Sometimes you wonder if the editorial writers for The Gray Lady ever read the rest of their newspaper. A front page story in last week’s New York Times described Donald Trump’s Tampa office as a “melting pot” of racial and ethnic diversity. The campaign workers include a young woman who recently arrived from Peru; an immigrant from the Philippines; a 70-year-old Lakota Indian; a teenage son of Russian immigrants; a Mexican-American.
Yet on that same day, back on the editorial page, the writers write as if they were in another universe. Charles Blow was apoplectic over the fact that Ben Carson (probably the most revered icon in the black community) “endorsed one of the most dangerous and divisive demagogues in recent presidential election history.”
Paul Krugman, who only a few days earlier claimed that that “Donald Trump … promises to make America white again,” rose to a new level of hyperbole with this zinger: “The G.O.P. has spent decades encouraging and exploiting the very rage that is now carrying Mr. Trump to the nomination.” Trump, says Krugman, is not only a racist, he is the creation of the Republican Party, which thrives on racist sentiment by persuading ordinary people “to vote Republican out of rage against Those People” [Krugman’s habitual term for how he imagines Republicans refer to blacks].
Yet if the Trump campaign is fueled by racism, New York Times reporter David Barstow didn’t find even a hint of it among the Trump workers he interviewed. Not only is Trump’s Tampa office the epitome of multiculturalism, the campaign staff ranges the political spectrum. It includes lifelong Democrats, independents, libertarians and conservative Republicans. According to Barstow, every staffer he talked to condemned and even ridiculed David Duke and other white supremacists who have noisily backed Mr. Trump.
As I noted in the last election cycle, it is the Democratic Party – not the Republican Party – that has persistently engaged in overt race baiting and, predictably, they do it in every election. Here are just a few examples from the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Washington Times:
· Harry Reid’s Super PAC ran ads on black radio that accused Republicans of supporting the type of gun law that “caused the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.”
· A flyer from Democrats in Georgia pictured black toddlers holding signs that read “Don’t Shoot.” Produced by the state Democratic Party, the flyer urged people to vote to “prevent another Ferguson.”
· At a black church in Fayetteville, NC, leaflets with a grainy image of a lynching appeared, warning voters that if Democratic senatorial candidate Kay Hagan lost, President Obama would be impeached.
· In Alabama, campaign materials aimed at getting out the black vote featured references to lynchings, Jim Crow-era signs, racial unrest and the Ku Klux Klan.
For many more examples see, “Democrats Discover Race Baiting,” “A Tale of Two Cities: Lessons from Michigan,” and “Race Baiting, Polarization and the Attacks on Donald Trump.”
By the way, Republicans are often accused of using “code words” to stir up racial fears and antagonisms. Democrats rarely ever use code words – some of their voters might miss the point. As the above examples show, when Democrats set out to stir up racial animosity, they don’t bother with nuance or subtlety.
As for Donald Trump, his lifelong personal history suggests just the opposite of what the New York Times critics allege. As I wrote in my last column, Palm Beach, Florida has a notoriously ugly history of discrimination against Jews, blacks and other minorities that goes back for decades. Yet when Trump opened his Mar-a-Lago Club there, he announced that membership would be open to everyone – an act that apparently so displeased the city elders and that a nasty zoning fight ensued. (See this Washington Post account.)
As we go to press, yesterday’s New York Times lead editorial brings us one more example of race baiting. Under the title “The Racism at the Heart of Flint’s Crisis,” the editorial uses the terms “black,” “African American,” “race,” “poor and black,” and “poor and minority” on six occasions and uses the word “Republican” four times – despite the fact that there has been no finding by any investigation that race was a factor in any decision or that bureaucrats who vote Republican were any more responsible than bureaucrats who vote Democrat.
The editorial goes on to mention other examples where poor and minority families have suffered disproportionately from environmental degradation: New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, chemical spills in West Virginia and lead contamination Washington, D.C. Yet it never once uses the term “Democrat,” even though Democrats were in control in each of the examples named.
Truth be known, in communities with the worst schools and the worst environmental degradation and the most harmful restrictions on the right to work, the decisions are almost always being made by Democrats. But this reality doesn’t fit the message the New York Times wants to communicate in an election year.