Racism is one of those words so ugly that people will contort all logic to deny its existence, especially when it comes to themselves. So I was THRILLED when Leon Wolf, in the ultraconservative website Red State, wrote on 3 June: “This is What Overt Racism Looks Like.”
I am sorry, but there is nothing else to call this. The Wall Street Journal has… released an interview with Donald Trump in which Trump explains his repeated and continued attacks on Gonzalo Curiel, the judge assigned to the Trump University case. Curiel’s decision to release records related to the case in response to a public interest request filed by the Washington Post has clearly infuriated Trump…
In a rambling tirade against the judge…, Trump said, among other things, that Curiel was “a Mexican, we think.” (Curiel, as it happens, is from the Chicago area, but his parents are of Mexican heritage.) The WSJ finally got around to asking Trump the question that should have been asked from the first moment he mentioned the judge’s ethnicity, which was actually a couple months ago when Curiel refused to dismiss the case on summary judgment. That question, of course, is “Why would you bring up the judge’s ethnicity at all?”
An excellent question. Note that NOW Trump says his words were misconstrued. I call BS.
Trump’s answer was, shall we say, revealing:
…Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said.
So, because the judge is of the same ethnicity as the people who would be presumably kept out of the United States by a wall, he clearly cannot be fair and impartial. Donald Trump is suggesting an ethnic litmus test for federal judges.
Think about what Trump is saying for a minute. Forget that Trump himself repeatedly bragged on the primary campaign trail that he would win the Hispanic vote and focus on what he is now saying: he is saying that no Hispanic person on earth can be trusted to give him a fair hearing. He is saying that no one – even a Mexican born in America – can be trusted rule impartially in accordance with the law simply because of Trump’s stance on whether there ought to be a wall on the Southern border.
This was not a slip of the tongue that he walked back. In fact, on CBS’s Face the Nation this past Sunday, he confirmed his intent.
Keep in mind, Curiel himself is not an illegal immigrant, or even an immigrant. I have no idea whether his parents were even immigrants or illegal immigrants. They are of Mexican heritage, therefore he cannot be trusted to pass judgment on Trump, who supports a wall on the Mexican border.
Look, there’s no other way to say this: that’s just overt racism. Saying that this guy has a “conflict of interest” against Trump solely based on his Mexican heritage is also an accidental admission on Trump’s part that he is opposed to Mexicans.
And THAT is what racism looks like in this modern world. It’s not separate water fountains or derogatory names. It’s suggesting that a judge of an ethnic minority, at least when he’s in conflict with Trump, cannot be trusted to give a fair hearing on an issue that affects his tribe.
Might not a white male be biased IN FAVOR of the wall? And how would you measure this? Or is that one should automatically disqualify women judges in cases of contraception, black judges in any case about racial discrimination, LGBT judges in gay equality cases, any judge that isn’t a Christian in the separation of church and state doctrine, et al.? The implication is that the non-minority (or man) would be MORE fair, somehow, makes no sense to me.
Or should we ban white judges from trials involving white defendants?
It is ironic then that Trump refers to Judge Curiel as a “hater.” Because it is the Republican nominee for President who’s showing the disdain. In the short term, painting the attributes of oneself onto another may work in the short term, but is generally rooted out.
“I love Hispanics!” is a weird thing to say about a group of people who you say are inherently untrustworthy when it comes to anything they say about you, Mr. Trump.
He’s not dog whistling it any more. He’s not doing the wink-and-nod thing. He’s flat out saying: you cannot trust anything this guy says about me because he’s a Mexican. If that isn’t racism, I don’t know what is.
In the comments, in the various news columns about this story, several people have said, “But Trump has a point.” Yes, the “point” is that Trump is making racist observations, and one rationalizing their legitimacy means those commenters ought to check their own biases.
No, he’s not really going to build a wall, and let Mexico pay for it. He will not be able to get every Muslim to be blocked at the border. But he has made it the norm to be racist and to vent these kinds of un-American things.
Yet the Republican leaders reacted to Trump’s most recent racist rantings as though they came “totally out of left field,” when it’s been consistent with his message literally since he announced for president. The question is whether the party will continue to disavow their candidate’s bigotry.
And Trump may be interfering with the due process of the legal proceeding. The judge cannot comment on the case, per the code of conduct. HuffPo says: “Legal scholars said Trump could face consequences for slamming the judge, although many have speculated that Curiel was unlikely to sanction him formally.” The judge can, but probably WON’T slap down Trump because it’ll be seen by others through both a political and racial lens.