspicious characters without the inconvenience of a warrant or having to show probable cause.
A New York judge ordered major reforms to the practice in 2013, saying it was unconstitutional, and the city is working to overhaul the program. (The Liberal government in Ontario imposed severe restrictions on a similar policy, known as carding, earlier this year.) The vast majority of people stropped in New York under "stop and frisk" are black or Hispanic, which is why the policy is generally unpopular within those communities.
In reality, here's what the current mayor of New York has to say about the practice:
This is the Trump approach: He tells racial minorities that only he can rescue them from the poverty and violence some of them endure. But those very policies send a signal to racist whites that he will keep minorities in their place by expanding police power.
This election takes place against a backdrop of increasing tension between police, who are accused of shooting and killing black citizens without cause, and African Americans protesting those shootings, most recently in Charlotte, N.C. and Tulsa, Oklahoma. "The violence against our citizens and our law enforcement must be brought to a very rapid end," Mr. Trump responded Thursday morning, in a speech in Pittsburgh, adding "if you're not aware, drugs are a very, very big factor in what you're watching on television at night."
He would bring that violence to an end by giving police more powers in the very area that has led to so many shootings by police. It's hard to imagine many black Americans embracing that approach.
But then, none of Mr. Trump's proposals for minority communities – from deporting illegal Latino migrants to blocking Muslims from entering the country – are aimed at those communities.
His policies are clearly aimed at white voters who fear those communities. You could call it dog-whistle politics, but it seems to be a whole lot more blatant than that.