* This piece was posted on November 29, 2019.
The Media’s Relentless Assault on Trump
If you hate Donald Trump, it is really quite understandable. The print, electronic, and broadcast media have worked with relentless passion and purpose to remind you, as frequently as possible, of the many objectionable statements and damnable positions that allegedly are part-and-parcel of Mr. Trump’s political track record.
When the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy analyzed how The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the newscasts of CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC had covered President Trump during his first 100 days in office, it found that their coverage was 80% negative and 20% positive. The corresponding figures for the first 100 days of the three previous presidencies were in a completely different universe: Barack Obama, 41% negative vs. 59% positive; George W. Bush, 57% negative vs. 43% positive; and Bill Clinton, 60% negative vs. 40% positive.
For data collected over longer time periods, we can turn to the Virginia-based Media Research Center (MRC), which has conducted numerous comprehensive analyses of exactly how the press has covered Trump from the time of his 2016 presidential campaign to the present day. Most notably, MRC has examined how often the three major television networks—ABC, NBC, and CBS—have aired stories portraying Trump and/or his policies in either a positive or negative light. These MRC studies tally “evaluative statements which impar[t] a clear positive or negative tone to the story, such as statements from experts presented as non-partisan, voters, or opinionated statements from the networks’ own reporters.” Neutral statements are not factored into the equation; nor are soundbites from openly partisan political operatives or spokespeople who merely parrot a predictable party line. As a result of MRC’s research, we know precisely the ratio of negative-to-positive news reports that have been devoted to President Trump.
During the three-plus months between late July 2016 and Election Day in early November of that year, the ABC, NBC, and CBS evening newscasts included 726 negative statements about Trump, vs. 95 positive statements—a ratio of 88% negative to 12% positive. And Trump hadn’t even been elected yet.
Things really heated up during Trump’s first calendar year in office—from his January 20, 2017 inauguration through December 31, 2017—when the three network evening newscasts devoted an astounding total of 99 hours and 3 minutes of airtime to 3,430 stories focusing either on President Trump or his administration. Most of these were stories designed to shred the president and his reputation. As MRC reported: “Our analysts catalogued 5,883 evaluative statements about the President or his administration from either reporters, anchors or non-partisan sources such as experts or voters. Only about 10% of those comments (617) were positive, compared with 5,266 (90%) which were negative — an unparalleled level of media hostility for a President in his first year in office.”
2018 brought more of the same, as the three evening network newscasts devoted almost 87 hours of coverage to the Trump presidency. The tone of that coverage, said MRC, remained “incessantly hostile: 90% negative, vs. just 10% positive.”
And 2019 has been no different. As Brent Bozell of MRC wrote this past June: “Month after month going back to the start of his campaign, without interruption, [Trump’s] coverage on evening newscasts has hovered around 90% negative.” During the seven-week period from the September 24th launch of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry through November 12th, the coverage of Trump was even more hostile than normal: Out of 684 evaluative comments that were made on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, reports NewsBusters.org, 96% were negative and 4% were positive. In other words, the average American viewer virtually never heard even a single positive whisper about President Trump or his policies. Never.
Remember When Trump Mocked the Disabled New York Times Reporter?
One of the earliest flurries of condemnation that media outlets nationwide aimed at Donald Trump occurred in November of 2015—a full year prior to the 2016 presidential election—when myriad headlines and news stories reported that then-candidate Trump, during a political rally in South Carolina, had callously mocked the disability of a physically handicapped New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski. You can probably recall hearing about how Trump, in front of a large crowd of supporters, had waved his arms and hands spasmodically to mimic the herky-jerky movements of the reporter, while also adopting a vocal cadence that suggested incoherence and abnormality.
The Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and Politico all ran headlines stating, “Trump Mocks Disabled Reporter.” A Chicago Tribune caption blared: “Trump Mocks New York Times Reporter with Disability.” And a New York Times headline called it “Mockery, Plain and Simple.” Similar headlines were splashed across the front pages of countless other publications from coast to coast.
Not surprisingly, a large number of congressional Democrats joined the news media in eviscerating Trump for his bad manners and childish intemperance. Some examples:
- At the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Bill Clinton proudly noted that his wife “never made fun of people with disabilities,” but instead “tried to empower them based on their ability.”
- Former Democrat Senator Tom Harkin righteously pronounced that “Democrats believe in working together and bringing people with disabilities in to develop policy,” while Trump was little more than an obnoxious “throwback” to the unenlightened mores of “half a century ago.”
- During the third presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton, Mrs. Clinton scolded her opponent for having so crudely “mocked and mimicked” a “disabled reporter” on “national television.”
- And Rep. Maxine Waters, marking the 27th anniversary of the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act, said in July 2017: “Our president indicated to us what he thinks about people with disabilities long before he was elected, when he mocked a disabled reporter. Mocking the disabled is rude and insensitive and it sends a terrible message to our children.”
Hollywood, too, was filled with people outraged by Trump’s indelicacies.
- During remarks she delivered at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony in January 2017, actress Meryl Streep shed tears as she recalled how “stunned” she had felt “when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter.” “[T]his instinct to humiliate,” she elaborated, “when it’s modeled … by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.”
- Some time later, actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and is well acquainted with the distress associated with involuntary body convulsions, said: “One thing that angered me is when [Trump] mocked that reporter. That was a stab to the guts. Not just for me, but for people I know and work with, who try so hard to overcome other people’s atavistic aversion to anybody that moves differently. So I thought, Do I say something in response? Then I thought, people already know Trump is an [expletive].”
The Clintons, Harkin, Waters, Streep, and Fox had plenty of company in the revulsion they felt regarding Trump’s insensitive antics. In a Bloomberg News poll taken just a few weeks before the 2016 election, likely voters who were asked to identify what bothered them most about Mr. Trump, cited his mockery of the disabled reporter more often than anything else.
There’s just one stubborn little fact, however, which probably merits at least a passing mention at this point: Not a single word regarding Trump’s mockery of a reporter’s physical disability, was true. Not a syllable. Not a breath. The entire story was a carefully and maliciously fabricated lie. Not an exaggeration. Not a distortion. A Lie, with a capital “L.”
You see, Serge Kovaleski, the disabled reporter in question, does not suffer from Parkinson’s Disease or anything even remotely resembling it. He suffers from arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that limits the movement of his joints and has caused his right hand to be permanently frozen in place, sharply angled at the wrist. He does not wave either of his arms around involuntarily when he talks. Quite the opposite: his right arm is actually rigid and motionless. Moreover, he speaks with a perfectly normal cadence, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to Trump’s presentation.
Trump was not mocking Kovaleski for his disability. He was mocking Kovaleski for appearing to back away, for fear of public criticism, from something which he had reported some years earlier. The gestures and cadence that Trump’s critics objected to, are simply Trump’s way of mimicking anyone who seems to be flustered or fearful when confronted with certain discomfiting facts. Indeed, with just a little bit of research, anyone who actually had an interest in knowing the truth could have learned that Trump, on a number of other occasions, had used those same gestures and affectations to mock people who were not physically handicapped in any way. Those targets included, among others, Republican Senator Ted Cruz, Democrat consultant Donna Brazile, Obama-era military generals, and certain American bank executives. In fact, there is even video footage of Trump mocking himself in a similar, self-deprecating manner.
Trump the “Racist”
The certitude with which Trump’s critics have falsely and slanderously condemned the president for making fun of Kovaleski’s handicap, calls to mind a trenchant observation that the late Ronald Reagan once made: “The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.” And this, of course, begs an important question: Might some other articles-of-faith regarding Trump’s alleged character flaws be untrue as well?
It is almost impossible to watch a major television network news broadcast, or read a major newspaper, or even view a late-night comedy program on TV, without hearing or seeing something about what a crooked, incompetent, scheming, deranged, misogynistic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, sociopathic, fascistic, ignorant racist Mr. Trump is. These media portrayals of Trump are very much in line with how Hillary Clinton famously described Trump’s backers in a speech at a September 2016 political fundraiser in New York City, where she said: “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he [Trump] has lifted them up.”
It would not be possible, of course, to unpack and evaluate all of the countless thousands of charges accusing Trump of various moral deficiencies like those enumerated by Mrs. Clinton. Thus, let us restrict our focus, for now, to the most noteworthy charges of “racism” that have been leveled at the president. What we learn about the veracity—or inveracity—of those particular charges, will teach us a great deal about how much, or how little, credence we should give to the other accusations. Below are just a few examples of Trump’s critics characterizing him as a racist:
- NAACP president Derrick Johnson claims that “President Trump’s racism” has “divided the nation and polluted policy.”
- Actor Robert De Niro describes Trump as “a flat-out blatant racist.”
- Film producer Joss Whedon laments that “we have a racist, fascist president” in the White House.
- Former New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston says: “Donald Trump … isn’t just a white supremacist – he’s a flat-out, full racist.”
- Political analyst Anand Giridharadas contends that “we have a man child who is deranged and racist in this [presidential] office.”
- Actor/film director Rob Reiner once tweeted: “Every day between now and Election Day in Nov. of 2020, you have only to keep reminding yourself that the President of the United States is a Racist, a Liar, a Sexual Predator and a Criminal.”
- Hollywood director Judd Apatow has denounced the president’s “racist views” and declared: “Trump is a Nazi. The debate is over.”
- When asked if President Trump is a white nationalist, New York Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “He is. And all you have to do is listen to his words to make that decision…. He has used racist language and racist dog whistles on behalf of the presidency. He [says] Mexicans are rapists.”
- Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders flatly states: “We have a president who is, in fact, a racist and a bigot.”
- Democrat congressman Filemon Vela once told Trump in an open letter: “Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass.”
- Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson said on ABC’s The View: “We got a guy [Donald Trump] who gets up every morning and excretes the feces of his moral depravity into a nation he has turned into a psychic commode. That’s what he’s done. And he’s a bigot-in-chief and a racist in residence…. Look at this mendacious, relentlessly lying, bigoted, ill-informed person that we have. He has the fleshly thesaurus of white supremacy reduced to one body.”
Trump and the Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville
To “prove” their assertion that Mr. Trump is a racist, the president’s accusers are invariably armed with a lengthy list of supposedly bigoted remarks which he has made. To help the American public focus on the most highly objectionable of those remarks, New York Times writers David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick have published a significant article—which they update periodically—titled “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List.”
Not surprisingly, this Times piece cites, among many other things, the allegedly racist remarks that Trump made in the aftermath of the infamous August 12, 2017 “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In terms of laying bare the modus operandi by which Trump has routinely been painted as a racist, Charlottesville is the Rosetta Stone.
First, a bit of context: The Charlottesville event was originally organized for the very explicit purpose of protesting the proposed removal, from a local park, of an equestrian statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. According to various reports, the protesters were composed of two very distinct and dissimilar contingents of people: (a) aggressive and hateful white supremacists with neo-Nazi sympathies, and (b) others who had no racial or anti-Semitic animus and simply wished to voice their disapproval regarding the Lee statue’s removal. The former contingent was personified by the members of a group called Identity Evropa, who chanted white nationalist slogans like “You will not replace us.” The latter contingent consisted of people like Michelle Piercy, a Kansas resident who made the long drive to Charlottesville with a conservative group that was in favor of leaving the Lee statue in place. As a New York Times piece noted, Ms. Piercy made it clear that she and her companions “had no interest in standing with Nazis or white supremacists.” It is difficult to ascertain with any precision the relative numbers of people in each contingent.
Meanwhile, a large group of counter-protesters likewise included two very distinct and dissimilar contingents: (a) those who supported the statue’s removal and wished to make their feelings known in a nonviolent public forum, and (b) hundreds of people who were affiliated with Antifa, a revolutionary Marxist/anarchist militia movement.
Some background information about Antifa is necessary at this point.
- Bearing a name that is a shortened form of the term “antifacist,” Antifa believes that anyone with a non-leftist political orientation is the veritable equivalent of a “fascist” or “Nazi” who deserves to be physically assaulted—hence the popular Antifa meme, “Punch a Nazi.” The movement’s adherents typically wear black clothing and black masks when they demonstrate or riot, and they can sometimes be seen wavingthe red-and-black flag of anarcho-communism. They reject not only the capitalist economic system, but the institution of government itself. And they explicitly advocate the use of violence to raze America’s existing society to the ground. As a September 2017 report in Atlantic magazine notes, Antifa has been responsible for “a level of sustained political street warfare not seen in the U.S. since the 1960s.”
- Because Antifa rejects the legitimacy of America’s very existence, the movement likewise contends, by logical extension, that the people who are entrusted with protecting and preserving the nation’s civil society are illegitimate as well. Thus, org, which serves as a newsblogfor Antifa, firmly instructs Antifa activists to “build a culture of non-cooperation with law enforcement.” In June 2017, that same website exhorted its readers and followers to make the United States “ungovernable” by engaging in “mass insurrection,” “mass resistance,” and “all manner of physical violence” against supporters of President Trump, capitalists, and “conservative fascists.” Moreover, ItsGoingDown.org featured propaganda images of brutal attacks against individuals in hats bearing the Trump campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Such violence, said various articles on the website, was a “necessary evil” in the battle to crush “fascism.”
On the morning of Saturday, August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, the most radical and combustible elements on both sides of the Lee statue debate began to engage in violence against one another. By noon—at which time the rally was scheduled to begin—both the City of Charlottesville and the Governor of Virginia had declared a state of emergency due to the “imminent threat” of potential injuries and property destruction, and police cleared the scene of all persons. Then, at about 1:40 p.m., a deranged white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters who were still in the vicinity, killing one white woman and injuring numerous other people. President Trump issued a brief statement later that same day, followed by additional remarks over the course of the ensuing three days. Those remarks sent the Left into a frenzy of vitriolic outrage. Just a few examples:
- The Washington Post complained: “Trump didn’t call out white supremacists.”
- MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace stated that the president, with his words, had “given safe harbor to Nazis, to white supremacists.”
- The New York Times ran a headline: “Trump Gives White Supremacists Unequivocal Boost.”
- A GQ magazine headline declared: “White Supremacists Love How Donald Trump Handled Charlottesville.”
What, exactly, did President Trump say to elicit such responses? Did he in fact voice sympathy or support for neo-Nazis and racists? Let’s examine the evidence, piece by piece.
Just hours after the deadly violence of August 12, Trump issued a short statement saying: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides—on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”
The following day—August 13—a White House spokesperson issued a follow-up statement: “The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred, and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”
The day after that—August 14—President Trump made a televised statement in which he said:
“No matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God. We must love each other, show affection for each other, and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry, and violence. We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans.
“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans…. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.”
Hmmm…. So where, exactly, was the “racism” to which the aforementioned news sources were objecting? Don’t feel too badly if you missed it. Because in order to have seen it, you’d have to really have wanted to see it, even if you had to twist the meaning of Trump’s words inside-out in the process. What the critics found most objectionable was that Trump, by using the phrase “on many sides” on August 12, had chosen not to restrict his condemnation solely to the detestable white supremacists in Charlottesville, but had also placed some blame at the feet of the equally detestable Marxist/anarchist Antifa counter-protesters.
And that, to Trump’s critics, was unacceptable. As CNN anchor Don Lemon put it: “There is a difference between the two groups: one is a Nazi supremacist group. What they want to do and in their hearts is extinguish … Jewish people, black people, even women…. The other [Antifa] is a protest group protesting a political and a racist movement. I’m not saying that group [Antifa], all of their tactics were right, but they were there protesting hate in America.” In other words, even though Antifa is firmly, candidly, and proudly committed to the use of violence to promote Marxism and anarchism across the United States, Mr. Lemon was content to dutifully and compliantly characterize the thugs of Antifa as noble-spirited opponents of “hate” and “fascism.”
Then, on August 15, President Trump held a televised press conference where he spoke at greater length about the events of August 12 in Charlottesville. Below is a compilation of all the relevant remarks which he made to the reporters:
- “[Y]ou had a group on one side [the neo-Nazis] that was bad, and you had a group on the other side [Antifa] that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now. You had a group — you had a group on the other side [Antifa] that came charging in without a permit [to assemble and protest], and they were very, very violent.”
- “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those [pro-statue] people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.”
- “What I’m saying is this. You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch. But there is another side. There was a group [Antifa] on this side, you can call them the left. You’ve just called them the left—that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.”
- “I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.”
- “[Y]ou have some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group … that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.”
- “So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s [statue is] coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You … really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?… George Washington was a slave owner…. So, will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down … statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?”
- “And you had people, and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers [Antifa] and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You’ve got—you had a lot of bad—you had a lot of bad people in the other group.”
- “[I]t looked like they had some rough, bad people—neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But you [also] had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest, because you know—I don’t know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit. So, I only tell you this, there are two sides to a story.”
Also during his August 15 press conference, Trump asserted that on the University of Virginia campus on Friday night, August 11—some fourteen hours prior to the scheduled start of the infamous August 12 rally—there had been another group of “people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.” Critics subsequently castigated Trump for saying this, in light of the fact that many of those in the Friday-night crowd had loudly shouted anti-Semitic slogans and engaged in physical violence when confronted by counter-protesters. But the president never suggested that all of the Friday-night marchers had been “quiet” and cool-headed. Indeed, his very next sentence was this: “I’m sure in that group there were some bad ones.”
Above all else, following the August 15 press conference, Trump’s detractors zeroed in mainly on his assertion that there had been “blame on both sides,” as well as some “very fine people on both sides,” at the site of the August 12 protest. These grievances against Trump have persisted undiminished through the two-plus years since Charlottesville.
- Democrat presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, for one, said in April 2019: “Klansmen, Nazis, white supremacists—[are] in his [Trump’s] words, ‘very fine people.’”
- And former Vice President Joe Biden, blending the events of August 11 and August 12 into a single, inaccurate narrative, launched his presidential campaign in 2019 by saying: “Charlottesville is also home to a defining moment for this nation in the last few years. It was there on August of 2017 we saw Klansmen and white supremacists and neo-Nazis come out in the open, their crazed faces illuminated by torches, veins bulging, and bearing the fangs of racism. Chanting the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the ‘30s. And they were met by a courageous group of Americans, and a violent clash ensued and a brave young woman lost her life. And that’s when we heard the words from the president of the United States that stunned the world and shocked the conscience of this nation. He said there were ‘some very fine people on both sides.’ Very fine people on both sides? With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it. And in that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime.”
It would be difficult to conceive of a more dishonest, deceitful characterization of Trump’s comments, than what O’Rourke and Biden claim in the quotes above.
Trump explicitly, unmistakably, and repeatedly denounced “neo-Nazis,” “KKK,” “white supremacists,” and “white nationalists”—by name—in the course of his remarks on August 14 and August 15, 2017. He openly described them as “rough, bad people” who “should be condemned totally.” Nevertheless, it is quite evident that his critics very much want—and very much need—to believe that the president somehow endorsed the racist impulses of such human filth. For without willfully misrepresenting what Trump so clearly said, it would be impossible to read racism into his remarks.
It is equally impossible for any honest observer to read anti-Semitism—yet another defining hallmark of neo-Nazis—into Trump’s post-Charlottesville comments. But this has not prevented the president’s critics from accusing him of precisely that offense. A Vox.com piece, for instance, notes that among those who attended the “Unite The Right” rally were such despicable characters as Mike ‘Enoch’ Peinovich, “founder of the neo-Nazi podcast The Daily Shoah (an insulting reference to the Holocaust)”; “internet figure and noted anti-Semite Baked Alaska”; “fellow anti-Semite and Daily Shoah contributor Johnny Monoxide”; “neo-Nazi Christopher Cantwell,” known for publicly chanting “Jews will not replace us!”; and Michael Hill, “who lambasted ‘organized Jewry’” on Facebook. Further, Vox.com takes pains to point out that The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, touted its own involvement in “Unite The Right” by creating a poster that featured the image of a man using a sledge hammer to smash a Star of David.
It seems not to have occurred to any of those who claim that Trump lauded neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people,” that Trump has very demonstrably been a more loyal and stalwart friend to Israel and the Jewish people than any other president in American history. Consider just a few salient facts:
- Shortly after Nikki Haley, Trump’s American Ambassador to the United Nations, had attended her first UN Security Council meeting devoted to Middle East affairs, she told reporters: “The discussion was not about Hezbollah’s illegal build-up of rockets in Lebanon. It was not about the money and weapons Iran provides to terrorists. It was not about how we defeat ISIS. It was not about how we hold Bashar al-Assad accountable for the slaughter of hundreds and thousands of civilians. No, instead, the meeting focused on criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East. I am new around here, but I understand that’s how the Council has operated, month after month, for decades. I am here to underscore the ironclad support of the United States for Israel. I’m here to emphasize the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias…. We will never … allow one-sided Security Council resolutions to condemn Israel.”
- In May 2017, Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall.
- That same month, the Trump administration announced that it would increase American financial aid to Israel by $75 million, so as to help the Jewish state expand and improve its missile-defense program.
- In December 2017, Trump announced that in fulfillment of a campaign promise—and also in fulfillment of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which had passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate 22 years earlier—he was now instructing the State Department to begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Several previous presidents—Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—had made that same campaign promise and broken it.
- In May 2018, President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the disastrous Iran Nuclear Deal of 2015, an agreement by which the Obama administration—without Senate approval under the Treaty Clause of the Constitution—had helped to render the entire civilized world, and Israel in particular, vulnerable to nuclear blackmail by a fanatical apocalyptic regime that has repeatedly articulated its determination to eradicate the Jewish state from the face of the earth. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describedthe 2015 deal as a “bad mistake of historic proportions” that would enable Iran to “continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region” and “receive a sure path to nuclear weapons.” On the day the 2015 deal was formalized, Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett said: “Today a terrorist nuclear superpower is born, and it will go down as one of the darkest days in world history.”
- On March 25, 2019, President Trump, in a major shift in U.S. policy, signed a proclamation officially recognizing the Golan Heights—a large plateau that Israel had captured from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967—as part of Israel. Praising Trump for his “historic” and “invaluable” move in support of Israel’s national security, Prime Minister Netanyahu told the president: “Israel has never had a better friend than you.”
- In November 2019, the Trump administration announcedthat the United States would no longer take the position that Israeli civilian “settlements”—i.e., cities—in the West Bank were “inconsistent with international law.”
In addition to the foregoing considerations, is the very relevant fact that President Trump’s own daughter, Ivanka, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and three of his grandchildren, are orthodox Jews. The notion that Mr. Trump harbors even the barest shred of sympathy for neo-Nazis and other Jew-haters, ranks among the most ludicrous charges ever leveled against an American political figure.
But that has not stopped the authors of “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List” from absurdly claiming:
“Trump has trafficked in anti-Semitic caricatures, including the tweeting of a six-pointed star alongside a pile of cash. He has also been reluctant to condemn anti-Semitic attacks on journalists from his supporters, and he echoed neo-Nazi conspiracy theories by saying that Hillary Clinton ‘meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors’.”
“Animals” at the Border
“Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List” notes that “during a White House meeting in 2018, he [Trump] referred to some undocumented immigrants as ‘animals.’” To buttress that claim, the authors provide a link to a May 16, 2018 New York Times article that begins as follows: “President Trump lashed out at undocumented immigrants during a White House meeting on Wednesday, warning in front of news cameras that dangerous people were clamoring to breach the country’s borders and branding such people ‘animals.’”
Similarly, a May 17, 2018 story on the National Public Radio website ran the headline: “During Roundtable, Trump Calls Some Unauthorized Immigrants ‘Animals’.” And an article in USA Today started with these words:
“President Trump used extraordinarily harsh rhetoric to renew his call for stronger immigration laws Wednesday, calling undocumented immigrants ‘animals’ and venting frustration at Mexican officials who he said ‘do nothing’ to help the United States. ‘We have people coming into the country or trying to come in, we’re stopping a lot of them, but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are,’ Trump said. ‘These aren’t people. These are animals.’”
Congressional Democrats, too, were quick to complain about Trump having equated immigrants with “animals.”
- Nancy Pelosi, for one, said solemnly that Trump’s comments made her wonder whether or not the president believes “we are all God’s children.” “When the president of the United States says about undocumented immigrants, ‘these aren’t people, these are animals,’ you have to wonder,” added Pelosi, “does he not believe in the spark of divinity? The dignity and worth of every person?… Every day you think you’ve seen it all, along comes another manifestation of why their [Trump administration] policies are so inhumane.”
- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted: “When all of our great-great-grandparents came to America they weren’t ‘animals,’ and these people aren’t, either.”
Nor has the passage of time done anything to diminish the Democrats’ passion for denouncing Trump’s “animals” remark:
- In April 2019, Democrat presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said that in Trump’s view, “Asylum seekers are ‘animals’ and an ‘infestation,’ which is the way I would describe cockroaches in my house. Not human beings. It’s a term you would expect to hear in the Third Reich in the 1930s.”
- At an October 2019 town hall meeting in South Carolina, Joe Biden lamented that Trump had maligned “migrants seeking refuge in America” by saying “these aren’t people, these are animals.”
From reading or hearing the foregoing characterizations of Trump’s comments, one would have absolutely no idea that the president’s reference to “animals” was actually made in direct response to Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims’ complaint that immigration-law restrictions were preventing her from informing federal authorities that certain deportable, illegal-alien members of the brutally violent MS-13 gang were being housed, at that very moment, in a Fresno prison. “There could be an MS-13 member I know about—if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE [Immigration & Customs Enforcement] about it,” said an exasperated Mims. It was in response to that statement, that Trump made the “animals” remark quoted in USA Today: “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.” To any honest observer, it would have been quite obvious that Trump was not referring to “undocumented” or “unauthorized” immigrants generally, but to MS-13 members specifically.
Of course, some readers might wonder if—even in light of this added context—President Trump’s remarks may have been unnecessarily immoderate. Decide for yourself:
- MS-13’s initials are an acronym for “Mara Salvatrucha,” a gang composed primarily of immigrants from El Salvador and their descendants. With at least 10,000 members currently residing in at least 40 U.S. states, this gang has long been notorious for its involvement in robbery, extortion, kidnapping, murder, drug trafficking, and human trafficking. Its motto is: “Kill, rape, control.”
- Last July, 22 members of MS-13’s Los Angeles-based “Fulton Clique” were arrested for their role in 24 recent murders. As The New York Times reported: “Using machetes, knives and baseball bats, members of the criminal MS-13 gang killed their victims, dismembered their bodies and threw their remains into a canyon in the Angeles National Forest…. In one instance … members of the gang ripped out a victim’s heart.”
- A May 2018 article by Caleb Howe, the former managing editor of com, reports the following:
(1) “In 2013, two [MS-13] gang members beat and hacked a 16-year-old Houston teen to deathusing bats and machetes. They also almost decapitated him…. Both killers … were from El Salvador, here illegally.”
(2) “In 2017, as many as 10 MS-13 members stabbed a man more than 100 times in Maryland. They decapitated him and cut out his heart. The first suspect charged … was here illegally.”
(3) “Also [in 2017], MS-13 members shot an unidentified girl who was thought to be 15 in the head and chest, leaving her body in the middle of a busy street in Houston’s Chinatown. The murderer said he killed her to appease Satan…. He was from El Salvador originally, and here illegally.”
These horrific anecdotes, coupled with the broader statistics pertaining to MS-13’s prevalence in the United States, serve as strong evidence that Trump’s assessment of the gang’s members was in fact wholly justified, and that the accounts of his comments—by media outlets and elected Democrats alike—were as thoroughly dishonest as can possibly be imagined.
An “Infestation” of Illegal Immigrants
“Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List” claims that during a White House meeting in 2018, President Trump said that unless stronger border-control policies were adopted, “undocumented immigrants … would ‘pour into and infest our country.’”
In response to Trump’s remark, CNN reported that “President Donald Trump amplified his heated immigration rhetoric … accusing Democrats of wanting migrants to ‘infest our country’ and turning a speech on the economy into an angry tirade defending his harsh stance.” In a similar vein, a Buzzfeed News story began: “President Donald Trump on Tuesday equated migrants and refugees to the United States with vermin who will ‘pour into and infest our country.’” And a headline in The Atlantic Monthly read: “Trump Says Democrats Want Immigrants to ‘Infest’ the U.S.” The accompanying subtitle said: “What are infestations? They are takeovers by vermin, rodents, insects. What does one do with an infestation? Why, one exterminates it.”
But lo and behold, it turns out that, once again, Trump was most definitely not talking about “immigrants”—or even “undocumented immigrants” —generally. He was speaking very specifically about MS-13 members and their ilk. It’s not difficult to figure this out. All you have to do is read the president’s actual words: “Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our country, like MS-13.”
Illegal Immigration and “Infectious Disease”
“Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List” also reports that President Trump, during that same White House meeting in 2018, “claimed, without evidence, that migrants were bringing diseases into the country.”
“Without evidence”? Consider some highly pertinent facts, as related by author Daniel Horowitz on March 7, 2019:
“On Tuesday, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan announced the building of a new facility to deal with the health crisis of those coming over the border and surrendering themselves to agents. A whopping 31,000 medical referrals were made for illegal aliens this year, straining our hospitals and local county emergency medical personnel, up from 12,000 last year…. Over the past few months, there have been numerous cases of chicken pox, tuberculosis, scabies, and lice among the migrants…. A rotating medical team near the southern California border reportedly discovered hundreds of cases of communicable diseases and other conditions in the first two months of 2019.”
Horowitz further notes that according to the Centers for Disease Control, “Guatemalans are 83 times more likely to have tuberculosis than Americans, and seven times more likely than legal immigrants.” He also cites a Tijuana Health Department report indicating that fully one-third of the members of a large, U.S.-bound migrant caravan had required treatment, during a temporary stayover in Tijuana, for a wide variety of health issues including tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, chicken pox, lice, skin infections, and hepatitis.
In a similar vein, a March 2019 Reuters report states: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told reporters that changing demographics on the southwest border, with more immigrants from Central America traveling long distances, overwhelmed border officials and raised health concerns. ‘We are seeing migrants arrive with illnesses and medical conditions in unprecedented numbers,’ McAleenan said at a press conference.”
There is absolutely nothing “racist” about President Trump pointing out the very obvious and demonstrable fact that a porous, unregulated border tends to increase the likelihood that infectious diseases will be introduced needlessly into the United States. Nothing.
Mexican Immigrants As “Criminals” and “Rapists”
“Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List” informs us that Mr. Trump “began his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech disparaging Mexican immigrants as criminals and ‘rapists.’”
Is that characterization of Trump’s remarks accurate? The full context of his comments is as follows:
“When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically. The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems…. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with [to] us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people. It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably—probably—from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no [border] protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening [at the border]. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”
In the excerpt above, President Trump explicitly mentions the “border” by name, twice. Plus, he makes very obvious references to the border two additional times (see the bracketed inserts). In other words, he quite clearly is not “disparaging Mexican immigrants” who enter the country through lawful channels. He is describing people who choose to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, in open and contemptuous defiance of America’s immigration laws.
As for the substance of Trump’s remarks vis-à-vis the nature of the illegal border-crossers, consider the following pertinent facts:
- It is known that more than 31,000 of the illegal border-crossers who were apprehended by American authorities between 2016 and 2019 had been previously arrested, either in their respective homelands or in the U.S., for offenses like assault, battery, domestic violence, burglary, robbery, larceny, driving under the influence, homicide, manslaughter, sexual assault, illegal drug trafficking, illegal weapons trafficking, and illegal entry or re-entry. The criminal background of the innumerable border-crossers who escaped apprehension, is anyone’s guess.
- In fiscal year 2018, S. Border Patrol agents seized nearly 480,000 pounds of illicit drugs—most notably marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl—in the open desert regions of the U.S.-Mexico border. This was in addition to the 370,000 pounds of such drugs that were seized during that same period at official ports of entry between Mexico and the United States.
- At the federal, state, and local levels, U.S. taxpayers currently shell out approximately $134.9 billion annually to cover the education-, medical-, welfare-, and law-enforcement-related costs associated with the nation’s estimated 12.5 million illegal aliens and their 4.2 million citizen children (who were born in the United States). According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, this “amounts to a tax burden of approximately $8,075 per illegal alien family member.” By contrast, illegal aliens pay only about $19 billion in federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, and excise taxes annually, meaning that they represent, on balance, a huge financial drain on the United States.
- A 2015 Fox News analysis of local, state and federal data found that “illegal immigrants are three times as likely to be convicted of murder as members of the general population and account for far more crimes than their 3.5% share of the U.S. population would suggest.” It is estimated, for instance, that 13.6% of the people sentenced for all committed crimes in the United States are illegals; among these are 12% of murderers and 16% of drug traffickers. In 2014, illegals accounted for nearly three-fourths of all federal drug sentences and over one-third of federal sentences overall. And in 2015, ICE released almost 20,000 illegals who had committed a combined 64,000 crimes that included 1,728 assaults, 216 kidnappings, more than 200 homicides, and 12,307 convictions for drunken driving.
- Because of its geographic location, the state of Texas is, in the words of The Hill, “an epicenter for illegal immigrant crimes.” A crime analysis conducted by both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Texas law-enforcement authorities found that between June 2011 and March 2017, more than 217,000 criminal immigrants had been arrested and incarcerated in Texas alone. These perpetrators had jointly committed nearly 600,000 criminal offenses, including roughly 1,200 homicides, 69,000 assaults, 17,000 burglaries, 700 kidnappings, 6,200 sexual assaults, 69,000 drug offenses, 8,700 weapons violations, 3,800 robberies, and 45,000 instances of obstructing police. The DHS confirmed that about two-thirds of these immigrant criminals were in the U.S. illegally at the time of their arrests.
- In September 2014 the Huffington Post reported: “According to a stunning [net] investigation, 80 percent of [the] women and girls crossing into the U.S. by way of Mexico are raped during their journey. That’s up from a previous estimate of 60 percent, according to an Amnesty International report.”
In short, President Trump’s assertions about illegal border-crossers were notably accurate. There was nothing “racist” about his remarks at all.
“Criminals and Unknown Middle Easterners”
“Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List” complains that “Trump regularly demonized dark-skinned immigrants before the 2018 midterm elections,” and that he said “a caravan of migrants traveling through Mexico” included, as the president put it, “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners.”
The caravan in question—composed of thousands of people from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador who had candidly announced their intention of gaining illegal entry into the United States—was organized by Pueblo Sin Fronteras (PSF), a nonprofit organization whose name means “People Without Borders.” Pledging to “turn down border walls imposed by greed,” PSF’s overriding objective is to “abolish borders” and facilitate the free, unregulated movement of Central American migrants into the United States. The executive director of PSF is Emma Lozano, a left-wing activist whose nephew is the Communist Party USA / Young Communist League operative Pepe Lozano.
In November 2018, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stated that hundreds of the 10,000-or-so migrants in the aforementioned U.S.-bound caravan were already convicted criminals in their countries of origin. “[W]e cannot confirm the backgrounds and identities of all caravan members which possess a national security and public safety risk to our country,” wrote Nielsen. “However, at this point we have confirmed that there are over 600 convicted criminals traveling with the caravan flow. This includes individuals known to law enforcement for assault, battery, drug crimes, burglary, rape, child abuse and more. This is serious. Additionally, Mexico has already arrested 100 caravan members for criminal violations in Mexico.”
As for Trump’s suggestion that “unknown Middle Easterners” could be among the people capable of crossing America’s southern border illegally, a Clarion Project report states the following:
“Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah are financing Mexican drug cartels, smuggling people into America and recruiting them (for pay) as sleeper jihadist cells. The recruits are mainly immigrants to Mexico from the Middle East, mostly from Lebanon where Hezbollah is based. The coordinated operation is part of Iran’s war on America….
“In southern Chiapas in Mexico, there are Muslim communities … made up of Syrians and Lebanese who migrated to Mexico decades ago as well as recent Mexican converts to Islam. In addition, Islam is gaining a foothold and in southern Mexico, with indigenous Mayans converting by the hundreds. These communities are funded in the Diaspora and all contain sleeper cells. With the help of Mexican drug cartels, they finance and traffic extremists to the United States….”
“Shithole Countries” and “Chain Migration”
“Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List” reminds us of a January 2018 controversy where it was alleged that President Trump—at an immigration-related meeting with a handful of senators at the White House—had “vulgarly called for less immigration from Haiti and Africa and more from Norway.” This story had its roots in an unsubstantiated report by Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, who was present at the White House meeting and subsequently told reporters that the president had referred to a number of poverty-stricken, terrorism-ravaged nations as “shithole countries” Said Durbin:
“In the course of his comments of said things which were hate-filled, vile and racist—he [Trump] used those words [‘shithole countries]. I understand how powerful they are. But I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday…. He said these hate-filled things. And he said them repeatedly. When the question was raised about Haitians, for example, we have a group that have temporary protected status in the United States because they were the victims of crises and disasters and political upheaval. The largest group’s El Salvadorians. The second is Honduran and the third is Haitian.”
Trump denied having used the term that Durbin claimed to find so objectionable. But even if the president had in fact used it—in a closed-door meeting where he was speaking frankly with fellow governmental leaders, and not in a public forum of any kind—would that really have been such terrible thing? It simply is not credible that Durbin, a grown man who has been immersed in Washington bareknuckle politics since 1983, felt offended by a bit of salty language from an American president. If the senator objected so strongly to such modes of expression, why had he not raised his voice in protest after then-President Barack Obama told an Atlantic magazine interviewer in 2016 that the nation of Libya—which was replete with ISIS terrorists and was in a state of political and economic chaos—had devolved into a “shit show”?
Durbin’s purported sensitivity to Trump’s remarks seems even less credible in light of the fact that the senator is a member of the Democratic Party, whose members routinely—and very publicly—characterize the United States as a nation replete with racism, sexism, white supremacy, economic injustice, greed, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny. What are these characterizations, if not the very definitions of what one might term a “shithole country”? Are we to believe that just because an endless barrage of Democrat smears against a particular nation are articulated in leftist jargon, they are somehow less objectionable than a smear spoken in a cruder vernacular by a Republican?
Casting further doubt on Durbin’s assertion that Trump’s words had inflicted such distress upon him, is the fact that the senator also claimed to have been deeply offended by Trump’s use, in the same closed-door meeting, of the term “chain migration”—a policy permitting newly naturalized citizens (including newly amnestied illegal aliens) to bring their extended family members to the United States. As Durbin told reporters after the meeting: “When it came to the issue of, quote, ‘chain migration,’ I said to the president, do you realize how painful that term is to so many people? African-Americans believe they migrated to America in chains and when you talk about chain migration, it hurts them personally.” But the senator’s complaints ring pathetically hollow, when we consider the fact that Durbin himself had very openly used the term on past occasions.
Durbin’s feigned outrage regarding “chain migration” was mimicked by a number of congressional Democrats. Rep Chris Murphy of Connecticut, for one, tweeted that “‘chain migration’ is a made-up term” by which “the hard-line anti-immigration crowd” aims to “dehumanize immigrants.” In a similar spirit, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said: “Let’s be very clear: When someone uses the phrase ‘chain migration,’ it is intentional in trying to … demonize families and make it a racist slur.”
But as author Jonah Goldberg has pointed out, the protestations of Durbin, Murphy, Gillibrand, and their ilk amount to nothing more than a pack of lies promulgated by a band of attention-seeking drama queens. Writes Goldberg:
“According to the academic database JSTOR, there are hundreds of scholarly papers using the term, beginning in 1942. It came into wider circulation in the 1960s, no doubt because immigration policy was radically changed in 1965. LexisNexis dates the first appearance in a 1982 New York Times article about urbanization in India. Though that is probably because its database largely begins about then. The term wasn’t simply used about immigration issues in America but for migration patterns in other countries. Search for the term ‘chain migration’ at the Census Bureau’s website and you’ll find scads of reports and papers using the term, many of which were produced under the Obama administration.”
And finally, lest we get completely sidetracked by the question of what is, or is not, acceptable language for a closed-door meeting between a president and a group of senators, what can we say about the substance of Trump’s alleged reference to “shithole countries”? If Trump indeed were to have disparaged the countries cited by Durbin—El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, and certain unnamed African nations—would there have been any merit to those criticisms? Let’s take a look:
- El Salvador has, far-and-away, the highest rate of intentional homicide of any nation on earth. Honduras ranks third, and Haiti ranks 42nd (out of 192). Eighteen of the top 50, moreover, are in Africa.
- The percentage of people living on less than $5.50 per day is 29% in El Salvador, 52.6% in Honduras, and 78.9% in Haiti. In Africa, there are no fewer than 26 countries whose per capita annual GDP is below $3,000.
- In the ten African nations that are most prone to acts of Islamic terrorism, there were 1,569 terrorist incidents in 2018 alone.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, there are at least 13 countries where more than half of the inhabitants believe that Sharia—strict Islamic law that mandates the death penalty for such “crimes” as adultery, homosexuality, and apostasy—should be the official law of the land. In that same region, there are at least 10 countries where more than half the population views polygamy as morally acceptable;
Would President Trump—or any other political figure, for that matter—be justified in suggesting that it might be imprudent for America to import large numbers of people from such nations? You can decide for yourself.
Calling Obama “Lazy”
According to “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List,” President Trump “frequently claimed that Barack Obama did not work hard as president.” This is most likely a reference to the fact that between 2011 and 2016, Trump posted numerous tweets claiming that Obama was spending too much time doing things like playing golf, watching sports on television, or taking vacations.
While people may certainly disagree with Trump’s assessment of Obama’s work ethic, there is absolutely nothing inherently “racist” about that assessment. Lazy people, like all other types of people, come in all colors. Moreover, no less an authority than Barack Obama himself had publicly identified “laziness” as one of his own unsavory personal attributes. Indeed, Obama had the following exchange with ABC News’ Barbara Walters in a December 2011 interview:
WALTERS: “What’s the trait you most deplore in yourself, and the trait you most deplore in others?”
WALTERS: “You’re lazy?”
OBAMA: “You know, it’s interesting. There is a deep down, underneath all the work that I do, I think there’s a laziness in me. It’s probably from, you know, growing up in Hawaii and it’s sunny outside, and sitting on the beach.”
It is notable that the authors of “The Definitive List” choose to identify “racism” as the underlying motive for Trump’s assessment of Obama’s work ethic, but they remain silent about the fact that in December 2018, Trump said the following about his former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a white man: “Rex Tillerson didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell.”
Why the double standard?
Calling African Americans Unintelligent or Racist
“Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List” says that Trump “has a pattern of criticizing African-Americans as unintelligent.” This item links to an August 3, 2018 tweet where Trump wrote: “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.” Numerous leftists joined the authors of “The Definitive List” in ascribing Trump’s remarks about James and Lemon, to racism. For example:
- New York Times columnist Charles Blow said there was “definitely” a “racial underpinning” to Trump’s words.
- The Washington Post’s Max Boot tweeted: “I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that Trump thinks African-Americans are dumb.”
- Former CBS newsman Dan Rather characterized Trump’s tweet as a “disgrace” and “racist.”
But the notion that Trump portrays only black people as unintelligent is patently untrue. For example, he has referred to both Joe Biden and Robert De Niro—a pair of white men—as “low-IQ” individuals. And he has used such terms as “stupid,” “dumb,” and “dumb as a rock” to describe additional whites like Rex Tillerson, Mika Brzezinski, Rick Wilson, Chris Matthews, Bill Maher, Jonah Goldberg, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Lindsey Graham, and George Will.
Disparaging “Heavily Black American Cities”
“Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List” says of Trump: “He often casts heavily black American cities as dystopian war zones. In a 2016 debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump said, ‘Our inner cities, African Americans, Hispanics are living in hell because it’s so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot.’ Trump also said to black voters: ‘You’re living in poverty; your schools are no good; you have no jobs.’”
First of all, it is indeed strange to see Trump criticized for making supposedly “racist” comments like these, when a multitude of Democrats in Congress have been saying the very same things for decades, lamenting the crime and poverty that afflict black communities in the U.S. from coast to coast. During a visit to West Baltimore in 2015, for instance, Senator Bernie Sanders said: “Anyone who took the walk that we took around this neighborhood would not think you’re in a wealthy nation. You would think that you were in a Third World country.” Sanders also called it “a disgrace” that Baltimore was “a community in which half of the people don’t have jobs,” where “there are hundreds of buildings that are uninhabitable,” and where poor people “have lifespans shorter than people living under dictatorship in North Korea.”
Is Bernie Sanders a “racist” for having made these very plain and accurate observations?
The facts, unfortunately, are not on the Democrats’ side. In city after city where Democrats have been in charge politically for an extended period of time, we find exceedingly high—indeed, often colossal—levels of poverty and crime. And the longer those Democrats have been in charge, the worse the conditions tend to be. In short, Democrats have transformed a host of once-great metropolises into urban prisons where the common man—particularly the black and Hispanic common man on whose behalf Democrats typically claim to speak—has been grievously harmed by one destructive Democratic policy after another.
Of the 50 U.S. cities that: (a) have the highest violent crime rates, (b) have a population of at least 25,000, and (c) are governed by mayors who are clearly identifiable as either Democrats or Republicans, 48 are currently headed by Democratic mayors and administrations; only 2 are led by Republicans.
Similarly, of the 50 American cities with (a) the highest poverty rates, (b) populations of 60,000 or more, and (c) mayors who are clearly identifiable as either Democrats or Republicans, 46 have Democratic mayors; only 4 are governed by Republicans.
Democrats typically congratulate themselves for being the only party truly concerned with education—especially of the underprivileged—and they regularly attack conservatives and Republicans for their “callous indifference” to the scholastic needs of minority children. But it has been on the Democrats’ watch, that inner-city kids have fallen further and further behind academically. In big city after big city whose politics are dominated by Democrats, the public-school systems are mired in fiscal profligacy, bureaucratic bloat, and academic failure. It is not at all uncommon for these school districts to spend extravagant sums of money—often as much as $15,000 to $25,000 per student annually—only to have fewer than 15% of those students emerge after 12 years of “education” with even the barest shred of proficiency in reading, math, and science.
Calling Afghanistan a “Terrorist Haven”
In an article titled “Trump’s Full List of ‘Racist’ Comments about Immigrants, Muslims, and Others,” Newsweek magazine complains that the president once “said that Afghanistan is a ‘terrorist haven.’” In the interests of accuracy, it should be noted that Trump himself did not actually use the term “terrorist haven”; those words were taken, by Newsweek, from a New York Times article that said: “Mr. Trump then began reading aloud from the document, which … listed how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017. More than 2,500 were from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained.”
But regardless of whatever specific words Trump may have used, there is absolutely nothing “racist” about his claim regarding rampant terrorism in Afghanistan. Any honest assessment of that nation’s political and social climate will attest to the fact that it is the very embodiment of a terrorist haven. Consider, for instance, that the CIA lists no fewer than eight terrorist organizations as currently active in Afghanistan:
- Al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), which aims to “establish an Islamic caliphate in the Indian subcontinent” and maintains its “heaviest presence … in Afghanistan”
- Haqqani Taliban Network (HQN), which seeks to “replace the Afghan Government with an Islamic state operating according to a strict Salafi Muslim interpretation of sharia under the Afghan Taliban”
- Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI), which strives to “implement sharia in Afghanistan”
- Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM), whose mission is to “enhance its networks and paramilitary training in Afghanistan and, ultimately, incorporate Kashmir into Pakistan [and] establish an Islamic state in Kashmir”
- Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM), which aims to “participate in the insurgency against Afghan and international forces to support a Taliban return to power in Afghanistan, and annex the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan”
- Jaysh al Adl, which seeks to “enhance its operational networks and capabilities for staging cross-border attacks into Pakistan and Iran”
- Lashkar i Jhangvi, whose objective is to “enhance its networks and paramilitary training in Afghanistan, exterminate Shia Muslims, [and] rid the Afghanistan-Pakistan region of Western influence”
- Lashkar-e Tayyiba, which vows to “attack Western, Indian, and Afghan interests in Afghanistan; support the Taliban’s return to power; enhance its recruitment networks and paramilitary training in Afghanistan; and, ultimately, install Islamic rule throughout South Asia”
In August 2019, The Diplomat reported that the terror threat in Afghanistan is even broader than that, stating:
“The UN assesses that the Taliban is the ‘primary partner’ of a variety of terrorist groups: al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (non-ISKP faction), and the Turkestan Islamic Party, ‘as well as nearly 20 other regionally and globally focused groups’ in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda and ISKP both consider Afghanistan an important region to recuperate and plan their next phase of operations.”
The “Muslim Ban”
By now, virtually every American has heard about Donald Trump’s infamous “Muslim ban.” If you Google the phrase “Trump and ‘Muslim ban’,” you’ll get well over 1.2 million search results. The term “Muslim ban” refers to the fact that President Trump, professing a desire “to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America,” issued a January 2017 executive order calling for: (a) a four-month suspension of almost all travel and refugee admissions to the U.S. from six nations that were hotbeds of Islamic terrorism: Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Sudan and Yemen; (b) an indefinite suspension of admissions from Syria, where widespread terrorism was exacerbated by a bloody civil war; and (c) an “extreme vetting” process for any and all immigrants and visitors to the U.S.
And how, exactly, did President Trump select the seven aforementioned Muslim-majority countries as targets for his executive action? Actually, he chose precisely the same seven countries that had been named in the Visa Waiver Program Improvement & Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, which passed easily through Congress and was signed into law by President Obama in December 2015. Moreover, Trump’s instinct for caution was supported by previous statements that had been issued by a number of high-ranking Obama officials—including FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, CIA Director John Brennan, and FBI Deputy Assistant Director Michael Steinbach—all of whom were in agreement that it would be impossible for U.S. immigration authorities to reliably screen out terrorists posing as refugees.
Nevertheless, the reaction to Trump’s executive order—by media outlets and Democrat legislators alike—was pure, unrestrained, venomous outrage. During Trump’s first week in office, The New York Times published an opinion piece under the headline: “Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Cowardly and Dangerous.” The Times also ran a video feature titled “World Reaction to Trump’s Muslim Ban,” which showed a selection of people from across the globe explaining, with unanimity, that Trump’s proposed policy was a “really crazy,” “inhumane,” and “totally unacceptable” “media stunt” rooted in a strain of “racial discrimination” that was contrary to “American values.”
These types of headlines and news items have continued, without pause, ever since. And Democrat politicians have been exceedingly eager to lend their voices to the chorus. Bernie Sanders, for one, has described what he calls Trump’s “Muslim ban” as a “racist and anti-Islamic” outgrowth of “fear, racism and xenophobia.” According to former Vice President Joe Biden: “President Trump’s travel ban—the Muslim ban—remains one of his most egregious attacks on our core values. Spewing the politics of fear & slandering an entire religious community as complicit in terrorism is wrong & goes against everything we stand for.”
But the notion that Trump’s executive order amounted to a “Muslim ban” is wholly inconsistent with reality. While the order originally affected 7 majority-Muslim nations with an aggregate population of approximately 227 million people, it had no effect whatsoever on the more-than-40 other majority-Muslim nations around the world, or the 1.6 billion people who inhabit them.
In September 2017, the Trump administration issued a revised version of the original executive order banning travel from certain countries. The nations included in the new list were: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Chad (which was later dropped from the list), North Korea, and Venezuela. Though the latter two nations have almost no Muslims in their respective populations, Trump’s critics continue to cite the “Muslim ban” as a great affront to Islam and its people. Nor has their outrage been curtailed by the fact that the Supreme Court ruled in June 2018 that Trump’s executive order was constitutional.
“Ripping” Children from “The Arms of Their Parents” and Putting Them in “Cages”
From California to Texas, the southern U.S. border separating America from Mexico stretches 1,954 miles. Along that span, there are currently 330 officially recognized ports of entry—about one every six miles or so—where people seeking admission to the United States can lawfully present themselves and have their requests considered. If they wish to apply for asylum—i.e., refuge away from a country to which it would be too dangerous for them to return—they must prove that in their homeland they have faced persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, social-group membership, or political opinions. The pursuit of employment or “a better life” in the United States is not considered sufficient legal cause for requesting asylum.
For many years, America’s southern border has been overrun by people crossing illegally into the United States by the tens of thousands each month. For the most part, these people have chosen not to present themselves to U.S. authorities at any of the 330 official ports of entry, where they could have accessed food, water, and medical care if necessary. Instead they have elected to breach the border at locations somewhere between those ports of entry, in the midst of an arid desert, where, immediately upon planting their feet on the American side of the border with Mexico, they have actively sought out U.S. border authorities, in hopes of being taken into custody and then applying for asylum. Why?
Because they have understood that if they were to apply for asylum through lawful channels at official ports of entry, they would most likely be deported for having no legitimate basis for making such an application. By contrast, if they could somehow manage to sneak into U.S. territory before making their asylum requests, they were unlikely to be sent back to Mexico right away; rather, they stood a good chance of being released into the U.S. interior, along with a notice instructing them to report for a formal asylum hearing at some date in the very distant future, given the massive backlog of cases in American immigration courts. This of course would give such people plenty of time to simply “disappear,” never again to be seen by U.S. immigration authorities.
When the number of apprehended illegal border-crossers reached nearly 40,000 in both March and April of 2018, the Trump administration attempted to curtail their continued entry into the U.S. On April 6th, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the government would thenceforth pursue a “zero-tolerance” policy whereby every adult caught illegally crossing the border—or even attempting to do so—would be subject to criminal prosecution, while any minor children accompanying them would be placed in shelters.
In response to this announcement, the Democratic Party launched a vicious propaganda campaign against President Trump and members of his administration, accusing them of mistreating poor, defenseless migrants and their young children in the most abominable ways. Particularly widespread were charges that the administration was pursuing a policy of forced “family separation” whereby youngsters were routinely being “ripped” from the arms of their parents along the U.S.-Mexico border. Former Vice President Joe Biden, for one, denounced “this administration’s policies that literally rip babies from the arms of their mothers and fathers” as “one of the darkest moments in our history.” Senator Bernie Sanders said, “You don’t rip little children away from the arms of their mother.” And Senator Elizabeth Warren told a large crowd of her supporters in Boston: “President Trump seems to think the only way to have immigration rules is [to] rip parents from their families … and to put children in cages.”
In June 2018, some 111 House Democrats signed a letter urging the top two members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security to bar the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from funding the enforcement of Trump’s “inhumane” and “misguided” policy of “family separation” at the border. That same month, Ron Wyden led 37 fellow Senate Democrats as well as Independents Bernie Sanders and Angus King, in sending President Trump a letter demanding that he “rescind” his “unethical, ineffective, and inhumane” border policy because of its “traumatizing impacts” on detainees.
Supplementing these efforts were media outlets nationwide, which disseminated a massive array of stories about—and images of—weeping mothers and children being separated from one another at America’s southern border. One of the more iconic pictures was a Time magazine cover that showed a small girl crying in terror as she looked up at the unsympathetic face of Donald Trump, whose image had been positioned before her. The caption read, “Welcome to America.”
Absent from the foregoing condemnations of the Trump border policy was any acknowledgment of the fact that the Obama administration had likewise separated many thousands of parents from their children. The main difference is that Obama did not apply separation in a “zero-tolerance” manner, but reserved it chiefly for cases where the parents were known to have criminal backgrounds or drug involvement. Most other family units were released into the American interior, usually never to be heard from again.
The origin of the so-called “separation” policy dates back to the mid-1980s. Following is a brief overview of the policy’s history:
- In 1985, when the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) had jurisdiction over all immigration matters in the United States, a number of activist organizations filed a class-action lawsuit challenging an INS policy that: (a) prevented unaccompanied illegal-alien children from being released to any U.S.-based adults other than their parents or legal guardians, and (b) stipulated that in such cases, the children were to be detained by U.S. authorities for their own protection.
- In 1988, Judge Robert Kelleher of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled in favor of the aforementioned plaintiffs by making it easier to release minors to the care of adults who were not the youngsters’ parents or guardians.
- In 1990, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Kelleher’s decision and upheld the original INS policy.
- But in 1991, all eleven judges of the Ninth Circuit Court met en banc and issued a 7-4 decision reversing the three-judge panel’s decision and reaffirming Judge Kelleher’s 1988 position.
- In 1992 this same case, known as Reno v. Flores, went to the Supreme Court, which in 1993 voted 7-2 in favor of reversing the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision and restoring the original INS policy from pre-1988. As Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority: “Where the Government does not intend to punish the child, and where the conditions of Governmental custody are decent and humane, such custody surely does not violate the Constitution.”
- Notwithstanding this emphatic decision by the nation’s highest court, immigration activist groups continued to file lawsuits and to apply political pressure aimed at restoring Judge Kelleher’s 1988 standard.
- Eventually, in 1997, INS Commissioner Doris Meissner—fulfilling the wishes of the Clinton administration—signed a settlement of the Flores case whereby the government agreed that it would thenceforth strive to place unaccompanied alien children in the “least restrictive” setting by releasing them “without unnecessary delay” to—in order of preference—their parents, legal guardians, other adult relatives, or other individuals designated by the parents or guardians.
- In 2003, Congress disbanded the INS and transferred the agency’s responsibilities to several entities within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The task of placing alien minors with their parents or other caretakers, however, was assigned to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). But immigrant-rights activists persisted in complaining that the DHS, HHS, and ORR were not adequately complying with the terms of the 1997 Flores
Finally, in 2015, California federal district court judge Dolly Gee, an appointee of President Obama, ruled that because detention centers in Texas had failed to meet the standards laid out in Flores, the Obama administration would now be required to release—within 20 days—all children apprehended while crossing the border illegally, whether or not they were accompanied by an adult.
“In other words,” the Center for Immigration Studies explained in February 2019, “now all minors in detention, whether or not they were with their parents, couldn’t be detained for more than three weeks. This ruling laid the groundwork for the current [policy], in which children are released while their parents can still be detained awaiting hearings—hence, the ‘separation’ of families. The alternative is simply releasing the entire family after three weeks or less.”
These were precisely the same narrow alternatives that were open to the Trump administration in April 2018, when it implemented its new “zero-tolerance” policy vis-a-vis illegal entry. On June 20, 2018, President Trump, under mounting political pressure not only from Democrats but also from members of his own party, signed an executive order ending the practice of separating children from their parents at the border, while keeping the zero-tolerance policy intact. In other words, it would now be deemed permissible to detain adult migrants and their children together indefinitely. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” said Trump. The president’s order also required the Defense Department to provide and, “if necessary,” construct facilities in which to house and care for the families.
Democrats and their mouthpieces in the leftist media were not at all mollified by Trump’s gesture, however. As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put it, the president’s executive order merely sought to “replace one form of child abuse with another” by “pav[ing] the way for the long-term incarceration of families in prison-like conditions.” The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, condemned the Trump administration for its continued “animus toward immigrants and its inhumane border policies.”
In other words, President Trump was going to be portrayed as a despicable, congenital “racist” no matter what he did, short of releasing every illegal border-crosser into the U.S. interior—and essentially declaring all of our nation’s immigration laws null, void, and meaningless.
Turning a Blind Eye to Trump’s Laudable Words and Deeds
While the American news media have been so intent on portraying President Trump’s every word, every action, and every breath as “racist,” they have dutifully avoided reporting on events that might contradict their carefully scripted narrative.
To cite one recent example, consider some of the profoundly positive things that Trump said in his speech to the Young Black Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., where he was received with enormous warmth and enthusiasm, in October 2018. “[I]t is my great honor,” the president stated, “to be with so many brilliant—and that’s what you are, brilliant, courageous, patriotic and proud Americans. Seeing all of you here today fills me with an extraordinary confidence in America’s future, and the great, great future of our country…. You are true leaders on your campuses, in your churches and in your communities.”
Don’t feel too badly if you never heard about the Young Black Leadership Summit, or about Trump’s remarks there. News reporters must have scarcely had a moment to mention the event, given the fact that they were so busy chronicling the president’s “racism” on a minute-by-minute basis.
It is also unlikely that you ever heard about President Trump’s September 10, 2019 address at the annual Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Week Conference in Washington, D.C., where he said things like this:
- “For more than 180 years, HBCUs have strengthened our country and called America to greatness. Your institutions have been pillars of excellence in higher education and the engines of advancement for African-American citizens.”
- “My administration is deeply devoted to advancing this amazing legacy of success, commitment, and contribution to our nation. You have never stopped working to improve this country, and you deserve a government—you have to just keep going. You really do deserve a government that never stops working for you. And you never stop working for it. You’re amazing people in this room. Incredible people. And I congratulate you for it.”
- “Every day of my presidency, we’ll strive to give every child, of every background and every race, religion, and creed, the best chance to reach that beautiful American Dream.”
- “We want to help each student have the experience they need to get a tremendous job, enjoy a rewarding career, and join our great national effort to rebuild America.”
- “The fierce dedication to strengthening HBCUs is a core part of my administration’s unwavering focus on the project of national renewal.”
At that same event, Trump proudly announced that he had: (a) signed legislation to increase federal funding for HBCUs by a record 13%; (b) directed the entire federal government to develop a strategy to help HBCUs “receive [the] resources and support that you deserve”; (c) instructed NASA as well as the Departments of Labor and Education to recruit HBCU students and to increase apprenticeship opportunities for them; and (d) opened a White House office to coordinate and oversee these various initiatives. “Our federal budget also prioritizes HBCUs in our plan to give more students access to state-of-the-art training in high-demand fields, such as science, technology, engineering, and math,” the president noted as well.
But as National Review contributing editor Deroy Murdock points out: “All three evening-news shows entombed this [HBCU] story. Instead, ABC spent 15 seconds on the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders doubling their pay. CBS delivered 22 seconds on the medical benefits of twice-weekly naps. And NBC broadcast one minute and 34 seconds on a 9-year-old Ohioan who was ‘lunch-shamed’ at his school.”
In September 2019 as well, President Trump made the following remarks at a Hispanic Heritage Month reception at the White House:
- “This evening, we come together to honor the devotion, and the drive, and the faith, and genius, and exceptional achievements of our incredible Hispanic American community.”
- “Hispanic Americans have been a big part of our national story from the very, very beginning of our country. You work hard. You raise your strong and beautiful families. You care for your neighbors. You start businesses, you create jobs, and you teach your children to love our country and to cherish our God-given freedom. Hispanic Americans enrich America in countless ways, and we will always honor this solemn commitment to you. I will always be with you, and I think you know that maybe better than anybody knows it.”
- “Last week, I had the privilege of awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to another phenomenal member of the Hispanic American community: the legendary pitcher for the New York Yankees … Mariano Rivera…. Mariano is one of millions of the outstanding men and women of Hispanic heritage who has excelled in every dimension of American society, and helped to build our community into the greatest nation the world has ever seen.”
- “Thank you for your contribution to our culture. And thank you for helping make America greater than ever before.”
The media, however, were mostly unwilling to believe anything positive that Trump may have said at the White House reception. An opinion piece in The Hill, for instance, condemned “Trump’s bigotry” and stated: “The president’s antipathy towards Latinos is well-documented…. During this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, affirming our heritage represents a kind of defiance to a president and an administration that is hostile to Latinos.”
A few days after the Hispanic Heritage Month gathering at which the president spoke, NBC News quoted an information-technology worker in Tennessee saying: “He [Trump] speaks nothing but hate rhetoric. If the leader of this country is free to speak like that, there’s going to be people who think it’s OK to speak like that. He’s making people live their life in fear.”
At a September 22, 2019 event at Houston’s NRG Stadium, where some 50,000 immigrants from India (and their American-born descendants) gathered for “a community summit” in honor of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Trump told the crowd that he and Mr. Modi “have come to Houston to celebrate everything that unites America and India—our shared dreams and bright futures.” Despite the fact that U.S. citizens of Indian ancestry had voted overwhelmingly against him in 2016, Trump declared: “I’ve also come to express my profound gratitude to the nearly 4 million amazing Indian Americans all across our country. You enrich our culture, you uphold our values, you uplift our communities, and you are truly proud to be American. And we are proud to have you as Americans. We thank you. We love you.”
“This occasion in Houston was a high-water mark in relations between Earth’s two most populous republics,” Deroy Murdock observes. “Regardless, Trump and Modi’s love-in received zero minutes and zero seconds of coverage on that evening’s NBC Nightly News. However, America’s highest-rated news program for the coveted 25-to-54 demographic devoted two minutes and 35 seconds to correspondent Sam Brock’s report on the 25th anniversary of The Shawshank Redemption. Likewise … ABC’s World News Tonight totally spurned Trump’s Indo-extravaganza. However, it focused for one minute and 45 seconds on Katie, a border collie that was lost in Montana and found, alive, 57 days later.”
* The piece above is derived from: “Debunking the ‘Trump Is a Racist’ Charge” (by John Perazzo, 11-29-2019).
- Contrary to early reports, it appears that the counter-protesters did in fact have a permit as well.
- See note #1.
Debunking the “Trump Is a Racist” Charge
By John Perazzo
November 29, 2019