Sunday, July 24, 2016

Donald Trump and Racism

One of the most awful things one can do is to call a person – or label a person – a racist without carefully explaining one’s self. I think Nick Kristof shows such caution in his NY Times column about the possibility that Donald Trump is a racist.
by Charlie Leck

There’s an interesting piece in this morning’s NY Times raising the question about whether Donald Trump is a racist. The column is written by Nicholas Kristof, who worked his way through over 1,000 pages of legal documents to pick up some interesting tid-bits.

In a government law suit “the Trumps eventually settled on terms that were widely regarded as a victory for the government. Three years later the government sued the Trumps again, for continuing to discriminate.”

Kristof quite fairly points out that the above law suit was really against the Trump organization when Donald Trump’s father, Fred, ran the operation. Nevertheless, Donald Trump took clear sides against the civil rights movement of the 1970s.

And, Kristof writes...
"Another revealing moment came in 1989, when New York City was convulsed by the 'Central Park Jogger ' case, a rape and beating of a young white woman. Five black Latino teenagers were arrested.
"Trump stepped in, denounced Mayor Ed Koch's call for peace and bought full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty. The five teenagers spent years in prison before being exonerated. In retrospect they suffered a modern version of a lynching, and Trump played a part in whipping up the crowds." 
Going beyond Kristof's column, one must add here that Trump exploded with anger when the five black men were released from prison and "exonerated," as Kristof explains their release.

In an editorial in the New York Daily news, Donald Trump called he settlement a disgrace. Mr. Trump argued that the huge settlement amount wasn't necessary even if they didn't commit the crime (it was certain DNA evidence that cleared the men). He went on to write that "these young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels." 

In a February edition of The Huffington Post this year Andy Campbell wrote a story that carried this headline: “Donald Trump has been Self-Funding his Bigotry Parade Since at least 1989.” Campbell points out that Trump spent approximately 85,000 dollars on ads protesting the prisoner release in that Central Park Jogger case.

Go! Go read the Kristof column! You will be rather stunned by some of the things you’ll learn about Trumps attitudes about “blacks.” I had to calm myself a couple of times by closing my eyes and forcing myself to relax.

Kristof urges caution when judging anyone as a racist because it’s a loaded and dangerous word.

“It’s also true,” he concludes his column by saying, “that with any single statement, it is possible that Trump misspoke or was misconstrued.”

However, the columnist concludes by allowing us to keep wondering… “And yet.”
"Here we have a man who, for more than four decades, has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities, some of them made on television for all to see. White any one episode may be ambiguous, what emerges over more than four decades is a narrative arc, a consistent pattern -- and I don't see what else to call it but racism."  

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