Being the ever-menacing carnival barker that he is, former president Donald J. Trump, in a speech to a Black conservative group on the night of February 23 stated that the four criminal cases he is facing have garnered him significant support from Black voters due to the historic injustices that Black Americans have endured at the hands of the criminal justice system, and thus, Black people can identify with his legal dilemma.

At the Black Conservative Federation Gala in Columbia, South Carolina, Trump argued, “I think that’s why the Black people are so much on my side now because they see what’s happening to me happens to them. Does that make sense?” During his speech, he further commented that Black voters had warmed him “because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against, and they actually viewed me as being discriminated against. It’s been pretty amazing.”

Continuing his barrage of dishonest and racially offensive rhetoric, he stated, “The lights are so bright in my eyes that I can’t see too many people out there.” To laughter from the audience, Mr. Trump continued, “But I can only see the Black ones. I can’t see any white ones. You see?” “That’s how far I’ve come,” he added as the crowd cheered. “That’s how far I’ve come. That’s a long - that’s a long way, isn’t it?” Yes, you read that correctly. Talk about political theater of the arrogant, racist and absurd! Such commentary is textbook racism.

He spoke at length about his signature criminal justice reform bill, which he signed into law with the assistance of CNN commentator Van Jones and other Black leaders and activists who, among other things, sought to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for some crimes. He eagerly informed the crowd at the gala that he had pardoned numerous individuals, including Alice Johnson, a Black woman who was convicted on drug charges and given a life sentence. While such an executive order was lauded by many Black people, as well as liberals and progressives in general, the fact remains that the former commander-in-chief embodies a record on racial issues that is far from admirable.

Both Trump and a few members of his immediate family have been accused of racially inflammatory remarks and behavior. The Justice Department sued him in 1977 for discriminating against potential Black tenants. He was taken to task for stoking racial tension when he purchased newspaper ads in the New York Times in the late 1980s urging the state to adopt the death penalty after the rape of a jogger in Central Park, a crime wrongly blamed on five Black and Latino teenagers. It is also important to note that he has never apologized to these young men who lost more than a decade of their lives to such a gross injustice of the criminal justice system.

By the way, let’s not forget (many of us who are people of color have not) when he was frantically promoting his supposedly conservative credentials to his MAGA right wing base how he arrogantly and shamelessly engineered racial animus toward President Barack Obama by becoming an ardent proponent of the so-called birther movement, which perversely and falsely promoted the lie that President Obama was not a native-born American citizen. Later, at a press conference at the grand opening of one his hotels, Trump was forced to acknowledge to the many journalists in attendance that “Barack Obama was born in the United States.” To be honest, much of the mainstream media deserved to be sucker punched for disingenuously entertaining such nonsense! Indeed, do we think that Hillary Clinton or John McCain would not have exposed such a “revelation” during the 2008 presidential campaign?!

Trump continues to revert to and engage in xenophobic foolishness toward people of color by continuing to aggressively pronounce Obama’s middle name, “Hussein,” as well refer to Nikki Haley as Nimrata Randhawa when he mentions both individuals on the campaign trail. And he has continued to question whether political opponents are eligible to hold office, in particular former governor and ambassador Haley.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that he laid into progressives and the left by arguing that President Biden and the democratic left represented the antithesis of any of the pivotal issues that are of crucial interest to Black Americans. In fact, he was just getting warmed up! He hurled all sorts of criticisms at Biden, referring to him as “racist,” and he denounced the president for the crime occurring in various American cities as well as his endorsement of the 1994 crime bill. To be fair, the bill had considerable support from lawmakers of all races and ethnicities as well as across the political spectrum.

As any culturally aware person can attest, Donald Trump appealed to the most base, vile, rabid and offensive stereotypes as they have been traditionally ascribed to Black Americans. Historically, we have been viewed as lazy, violent, oversexed, (sexually predatory in the case of Black men), criminally inclined and other degenerate terms. To be sure, such vile, reductive, ahistorical, despicable rhetoric is nonsensical and false. Nonetheless, Trump is very astute to the fact that such a scurrilous and intellectually dishonest rhetoric appeals to his far right MAGA supporters, which is considerably, if not predominately, White Supremacist in their value system.

During his speech, Trump was surrounded by a few prominent Black leaders, including former Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson and Representative Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), and he was lauded by Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) in a speech before he arrived. Thus, the specter and spirit of intellectual dishonesty was rampant.

Despite all the nonsensical rhetoric and pandering that Donald Trump has recently engaged in to attract Black voters - to be more frank, a small segment of Black voters whom he believes will make the difference in his presidential election prospects - anyone, Black, non-white or otherwise, who would take verbal solace, affirmation and reassurance at being referred to as a criminal by an individual who has perennially engaged in rabid race bating and sinister racial politics is most likely a self-hating person who, from a political, social, and cultural standpoint, is a lost cause. Period!

BlackCommentator.com Guest

Commentator, Dr. Elwood Watson,

Historian, public speaker, and cultural

critic is a professor at East Tennessee

State University and author of the recent

book, Keepin' It Real: Essays on Race in

Contemporary America (University of

Chicago Press), which is available in

paperback and on Kindle via Amazon and

other major book retailers. Cotnact

Dr.Watson and BC.

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