Opinion: ‘Protecting White America’ – Trump’s Lie-peddling Assault on Black Men

Opinion: ‘Protecting White America’ – Trump’s Lie-peddling Assault on Black Men

Opinion - commentary -analysisLost in last week’s furor about the sexual predator tapes was Trump’s equally egregious insistence on the Central Park Five’s guilt. Trump’s fantasies of sexual assault and his race-baiting are cut from the same cloth.

 Rabbi Shai Held – Haaretz

Donald Trump’s fantasies of sexual assault have created quite a storm — as they should. It is a sad testament to how debased our politics has become that the Republican presidential nominee is a man who has gleefully boasted of kissing women against their will and grabbing them by their genitals. That a man so brutish and morally insensate is within striking distance of the White House is a sad indication of how far we have fallen.  

But lost in the furor was an equally egregious argument Trump made last week. It, too, amply demonstrates just how unfit he is to hold office.

In 1989, a 28-year-old jogger was attacked and brutally assaulted in Central Park. After two days of intense questioning, five young black and Latino men confessed to the crime. They soon retracted their confessions, which contradicted one another in any case. No DNA ever connected them to the scene, but they were nevertheless sentenced to prison terms of between five and fifteen years each.

Two weeks after the attacks, Donald Trump took out ads in four major New York newspapers calling for the death penalty to be reinstated. Although he did not mention the Central Park Five (as the young men came to be known) by name, it was clear whom he wanted the state to execute.

Years later, in 2002, a convicted rapist and murderer confessed to the crime. This time, the DNA matched. The Central Park Five were freed, and the city eventually settled a lawsuit, paying the men $41 million in compensation.

According to Donald Trump, justice has decidedly not been served.

Appearing on CNN last week, Trump declared that, “They admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that the case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”

The fact that DNA evidence showed that another man, who had confessed of his own accord, was guilty of the crime matters to Trump not a whit. Evidence be damned. In Donald Trump’s world he, and he alone, is the arbiter of guilt and innocence.

There is so much that is distressing about Trump’s remarks that it is difficult to know where to start.

In the first place, the story constitutes yet more evidence of Trump’s delusional grandiosity. The legal system has done its work; it has been widely accepted that the men were innocent — but no, Trump knows better.

Second, of course, is Trump’s cavalier indifference to the truth. As he has shown time and again over the course of his presidential campaign, he is not one to let facts get in the way. Appearing on CNN last week, Trump declared that, “They admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that the case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”

Third, Donald Trump is a man who by temperament seems unable to admit errors and misdeeds and apologize for them. Even as the roof was falling in on his campaign this past weekend, Trump could not apologize without immediately adding his assessment that former U.S.A. President Bill Clinton was worse.

Yet, as anyone with even a modicum of emotional maturity understands, when you are truly sorry for something, you don’t reflexively insist that what the other guy did was worse. You simply take responsibility and repent. Full stop.

So unpracticed is Trump in the art of taking responsibility that he does not even seem to know how to fake it; he fails even at *acting* contrite. Sure enough, during his second debate with Hillary Clinton he felt the need to explain (repeatedly) that jokes about assaulting women are simply part of locker room discourse.

Fourth, Trump’s insistence that the Central Park Five were guilty is evidence of his deep racial animus. It’s as if he just can’t imagine that these five young men, whom he no doubt sees as thugs and hoodlums, could possibly be innocent. As Jay Willis notes in GQ, “Trump can’t let the Central Park Five go, because their innocence and exoneration do not fit” into the story he has told about protecting White America from “nonexistent mobs of scary, scary brown people who are coming for you in the night.”

Pointing out the shameless hypocrisy in Trump criticizing Clinton for her use of the word “superpredator,” Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five, told Mother Jones, “She well within her right could have said, ‘Well you took out a full-page ad calling for the execution — the lynching, the death — of young black and Latino men — and you have never apologized.'” Not only has he not apologized, but as is his way, he has dug in.

Fifth — and perhaps most worryingly — Trump evidently thinks he should be able to decide when to use force, at his “pleasure,” whether it’s against women or against black men (or, as he made clear during the debate, against his political opponents). Trump’s fantasies of sexual assault and his race-baiting are thus cut from the same cloth.

GOP leaders have been up in arms about Trump’s brutal and degrading talk about women. But there has been a deafening silence around his racist attack on these men, who have surely suffered enough for a crime they did not commit.

Donald Trump and his enablers and apologists have a lot to apologize for, and many people to apologize to. They have brought this country low in ways I fear we do not yet begin to understand.

Donald Trump’s grandiosity and dishonesty; his inability to imagine, let alone admit, that he was mistaken; and his wide-ranging and well-documented bigotry render him utterly unfit for public office (and polite company). He and his candidacy are a disgrace to this great nation of the United States of America.

Rabbi Shai Held is co-founder and dean at Mechon Hadar, and previously served as scholar-in-residence at Kehilat Hadar in New York City. He is the author of Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence and the forthcoming The Heart of Torah

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Comments

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 15, 2016 at 7:17 am

    What did Reverend Martin Niemöller, [1892–1984] say?

    Something about …..

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then he came for the Mexicans; then the Muslims; then the Physically Challenged; then the Prisoners of War; then Women …

    Now, he is coming for me — and I am publicly thanking Rabbi Shai Held for speaking for me.

    If you listened to the veterans of the Great War and World War 2 – they said,

    “Do NOT be a bystander!”

  • Gigi  On October 15, 2016 at 11:04 am

    But, but, but, Matias Reyes, the actual rapist, IS black/part black. So Trump was not off.

    Rabbi Shai Held, maybe these words spoken by a famous Black Panther leader to Black women should clue you in as to why White people (and Indian Guyanese) feel the way they do about Blacks.

    “You have to let us practice rape on you so that we can perfect it on white women.” – Black Panther leader to women at a Black Panther rally.

    Perhaps this explains why Black women do not see anything wrong with the way they are treated by their menfolks. As a result, they do not see them as “super predators”. The conflict arises when their actions become normalized and acceptable and creeps its way into mainstream society as the cultures come into closer contact and the actions of the one group is penalized for being obscene and degrading.

    • Thinker  On October 17, 2016 at 12:43 am

      It has to be mentioned again and again that Gigi is an outright liar. Since hardly anyone fact checks her wildest statements, some readers will actually believe the lies. What Black Panther leader, what audience, where? Which black women anywhere would accept such a preposterous statement? Does she also want to talk about the rape culture in India and offer an analysis?

    • Thinker  On October 17, 2016 at 12:52 am

      Is no one going to comment on the infantile logic Gigi is offering? Are you all allowing yourselves to be dumbed down on this forum? Trump was right because the Puerto Rican Reyes is part black!!!! What absolute idiocy is being tolerated on Guyanese Online by participants!!!

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 15, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    This is what Rabbi Shai Held wrote:

    Donald Trump is a man who by temperament seems unable to admit errors and misdeeds and apologize for them. Even as the roof was falling in on his campaign this past weekend, Trump could not apologize without immediately adding his assessment that former U.S.A. President Bill Clinton was worse.

    Yet, as anyone with even a modicum of emotional maturity understands, when you are truly sorry for something, you don’t reflexively insist that what the other guy did was worse. You simply take responsibility and repent. Full stop.

    And, what did Reverend Martin Niemöller, [1892–1984] say? …..

    Well, Nate Silver wrote the following in his forecast:

    Many political operatives and campaign reporters believe that there’s more damaging information about Trump that has yet to be made public.

    While sometimes those guesses can turn out to be wrong, Trump has lived in the public spotlight for decades, leaving a long paper and video trail, and crossing paths — and swords — with many people along the way.

    Therefore, the probability of additional leaks is high, so Trump is likely to be off-balance for the run in the last stretch of the campaign.

    Nate also wrote that In the past, Trump has shown a tendency to extend news cycles by refusing to admit wrongdoing and attacking his accusers, even when faced with accusations far less serious than about the women. We’re already starting to see Trump repeat that pattern here.

    ….. not much more to add!!

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 15, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Michelle Obama has Dragged This USA Elections Out of the Gutter
    Anne Perkins – The Guardian UK

    Michelle Obama may have done the seemingly impossible. She may just have rescued the USA elections from the grotesque and demeaning mire into which they have descended. She did something even more remarkable, and just as badly needed. With the touch of a poet, her speech last night, shamed the tat and the tawdry of populism and held out the possibility of something better. She lent her extraordinary ability to say what people are feeling to every English-speaking woman in the world.

    Nominally, she spoke for Hillary Clinton at a run-of-the-mill political rally. In fact she made a passionate and clear-eyed appeal for decency and respect in public life. Clinton’s Republican rival Donald Trump did not get a single mention, but he was in every word of every sentence. It was one of the most sustained put-downs in modern democratic politics.

    There have been many protests this week as Trump’s lewd bragging about sexually assaulting women finally registered in the Republican scale of shame.

    His campaign is floundering, at last. Obama’s contribution was not to add to the direct attacks on him. Instead, on behalf of American voters – women and girls, of course, but men and boys too – she gave a victim’s statement.

    The Trump tape, she said, had shaken her to her core.

    “I feel it so personally – and I’m sure you do too – particularly the women.”
    (I love that “particularly”).

    “The shameful comments about our bodies.”

    “The disrespect of our ambitions and our intellect.”

    “The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman.”

    “It’s cruel – it’s frightening – and the truth is it hurts.”

    This hits home in a way that a direct attack on the insolent, impervious figure of Trump himself does not. It appeals to people of every political persuasion. She pitches this attack as defence – A defence of humanity.

    She brings to it her extraordinary mix of talents. She can find words that make pictures. She brings passion and intellectual clarity. She has an actor’s sense of timing. This morning she seems the world’s most complete leader.

    On Monday, in the second debate between the presidential candidates, Clinton quoted Obama: “When they go low, we go high.” Great advice – a nightmare to follow. The first lady has found a way of doing it that avoids the elephant traps and the little snares.

    She has a graceful humanity. She looks normal. Glamorous, but in a normal kind of way. She sounds like a normal person, she uses the language of normal people and she expresses normal hopes and fears. As a wife and a mother, an American, a black woman – all these parts that make her who she is – she has a fine capacity to say what millions of women and men have been thinking since the Trump tape first came to light last weekend.

    It was hardly a surprise to hear her speak so well. Her speech introducing Clinton as the Democrat nominee to the party’s convention in July revealed the exceptional talent that she has been nurturing over these past eight years.

    That was the speech where she reminded her listeners what could be done by collective effort. She talked of the “lash of bondage” and the “sting of servitude” and then described waking up every morning in the White House, “a house built by slaves” and watching her daughters, “two beautiful intelligent young black women” playing with their dogs: “and because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters, and all our sons and daughters, take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States”.

    Last night she talked of women doing what women have always done “just trying to get through it … trying to pretend this doesn’t really bother us”.

    She ended: “This is not normal, this is not politics as usual … this has got to stop right now.”

    When she speaks, Michelle Obama doesn’t stop being the wife of the president, but she transcends it. She becomes the personification of the best of her country.

    Perhaps there is something in the first lady status, in politics but not of it, that uniquely privileges the holder of the office. Who in Britain can make that nonpartisan appeal to ordinary human decency?

    Last night, Michelle Obama spoke for everyone who thinks politics can be better than this.

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 15, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    On Monday, in the second debate between the presidential candidates, Clinton quoted Obama: “When they go LOW, we go HIGH.” Great advice – a nightmare to follow. The first lady has found a way of doing it that avoids the elephant traps and the little snares.

    • Tata  On October 19, 2016 at 8:44 pm

      Also Clyde, in Michelle Obama’s 2008 campaign for her husband, she admonished the crowd against voting for Hillary by telling them “if she can’t run her own house, then how can she run the White House”.

      • Thinker  On October 20, 2016 at 5:29 am

        Let me state clearly that this statement from Michelle referring to Hillary is a low blow. It wrongly implies that a wife is responsible for a husband’s infidelity. Blaming the victim is ridiculous and harks back to an era of expressed gender inequality based on patriachy.

      • Thinker  On October 21, 2016 at 10:18 pm

        My profoundest apologies to Michelle Obama. She was not talking about Hillary in that “quote”. She was referring to her own family responsibilities. I should have known better.

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 15, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Huffington Post – Republican Legislative War Against Women:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/republican-war-against-women/

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 17, 2016 at 1:35 am

    Thinker: I appreciate you stepping up and speaking out – I honestly would rather ignore dat fool, gigi

    …. – as they say, if I engage her, passers-by [readers] may not tell the difference.

    Don’t wrestle with swine – it gets dirty – and swine love it!!

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 17, 2016 at 1:49 am

    It should not be a surprise to anyone – anywhere in the world – that gangs and

    gang members are usually involved in criminal misconduct ….. including rape.

  • Albert  On October 17, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Thinker@”It has to be mentioned again and again that Gigi is an outright liar.”

    Gigi has pass the stage of being a liar. The woman has a psychiatric issue that she needs to address. Don’t understand how you fellows let her get under your skin. There are thousands like her in America. Do you think you can change them. She reveals her problem in pieces every time she write on some topics. She had a dramatic experience in Guyana years back which she cannot overcome. I personally feel sorry for her…. a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
    What I have in mind would need to be said to her ….one on one. It would sound offensive on this open board

    • Thinker  On October 18, 2016 at 6:03 am

      Both Hitler and Trump know that constantly repeating a big lie will have many people believing. I just don’t believe that we should allow Gigi to get away with the big ones. She would have soon have uninformed people quoting her. Look at the development of trump Birtherism. He is now saying that the US elections will be rigged and has a lot of people supporting his nonsense.

      Gigi’s personal problem is that her mother nearly got raped. Many others have no doubt had more traumatic experiences and haven’t gone half as crazy.

  • Clyde Duncan  On October 18, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Thinker: You are absolutely right about repeating a lie – the Nazis and the backra-man, in general, adopted that modus operandi quite successfully over the centuries – but, that brings to mind another saying – “consider the source” – No need to say more, EXCEPT …

    Another saying our current and exceptional President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama relayed to us was his Grandma always said “Let them babble – Let them display their ignorance!” … or something like dat.

  • Tata  On October 19, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Hey! Hey! Hey! Rabbi, with all due respect, racism is the HALLMARK of the American culture. So, don’t pee on my legs and tell me it’s raining because all this uproar about Trump and racism is a political campaign to discredit his eligibility for the job of President. And, for all you ANGRY people who only listen to NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC and all the other major news agencies out there, then you are not able to process ALL the information coming out about this disturbing campaign.
    Also, who are you to judge this man when the GUYANESE culture is reeked of RACISM, SEXISM and BARBARIC abuse against women. Everyday, the disturbing news of women and young girls being raped and murdered for no reason is very disturbing. So! Use this climate of heated rhetoric to change the abusive culture that is a way of life for many around the world.

  • Thinker  On October 19, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    @Tata. If you have additional info to use to defend Trump which we poor unread and unwashed readers do not have, please go ahead and mention your sources. You are also implying that any and all Guyanese do not have a right to comment on Trump because Guyana has its own racial and crime issues. That is arrant nonsense. You are also implying that of necessity none of us want to change the culture to have a more respectful, equitabe society either in Guyana or elsewhere There is no basis for your presumption. ..

  • Tata  On October 19, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Hey! Hey! Hey! All News must be fair and balance for me to respect such. However, what we have leading up to this election is slanted, convuluted and border on insanity. Yes Thinker, I am a woman, who unlike those women who claimed to be victims of Trump and Bill Clinton, I am not intimidated by you or any MAN of influence. So keep your composure and manage your blood pressure because I think the insanity here is far too explosive and out of control.

    And YES, there is basis for my presumption and assumption on the crap that has permeated this blog space. As a matter of fact, Gigi is not someone I want to represent or agree with on this blog at any time ever, however, YOU have “crossed the line” by insinuating that the trauma of her mother near rape, is the reason she is crazy. Also, to equate that experience as minor in comparison to what others have gone through? Shame on you Thinker. And….here you are blasting Donald Trump for his woes against women. ”

    You know, this is exactly why I mentioned GUYANA earlier because this is the same dismissive behavior of “most” Guyanese men towards a woman in crisis.

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave”

  • Thinker  On October 19, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Give your sources for us to have a more balanced opinion of Trump. You are now being somewhat dishonest in implying that I was dismissive of Gigi’s mother’s trauma. No. I empathize with her. It is Gigi’s reaction to the event of blinding all-pervasive racial hate which is ridiculous and demented. Gigi has never indicated that she was present as a child during the attempt so it is not as if we are discussing a case of PTSD.

  • Tata  On October 20, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Hey! Hey! Hey! Go back and review your blog and stop tripping about my source of information. For the record, people who attain higher education, gather their facts only from reliable sources; not those instantiated web sites with damaging viruses.

    • Thinker  On October 20, 2016 at 4:16 am

      Just bluster with no content. Give us your reliable sources based on your higher education..

  • Tata  On October 20, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Thinker, I paid and is still paying for my higher education. So, don’t worry about CONTENT. As a matter of fact, your concern should not be about me but your lack of empathy of others.

    • Thinker  On October 20, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      Strange that in all this you never think of condemning Gigi’s racism. Just saying that you don’t speak for her doesn’t cut it. Content matters. Ask your teachers.

  • Thinker  On October 21, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    The lie about Michelle dissing Hillary is Hitlerian in its scope. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/oct/11/donald-trump/donald-trump-base-claim-about-michelle-obama-criti/

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