Another Classic Moment in Presidential Lack of Self-Awareness

One of the exonerated defendants in the Central Park Five case hit President Trump for his tweet about lives “being shattered” by “a mere allegation,” saying that Trump had rushed to judgment in claiming he and the other defendants were guilty of a brutal 1989 attack and rape. Yusef Salaam, one of the men who was wrongfully convicted of the crime and later exonerated, noted that Trump had quickly taken out a full-page ad in The New York Times calling for the return of the death penalty after news of the assault gripped the nation. “Here you had Donald Trump taking out a full-page ad, two weeks in, rushing to judgment. Finding out 13 years later after he did all that that we were actually not the real culprits,” Salaam said…. Salaam, who was 15 at the time of his wrongful conviction, said he and the other defendants’ lives “were completely destroyed and devastated.” Trump was one of the most vocal figures at the time saying they were guilty. “Any kind of dream or idea or goal that we had in life was quickly erased by this accusation,” Salaam said.

It’s sad, really. America has become so inured to daily confirmation of Donald Trump’s epic lack of self-awareness that it no longer even attracts attention. The latest episode- Trump decrying the lack of due process for men accused of domestic violence- amounts to just another brick in the wall.

This is our new normal. Hypocrisy, naked self-interest, and world-class lack of self-awareness no longer even move the needle. We’ve become so collectively benumbed to this sad, sick reality that we can no longer keep up…and so we’ve given up.

Can you imagine how this would have played out if Barack Obama was still President? (It wouldn’t, of course, but work with me) The Right-wing torches and pitchforks brigades would have been out in force from sea to shining sea. The hue and cry, the weeping and gnashing of teeth in righteous outrage would have ground government to a halt. Republicans would have been falling all over themselves fighting for the microphone in order to vociferously and righteously denounce the President.

The breathless demands that The Black Guy [who used to be] in the White House © resign YESTERDAY would’ve dominated every news cycle until he did the right thing and stepped down.

“How DARE this President ignore the plight of women dealing with domestic violence? WHY WON’T HE PROTECT VULNERABLE WOMEN AND CONDEMN THOSE WHO PREY ON THEM?”

Why, indeed…but that’s a question Republicans should be directing at Donald Trump. Except that they’re not. Nary a voice has been raised against him…because he’s one of their own. It’s a particular sick and twisted interpretation of Reagan’s Law: “One shall not speak ill of another Republican.” Especially if it could potentially imperil one’s political future.

It’s interesting- and extremely distressing- that Trump is now all fired up about men being denied “due process.” A reasonable person might wonder where that concern was in 1989 during the Central Park Five case.

Four young African-Americans and one Hispanic male were railroaded into convictions for a horrific gang rape they didn’t commit. Not that Trump was concerned about due process, of course- he KNEW the accused were GUILTYGUILTYGUILTY. He took out full-page newspaper ads advocating they be executed for the attack. “Due process” wasn’t even part of his thought process at that time.

On April 19, 1989, a 28-year-old white woman was viciously assaulted and raped while jogging through Central Park. Police arrested five teenagers, four black and one Hispanic, who were all found guilty.

The group initially confessed to the crime, but insist that their confessions were coerced after being interrogated by police for two days. They were exonerated in 2002, when an already-incarcerated rapist and murderer confessed to the crime.

Trump said in 2016 that he still believes that the Central Park Five are guilty despite another man confessing to the crime and police having no DNA evidence linking the group to the scene.

Or is “due process” is something only powerful White men should expect to be granted, while African-American males have no right to the same consideration?

To deny the clear and obvious racism behind Trump’s actions and statements is to ignore the elephant in the room. He’s all about demanding “due process” for powerful White men…but keeps his powder dry when it comes to Black or Brown People.

Sixty-three million Americans will deny to their dying day that they’re racist. Yet they voted for a man who wears his racism on his sleeve. He speaks in racist code and uses racist dog whistles and vehemently denies the racism in his heart.

You may deny being racist all you want…but if you voted for Donald Trump, you were well aware of his beliefs. No lucid person could have missed his clear and unmistakable racism. If you voted him, then yes, you’re a racist.

Nice work, America.

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