Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD


Is Donald Trump Racist?

By Rob Tenery, MD on September 12, 2016

The primary strategy of the Democratic campaign committee is to demonize Donald Trump. This tactic is universal in the political process. It reached its zenith in the Lyndon Johnson/Barry Goldwater campaign in 1964, when Goldwater was portrayed as a bomb-crazy candidate with his finger on the nuclear button. Goldwater lost in a landslide. This accusation may not have been the only concern that swayed the election in Johnson’s favor, but most historians feel it made a measurable difference in the public’s perception of the two candidates. We see flashes of this strategy with the ‘finger on the nuclear button’, referring to trusting Trump with his sometimes combative approach to adversarial conditions.

The other major subject the Democrats are rolling out is that Trump is a racist. This all started when, in the beginning of his campaign, he was talking about closing the border with Mexico. Since then he has been accused of also discriminating against people of the Muslim faith and blacks.

During his announcement for President, Trump said, "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best. They're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to the border guards and they're telling us what we're getting."

Trump was wrong in his assertion that the Mexican authorities were sending ‘it’s people’ to this country illegally. Mexico is not sending anybody. The individuals Trump listed are those who choose to cross the border illegally on their own.  He is probably correct in his evaluation, since most of the illegals come out of dire situations. He was not referring the Mexican populous as a whole. His other position, that Democrats brand him racist, is his initial proposal to deport all illegal aliens back to their country of origin.

Neither of Trump's recommendations infers that he is a racist. His allegations have nothing to do with the color of the skin or their ancestry--- only their country of origin and how they entered the United States.

Trump’s other controversy arose when he questioned whether federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing a lawsuit on Trump University, could be impartial because of his Mexican Heritage. "Based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial," Trump said. Trump has elaborated on his charge by pointing to Curiel’s membership in La Raza Lawyers of San Diego, beginning in 2007, also sometimes referred to as the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association.

The Trump campaign said the Republican frontrunner wanted a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's leadership can figure out what is going on.” As backing, Trump cited a controversial six-month-old survey from the right-wing Center for Security Policy finding that one-quarter of U.S. Muslim respondents believed that violence against Americans was justified as part of global jihad.

 What Trump advocates is for ‘extreme vetting’, not because of religion alone, more a belief system of spreading terrorism across the globe. Without a more reliable ability to do background checks, this country is just setting itself up for more attacks of terrorism. In this case, Trump is acting more as realist than a racist.

The New York Times' Charles Blow wrote that black voters appear to "loathe Trump personally”. In 1973, the Trump real estate company was confronted by the U.S. Justice Department over charges of violating the Fair Housing Act. The Trump company was accused of systematically discriminating against black tenants seeking rentals in his family’s buildings. Trump counter-sued the government. By 1983, the situation had not improved, with the Times reporting that at least 95 percent of two Trump properties were populated by whites only.*

 In1989, Donald Trump took out four full-page ads in local New York City newspapers calling for the restoration of the death penalty in the state, particularly so it could be enforced on the so-called Central Park Five, a group of black and Latino teens accused of beating and raping a white female woman who had been jogging in the park that April. Years later, when the real perpetrator confessed, and the Central Park Five were exonerated. Trump no longer thinks the accused assailants deserve the death penalty because the victim of the attack didn't die.

Trump has repeatedly disavowed allegiance to the racist fringe groups, but not as emphatically as some would like. Trump said he "didn't know" former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, despite having a long record of referencing him publicly. Later, Trump blamed the gaffe on a malfunctioning earpiece and said that he doesn't want Duke's support.

Last November, following the uproar over the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester at one of his events, Trump promoted a closed-door meeting with 100 African-American pastors from around the country, implying that they intended to endorse him. However, a planned press conference featuring the black clergymen was scrapped when it was revealed that many of them sought to persuade Trump to soften his stances on hot-button issues.

Trump has since recruited his former 'Apprentice' co-star Omarosa Manigault to lead African-American outreach for his campaign, and Katrina Pierson, also African-American, is one of his most prominent surrogates on cable news. But, in the upper echelons of his campaign, there is very little diversity and few, if any, of Trump's top advisors are African-American.

To many African-Americans, Trump's insistence that President Obama was not an American citizen was considered a racist gesture. Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the President had such a poor academic record that he should never have received the Ivy League degrees he earned at Columbia and Harvard, respectively, also drew criticism.

Several weeks ago, in an address to show his concern for blacks, Trump painted a ‘bleak picture’ of the life of an average black citizen today. "You're living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?" (Meaning they should break the tradition and vote Republican)

To what Donald Trump has already been labeled, we can add legalist, since he supports following existing United States law when it comes to immigration and our border issues.  He is also a realist and a protectionist when it comes to allowing people of Muslim faith to enter this country without proper vetting. And he is also a law-and-order advocate when it comes to the strife in the black community.  So in spite of the Democrats’ inflammatory rhetoric, Trump may not always be politically correct, but there is no good case to be made for Trump being a racist!

* Adam Howard, Trump’s History Undermines New Outreach to Black Voters, Politics, August 23, 2016.





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