First off, I am not a Trump supporter. However, I do not think his comments were racist, they were worse. You see a racist believes there are fundamental differences between races and some races are better or worse than others. This was the view of Darwin, Nazis, WWII Japan, pre Civil War south, Jim Crow South, Industrial North East, and many others throughout history. This sort of view can lead to mistreatment, abuse, and genocide. It might very well be thought of as the worst possible view of humanity… except perhaps for one that is even worse.
There is a view that we not only can but should kill babies with deformities because humans as a whole have no intrinsic value, only utilitarian value. Entire populations who are less than useful can be starved to death (communist Russia) not because they are bad, but because they are not helpful. It is no tragedy since they are nothing but a bag of meat wrapped around bones inside a bag of skin. This view would also say that when a person costs more to treat than they are monetarily worth we ought to just put them outside to die. It lacks any guidance of right and wrong. Racism is wrong in that it measures the value of a person based on their genes, and some people have little or no intrinsic value. The utilitarian view is that nobody has intrinsic value.
Let’s look then at Trump’s comments:
“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump”
“What happens is the judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine,”
“He’s proud of his his heritage. I respect him for that,”
“He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.”
And then he goes on to say his comments were not racist, they were misconstrued. I believe Trump on that. Trump does not believe that Curiel’s race affects his ability, only that it affects what group Curiel identifies with. This is the same reason Trump is fine with transsexuals, homosexuals, and is free to switch parties at will. In Trump’s mind there is no such thing as right or wrong, only what group you identify with, and who is useful to you. Curiel is part of a different group, and so is not useful. Let’s put it a different way: Curiel has Mexican heritage. Curiel might have ruled in ways that favor Trump, that would make him a Trump supporter and a full member of the team. However, the trial is going poorly, so Curiel must be a part of a different team, and Trump identifies that team as “team Mexican.” The problem has nothing to do with Curiel’s race, it has only to do with his team. For a racist if Curiel tried to change teams he would not be accepted, for Trump any change in team is accepted because the team is everything, and the heritage is only meaningful insomuch as it relates to your team.
Trump is willing to change from team pro-choice to team pro-life, from team handout to team self-responsibility, from team go-to-Lybia to team Lybia-is-a-mistake, from team hire-illegals to team build-a-wall. Trump does not try to assign people any value based on their race or any other intrinsic metric. Trump truly believes everyone on the face of the planet is worthless unless they can help him out.