Trump’s recent exchange with reporter April Ryan at last Thursday’s press conference has generated a ton of criticism.
Criticism that has been far too kind.
I saw Trump’s presser referred to as a “scream of consciousness.” I agree, but the presser included a scream of something else: racism.
In American politics these days, the unofficial rule is that as long as a politician doesn’t go so far as to use the “N” word, the press won’t use the “R” word. I will: Donald Trump is a flat-out, screaming racist. Racism is the only explanation for his exchange with reporter Ryan, his past birtherism, and countless other remarks. I remember an interview years ago in which he spoke of his “great relationship” with “the Blacks.” The Blacks? Really? Does Trump believe that all Black Americans think and feel the same way, or that they sit around a 40 million-person dinner table to discuss whom they like and don’t like?
Trump’s exchange with Ryan made his past statements look tame. For those who did not see clips of it, Ryan asked Trump if he intended to include the CBC is discussions about his agenda for addressing urban policy. When Trump appeared not to know what the CBC was, Ryan asked: “Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus…” Trump’s response: “Well, I would. Tell you what, do you want to set up a meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours? Set up a meeting.”
On so many levels, those questions are offensive, insulting and racist, especially taking into account Trump’s tone, which reeked of disrespect. Would he make the same request of a White reporter? Would he make the same request if the Congressional reps were White? Would he surmise that White Congressional reps were friends of a White reporter simply because of their common skin color?
Trump knows he does not need a go-between to set up a meeting, especially one with members of Congress. That meeting, by the way, already had been requested by the Congressional Black Caucus. Why, then, did he make the request of Ryan in the first place?
When Trump made his request to reporter Ryan based on the supposition members of the CBC were “friends” of hers, what was he really saying? On that front, the first three words in Trump’s response to Ryan, “Well, I would,” have received little attention yet are so telling. Ryan’s question was a yes or no question. Trump is in the process of developing an agenda for addressing urban policy. He has purported to make it a priority. But when asked whether he intended to included the group of Congressional reps whose electorate would be most impacted by Trump’s urban agenda, he did not reflexively answer “yes.”
Reflect on that for a moment. If Trump were engaged in discussions regarding his policy on Israel-Palestine, and were asked if he was seeking input from Jewish leaders, would he respond by saying he would meet with those Jewish leaders if the reporter would set up the meeting? Would he ask the reporter if the Jewish leaders were friends of the reporter? Of course not. But, when it comes to his urban policy agenda, the input of Black leaders who most represent the population of America’s urban centers, Trump “would” be willing to meet with them if a reporter took the initiative to arrange the meeting. How big of him.
Ironically, Trump’s response to Ryan followed a gratuitous statement in response to a prior question (from a different reporter) that he was the “least racist person.” I’m guessing he believes he can prove that by providing a list of all the “Black friends” he has.
Collectively, Trump’s statements scream of racism, with or without N word use. Actually, there are reports of out takes from the Apprentice in which he was recorded using the N word. There is pressure to have those released. But why should we even care? If Trump did not use the N word in those out takes, he’s nevertheless shown himself to be a racist through other public statements. If he did use the N word, it merely would confirm something we already know. Either way, nothing changes.
My prediction: We’ve not seen the worst of Trump’s inner-racist. He has neither the self-awareness nor the self-control to conceal it. If he does well, he’ll resist the urge to use the N word publicly. But in the end that won’t be enough. Sooner or later, his racist mind will develop a thought that reveals his true feelings for all to see, and that weak filter between his mind and his mouth won’t keep it out of the public sphere.