No More Benefits of the Doubt on Trump's Racism
Since the day Donald Trump entered the presidential race with a declaration that the Mexican government was dumping their country's rapists across our southern border, people have been determined to brand the candidate as a racist.
Trump wants to build a wall? Racist!
Trump wants to deport illegal immigrants? Racist!
Most people haven't bought into the narrative, especially conservatives. Having been deemed racists themselves by the American Left for having the gall to voice opposition to President Obama and his policies over the past eight years, conservatives just don't have much tolerance for players of the race card. Nor should they.
Regardless, Trump has kept those players pretty busy over the past year. He's demonstrated an amazing knack for putting forth careless and clumsy rhetoric on racially sensitive topics, and then laying the burden on his loyal supporters to explain what he really meant. And for the most part, they've been able to do it.
Though Trump's vitriol is often hard to listen to, it has not been what most fair-minded individuals would typically consider racism. Instead, it's fallen more into the Michael Scott (or Joe Biden) category of unwitting racial condescension, which is actually far more prevalent in liberal circles.
For example, tweeting a photo of oneself eating Mexican food with the caption "I love Hispanics!" (as Trump did) may be ridiculous, but it's not an identifiably racist act. Neither is his habit of referring to racial groups as monoliths, like when he says he has a "great relationship with the blacks."
Some people will certainly disagree with me on this, and think I've been too charitable to Trump in this area. I suppose that's possible, but to me, these instances haven't reflected a sense of racial superiority that would compel me to throw in with the "Trump is a racist" crowd (as satirized by Larry David on Saturday Night Live a few months back).
The stronger case, in my view, came back in February when Trump declined to reject the support of white supremacist groups. Trump clearly didn't defend the groups or infer any support for their views, but he did (at least temporarily) decide that he didn't want to turn away their votes in the South Carolina primary.
It was certainly an act of cowardice, and an indirect (and particularly ugly) form of racial pandering. But was it racist? Not exactly. You can't hold someone responsible for the views of some of their fans.
I've made it clear that I have big problems with several things Donald Trump has said throughout this campaign, but I'd always given him the benefit of the doubt when it came to these racial controversies that kept popping up around him. I can't read what's in the man's soul. I can only go by what he's says and does. And from what I'd heard him say up until very recently, I believed the charges of racism to be unfair.
Then, Trump started taking shots at Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over two Trump University lawsuits. Trump hasn't liked some of the Curiel's rulings in the case, and he hasn't been shy in voicing that discontent. Instead of targeting his criticism on Curiel's decision-making prowess, however, he has decided to present the judge's ethnicity as the real problem.
You see, according to Trump, Curiel has "an inherent conflict of interest" which prevents him from being fair to Trump in a court of law. What's the conflict? Curiel is of Mexican heritage (his parents are from Mexico).
I know...it's confusing. So let me try and explain: Trump believes that because his presidential campaign platform includes building a wall along our country's southern border, an American judge (Curiel was born in Indiana) with Mexican blood running through his body simply can't treat Trump impartially, and thus must recuse himself.
The accusation is ridiculous, insulting, and yes...undeniably racist.
To prop up Trump's argument, the presumptive presidential nominee and his supporters have attempted to associate Judge Curiel with La Raza, a national activist organization known for its the radical leftism and pro-illegal-immigration stance. The problem is that Curiel is not a member of the organization. He is instead a member of "La Raza Lawyers of California," a local networking group for Latino attorneys. It has no affiliation with the activist group, other than a similar-sounding name and a link on its website, but the false narrative continues to be pushed.
CNN's Jack Tapper pressed Trump on his allegations toward Curiel in an interview on Friday. Below is a transcribed excerpt:
Tapper: "If you are saying he [Curiel] can't do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?"
Trump: "No. I don't think so at all."
Trump: "No. He's proud of his heritage. I respect him for that."
Tapper: "You're saying he can't do his job because of that."
Trump: "Look. He's proud of his heritage, okay? I'm building a wall. I think I'm going to do very well with Hispanics."
Tapper: "He's a legal citizen."
Trump: "You know why I'm going to do well with Hispanics? It's because I'm going to bring back jobs, and they're going to get jobs right now. They're going to get jobs. I think I'm going to do very well with Hispanics, but we're building a wall. He's Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico."
So to recap, Trump has no actual knowledge of what Curiel's personal views on a border wall are, but because he has Mexican ancestry, Curiel must be:
A) opposed to it. B) unable to do his job fairly because of that opposition.
I'm sorry, Trump fans, but saying that one's race disqualifies them from being able to perform a duty is overt racism. And before you point out that "Mexican" isn't a race, I'll remind you that Curiel isn't a Mexican (despite Trump's claims). He's a Hispanic American.
Under Trump's bigoted logic, a judge of Chinese ancestry also couldn't be fair to Trump, because of Trump's tough talk on China. Neither could a judge of Iranian decent, because Trump says he'll rescind our country's nuclear deal with Iran. A judge of Cuban decent? Sorry, that wouldn't work either. Remember all of those nasty things Trump said about "Lyin' Ted" and "Little Marco"?
Yes, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is spewing racism, and those inclined to defend it should be ashamed of themselves.
Perhaps the best thing about dropping my Republican affiliation last month is that I no longer have to share in the embarrassment routinely brought on by the GOP's new leader. But I still can't help but feel bad for the good people who've remained in the party, only to watch the ugly liberal caricatures of their brand be transformed into a reality. It's an unenviable position to be in, and they have my sympathy.