But Mr. Trump is a special case. If he did use the slur, it won’t tell us anything we don’t already know.
What’s disturbing is the way the possibility of a tape has been held up — through a week packed with breaking news chyrons and cable news panels somberly weighing in on its potential impact — as a potential game changer when it comes to the national consensus about Mr. Trump’s racism. This intense attention to the story seems to reflect the misguided belief that the ultimate, objective proof of racism is a person’s use of a slur. The popularity of that belief is a reminder that a facet of white supremacy is not only to decide what race is but also what racism is — and when it does or does not exist.
I worry about those who seem to believe Mr. Trump is not really racist without the tape — and, perhaps, that the nation is not racist without Mr. Trump. I worry that people want to believe this.