Last summer, when Donald Trump’s comments about Mexicans and Muslims led to widespread accusations that he harbored racist attitudes, the candidate pushed back. “I am the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered,” he said.

As evidence, Trump cited an endorsement he’d received from a weekly newspaper published in Ohio by Don King, the legendary African-American boxing promoter.

“Now, Don King knows racism probably better than anybody,” Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post. “He’s not endorsing a racist, okay?”

But how would Trump persuade those who believed he was a racist that wasn’t the case? “I’m not concerned,” he replied. “Actually, I’m not concerned because I don’t think people believe it.”

From his first public controversy in the 1970s, when the federal government sued Trump and his father over discriminatory rental practices in their New York real estate empire, to the opening salvo in his 2016 presidential campaign, when he said that Mexicans entering the United States were criminals and “rapists,” Trump has regularly fanned the flames of racial controversies.

After Trump’s defiant statement Tuesday that “both sides” bore responsibility for the street battles in Charlottesville last weekend, an unusually bipartisan collection of politicians and others have called on the president to back off from remarks portraying an overtly white-supremacist rally as something benign and reasonable.

What do such comments reveal about his personal attitude toward the nation’s wrenching history of racial discord? Are Trump’s racially divisive remarks just another example of his impulsivity and propensity to be provocative, or do they represent an abiding tolerance of racist views?