In modern public life, even the most prejudiced characters learn to camouflage their bigotry in order to survive in the political game.
On the contrary, one might remember the days of the late Alabama Governor and presidential candidate George Wallace. Then proponents of segregation would herald his divisiveness from the rooftops to garner votes. Until recently, one would have thought those days were from a long gone era of simple-minded paradigms. No longer can one make that assumption.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, the 45th President of the United States, Donald John Trump, galvanized millions of myopic devotees by condemning illegal Hispanic immigrants as universally culpable for society’s ills. While some contemplative voters tried to discern whether Donald Trump was innately heinous or simply speaking in an incendiary tone to galvanize the obtuse among the electorate. Or was he just verbally reckless and foolish?
Actually in his campaign announcement speech, after coming down the now famous escalator, he accused Hispanics of being rapists and drug dealers. This assail was merely the first of many indictments of minorities since Trump became a politician. His redundant slights against all but natural born Americans were malicious and frequent. Nativism and nationalism sold well.
Hence, Trump’s recent disparaging remarks this past week regarding the Republic of Haiti and countries in Africa should not come as a surprise to anyone. Further, those Trump defenders’ preposterous attempts at denying his atrocious words are simply blind advocates of someone who appears to be an indefensible bigot.
If the President of the United States is actually a bigot, then all policy decisions in the future will be tainted by his prejudice. However, the president may simply be a crude transactional huckster with a New York attitude. Then his nonchalant dismissive attitude towards people with darker skin is perhaps more tolerable. Moreover, his extemporaneous utterances may be merely an opportunistic political technique.
Whether the truth of the matter is the former or the latter is presently being debated among political pundits, politicians, and ordinary citizens.
Unfortunately, Donald Trump has a great deal of public history that might lead one to believe he is a racist. Way back in the seventies, when Donald was President of Trump Management Corporation (a real estate rental and development company), he was sued twice by the justice department for racial discrimination. While managing apartment complexes in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, New York, Trump had a policy of excluding blacks by offering different rental terms than white potential renters. Trump settled the suit.
The second time, the justice department sued the Trump Corporation Trump discriminated against Blacks by lying about the number of vacancies available. This suit was settled out as well.
In 1989, Donald Trump took out full-page ads in four major newspapers. He implored the judicial system to reach beyond the scope of statute and put the African American defendants in the Central Park Jogger Rape Case to death. As it turns out, the convicted Black men had their sentences eventually overturned. Advances in DNA detection exonerated them. Trump has repeatedly stated that they are “still all guilty.”
During the campaign, members of the hierarchy of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK, a white supremacist group) claimed their undying support for Trump’s candidacy. Both Republicans and Democrats asked Trump to disavow their support. Trump instead stated he was “the least racist person that you have ever met.” All Donald Trump would have had to do was point out the obvious – that the KKK is a reprehensible group with unforgivable values and he should have dismissed their endorsement and stated he was reviled by it. On the contrary, he remained mum.
Similarly, a Federal Judge named Gonzalo Curiel was presiding over the class-action suit against Trump University. He was verbally pelted by Trump as being unfair and stupid and biased. Trump said “he’s a Mexican” and “We are building a wall between here and Mexico. The answer is he is giving us very unfair rulings, rulings that people can’t even believe.” By the way, Judge Curiel was born in Indiana. His parents are from Mascota, Mexico.
In response to Trump admonishments of the judge, Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) said “claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment.”
According to the New Yorker Magazine, a former Trump Castle employee named Kip Brown stated “When Donald and Ivanka came to the casino, the bosses would order all black people off the floor.” Also, according to former President of Trump Plaza John O’ Donnell, he said his boss Donald said more than once “Black Casino Employees are lazy.”
In 2011, Trump repeatedly claimed to have sent a team of investigators to Hawaii to determine whether or not President Obama was actually born in the United States. As titular head of the “Birther Movement,” Trump questioned Obama’s birthplace anytime the 44th President spoke any witticisms against him. Trump stated “I don’t know where he was born.” Later on, Trump had to admit that Mr. Obama was born in our 50th State.
Black leaders such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton couched his viewpoints on Obama’s birthplace as outwardly racist.
After his inauguration, Trump signed an executive order to restrict Muslims from entering the country by excluding immigrants from overwhelmingly Islamic countries. The order was challenged in court and stayed. Trump responded “I’m doing good for the Muslims. Many Muslims friends say, ‘Donald, you brought something up to the fore that is so brilliant and so fantastic.’” Islamic Americans were up in arms all over talk radio enraged by his action. Obviously, the courts found the move unconstitutional. The order was modified greatly before it was reissued.
Recently, during a White House meeting, Trump referred to Haiti and African countries as “s***hole countries.” After a whirlwind of objections across the nation and the globe, President Trump said he was just using “tough language.” Further he said “The language used by me at the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.” Additionally, Trump said that he would prefer immigrants from countries like Norway.
The fallout from elected officials was widespread. Democrat Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said Trump’s remarks were “vile, hate-filled and clearly racial in their content” and that he used the vulgar term “more than once.”
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla) stated, “If that’s not racism, I don’t know how you can define it.”
Also, Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona said Trump’s words were “they were abhorrent and repulsive.” While Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) called the president’s remarks “beneath the dignity of the presidency,” other strident Trump defenders like Senators Perdue of Georgia and Cotton of Arkansas said in a joint statement they “do not recall the president saying these comments specifically.” Well, unless they fell asleep at the meeting the response “I see nothing, I know nothing” may have worked for Sgt. Schultz from the old TV sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, but it is hard to believe from two U.S. senators.
Trump tweeted that he did not utter these particularly reprehensible words. Several elected officials say otherwise.
With all this evidence in the public domain, a barrister could make a convincing argument that the current president is a racist. And if that argument was proven then there is no question government policies will be affected by that unhealthy bias. If the president’s words are simply crude and reckless then policies may not be affected, however the credibility of the president will still suffer greatly.
Certainly, we have had prejudice presidents in our nation’s history and the republic has endured nevertheless. Yet, when the occupant of the White House is a bigot our country is diminished by the darkness and illogic of his character. Our president is not only a chief executive – he is supposed to be a living symbol of liberty and equity. Strangely and hopefully, the eventual truth will reveal that President Trump’s attitude toward minorities is not malicious but just foolish.