Politics & Policy

On Race & the Right, the Washington Post Gets It Wrong

President Trump at a “Make America Great Again” rally in Moon Township, Pa., March 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Trump’s so-called ‘racial invective’ is purely imaginary.

Just in time for the final campaign sprint from Labor Day to Election Day, the Washington Post recently published a veritable how-to guide to smear the GOP as the party of bigotry. Blending distortions of current events and dishonesty about U.S. history, this article recycled enough old chestnuts on alleged Republican racism to stuff a Thanksgiving turkey.

Ashley Parker, Sung Min Kim, and Robert Costa penned an article titled “‘I’m not going there’: As Trump hurls racial invective, most Republicans stay silent.” Starting with contemporary controversies, the Post claimed that President Donald J. Trump has “immersed the nation in a new wave of fraught battles over race.” But these disputes involve ethnicity only if ones shoves them through the over-deployed prism of race.

According to the Post, Trump’s denunciation of his former aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman as a “dog” was clearly a racist — well — dog whistle. The paper ignored the fact that Trump has used Twitter to chomp canine bites out of whites, both male and female:

• “Sloppy Steve [Bannon] has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone.”

• “@EWErickson got fired like a dog from RedState and now he is the one leading opposition against me.”

• “@DavidGregory got thrown off of TV by NBC, fired like a dog!”

• Arianna Huffington “is a dog who wrongfully comments on me.”

Several observers also have remarked that Trump’s references to Representative Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) as “low IQ” and to various knee-taking football players as “dumb” also prove Trump’s anti-black bigotry. This theory collapses the second that one remembers the Caucasians whose intellects Trump has lampooned:

• “Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot — resign!”

• “I know Mark Cuban well . . . He’s not smart enough to run for president!”

• “Great job @MariaTCardona on @ThisWeekABC. You made kooky Cokie Roberts and @BillKristol look even dumber than they are.”

• “Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!”

• “While I have never met @nytdavidbrooks of the NY Times, I consider him one of the dumbest of all pundits — he has no sense of the real world!”

Are these and similar Twitter barbs unpresidential?

Yes.

Do such comments needlessly distract from Trump’s public-policy priorities and other serious issues?

Yes.

Are Trump’s remarks racist?

No.

The Post quotes frequent Trump foe Senator Jeff Flake. Apparently tired of being a burr beneath Trump’s saddle, the Arizona Republican will retire in January. Flake slams Trump for “failure to, you know, condemn in Charlottesville” and for the “Muslim ban.” Flake should know better, and the Post did not correct him. Trump did, in fact, denounce last August’s mayhem in Charlottesville, soon after it began.

On August 12, at 10:19 a.m., Trump said via Twitter: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for, there is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one!”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence, on many sides,” Trump told journalists later that day, as the carnage roared on, thanks to white-nationalist brutes on one fringe and Antifa thugs on the other.

“Racism is evil,” Trump said two days later. “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.”

As for the so-called “Muslim ban,” the Supreme Court in June upheld Trump’s temporary restrictions on travel from, previously, eight majority-Muslim nations that failed U.S. security requirements. Iraq, Sudan, and Chad moved off of this list by obeying these regulations, which still hinder these five garden spots: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

As Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion explained, Trump’s “policy covers just 8 percent of the world’s Muslim population.” A “ban” that excludes 92 percent of Earth’s Muslims hardly reeks of prejudice.

The Post claimed that Trump rode “to electoral victory by focusing almost exclusively on disaffected white voters.” In fact, Trump did something seldom seen among GOP presidential nominees: He asked for black votes. Trump stumped in black churches in Detroit and Flint, Mich., and at a Cleveland charter school. “What the hell do you have to lose?” Trump asked black voters at numerous rallies. Trump won 8 percent of the black vote, up from 6 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012. Trump also won 28 percent of the Hispanic vote, including 32 percent of Hispanic men. Thus, Trump’s winning coalition was black, brown, and white.

“Beginning with the violent opposition among some white voters to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Republican leaders began appealing to white voters,” the Post stumbled down memory lane. It forgot that Democrats filibustered against that landmark legislation. A former Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, led the charge. Democrats J. William Fulbright of Arkansas and Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee were among those who tried to keep Jim Crow alive. They lost when Republican leader Everett McKinley Dirksen of Illinois rallied GOP senators and anti-segregationist Democrats, stymied the Southern Democrats’ speechathon, and transmitted the bill to President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s desk for signature.

The Post chided Richard Nixon and the GOP for allegedly luring white votes “with calls for ‘law and order.’” The decades-old Left-wing claim that demanding “law and order” is pro-white is, itself, racist. Blacks do not enjoy crime and chaos today, nor did we in 1968. With cities ripped by riots and campus ROTC offices ablaze, America needed, and most Americans wanted, law and order. Such pleas were no more anti-black than ringing the fire department while one’s roof is burning.

The Post also neglected to state that the allegedly racist Nixon opened the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and launched the Philadelphia Plan, which established pro-minority racial preferences in federally funded construction projects. This would seem to undermine the supposedly bigoted goals of the so-called “Southern strategy” of campaigning in Dixie.

“During the 1980 campaign,” the Post noted, “Ronald Reagan was criticized for speaking about states’ rights near Philadelphia, Miss., the town where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964.” That August 3, Reagan addressed the Neshoba County Fair, a popular campaign stop celebrated in that June’s National Geographic. Reagan briefly mentioned “states’ rights” in the middle of a lighthearted, funny, race-neutral speech. “States’ rights,” also called federalism, has been a basic tenet of conservatism since the Tenth Amendment.

The Post ignored the fact that Reagan flew the very next day to Manhattan to address the Urban League, a major civil-rights organization. Also, as president, Reagan signed the Martin Luther King holiday into law and approved an extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — hardly the stuff of white supremacism. As for the “racist” Neshoba County Fair, that notorious white nationalist, Governor Michael Dukakis (D., Mass), campaigned there for president in 1988.

President Ronald Reagan signs the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday into law, November 2, 1983. (National Archives)

Next, the Post hammered George H. W. Bush “for airing a television ad that showed the image of a convicted black murderer, Willie Horton, in arguing that his Democratic rival was soft on crime.” Bush did not produce this 1988 spot. Conservative activist Floyd Brown did so, independently. He, in turn, may have been inspired by the man who first invoked Horton: U.S. Senator Albert Gore, Jr. (D., Tenn.). Gore unsuccessfully weaponized Horton to demolish Dukakis as pro-criminal.

The Post frets that “the ­president remains deeply popular within a party dominated by older white voters.” Overlooked is the fact that Trump’s job approval among blacks, according to Rasmussen, has climbed from 19 percent in August 2017 to 36 percent last week. The Post article may reflect Democrats’ growing panic over how this could damage their midterm prospects — especially if Trump wisely campaigns before black audiences, trumpets the near-record black employment levels his policies have catalyzed, and urges black voters to fuel further pro-market growth by voting Republican in November.

Thus, this Washington Post hit piece is a classic left-wing template for tarring the Republican party as the natural home of American bigots. Here, classic means shopworn, discredited, and untrue. Alas, thanks to relentless repetition, these virulent lies also are tougher to shake than shingles.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

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