Terry H. Schwadron
Aug. 15, 2018
You’d think that the world was on fire because a television reality personality decried President Trump as a racist and misogynist, and then the president forgot the nation’s issues to prove that he is a racist and misogynist by calling OmarossaManigault Newman, the only African-American to have served in a senior role in the White House, a “lowlife” and a “dog.”
The tweet: “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”
That was all the cable news shows could handle. Serious and earnest talking heads, even on Fox, had to nod sagely and intone that this was important.
Let’s cut to the chase. Donald Trump has a wildly inflaming video reel of himself issuing insulting remarks that offend women, people of color, immigrants, Democrats and anyone who dares to speak poorly of his actions. There is no question that he demeans people with the exact language of supremacists and that he repeatedly acts and speaks against women.
This is not a matter of debate. This is a matter of paying attention to what the man says and does.
CNN said, “Referring to an African-American woman as an animal is at best a sharp departure from the language typically employed by Presidents and at worst a reference that traffics in sexual and racial imagery. Trump has long denied being racist and has dismissed a claim made by Manigault Newman that he used a racial slur on the set of “The Apprentice.” He’s also invoked “dog” to insult non-African-Americans — including Mitt Romney and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.”
Words to the same effect were repeated all day long on cable news stations across the spectrum.
The New York Times chided, “Even for a president who consistently takes to Twitter to assail his adversaries, the morning tweet about Ms. Manigault Newman was a remarkably crude use of the presidential bully pulpit to disparage a minority woman who once served at the highest levels in his White House.”
OK. We seem now to have just discovered that the world is not flat or that fire is hot.
Whether Trump used “the n-word,” as alleged by Omarossa, who was fired from her job as director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison by Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly last December, is hardly the most important challenge for this country.
Omarossa has a new book called, “Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House,” which contains several unflattering claims against the President and his staff. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has said the book is “riddled with lies and false accusations.”
Of course, Sanders yesterday declined to say that Trump was never on tape using racial slurs.
What is among the most important issues facing the country is failing to stop its ugly, evil history of racism.
During this same week, film director Spike Lee’s new movie, BlackkKlansman is out with a brilliant, biting look at the deep roots of supremacist America with plenty of connections to current day incidents; in a television interview, Spike Lee said “the orange tornado” — I don’t use his name — has made it normal for others to pick up white supremacist language.” During this same week, we had would-be supremacists turn out in tiny numbers for a Washington rally on the anniversary of the Charlottesville, Va. madness last year, only to face a crowd of thousands who offered to push back at them.
But during this same week, we have had government actions against food stamps, against available health care, against public education, against immigrants legal and undocumented, against maintaining open voter registration, against affirmative action. We have had more police shootings involving black men, we have had more urban violence, we have had wage stagnation and the cutting of job training funds.
It is easy for cable talking heads to bat Trump around the ears over words that the president may or may not have used in public. Even one or two Republicans said the president shouldn’t talk of women as dogs.
“Trump talks better about (Russian leader Vladimir) Putin than he does about women,” said anchor Nicole Wallace of MSNBC in incredulous tones.
Where are Republicans to say that Trump had no business naming Omarossa to a White House job in the first place. The best we got was focus on the or inappropriateness of Omarossa taping private conversations inside the White House, certainly a violation of her employment. (Just in passing, what it is with a Trump White House that insists on staff signing an unenforceable, non-disclosure/non-disparaging agreement?)
In all the fuss, it almost passed the same level of attention that Omarossa has been in touch with the office of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. She alleges that Trump knew that Russians and Wikileaks had knowledge of Hillary Clinton’s emails before Wikileaks released them. That came out in one of the myriad, serial television interviews she gave, but there were no offers of proof.
My question is where are the legions of official Washington who should be lining up to say it is time to get serious about removing the officially sanctioned status of racism?