OPINION – Donald Trump insults an entire race of people and his popularity increases.
He insults one old, white man, and his bid for the presidential nomination is on the rocks.
What does this say about racism in the United States?
Trump fired a low-trajectory volley of ignorance when, in announcing his intention to seek the Republican Party’s nomination to run for the Presidency, he steeped his campaign on immigration, aiming his sights south of the border.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best; they’re not sending you,” Trump said during his announcement speech. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
I know some good and decent conservatives, long-standing members of the Republican Party who, I am sure, he does not represent.
However, the billionaire real estate mogul picked up momentum for his campaign, even when he refused to back down from his statements, insisting, instead, that they “were correct.”
He lost a few bucks when sponsors and those who carry his line of products severed ties, but that’s about all. And, it didn’t seem to bother his supporters when it was pointed out that his complaints about U.S. jobs being shipped overseas were hollow because, well, items of his clothing line have consistently been made in China, Vietnam, and, you guessed it, Mexico.
But, when he took a potshot at Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the foundation of the house that Trump built began to crumble.
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said at Saturday’s Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa. “He’s a war hero because he was captured.”
He poured kerosene on the flames when he added, “I like people that weren’t captured.”
The Family Leadership Summit was a day-long gathering of approximately 3,000 social conservative activists.
The comments drew immediate censure from the other GOP candidates, as well as the Republican National Committee, which also criticized Trump and defended McCain.
“Senator McCain is an American hero because he served his country and sacrificed more than most can imagine. Period,” RNC Chief Strategist and Communications Director Sean Spicer said in a statement. “There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably.”
Now, politically, I am a world apart from McCain. I can’t think of a single issue we agree on.
However, I would never disparage McCain’s military record.
McCain was aboard the USS Forrestal on July 29, 1967, when a Zuni rocket was accidentally discharged from under the wing of an F-4B Phantom II fighter. The accident resulted in multiple explosions and fire aboard the aircraft carrier. There were 134 men killed and 161 more injured in the incident. McCain sustained injuries in his legs and chest from fragments created by the explosion.
Three months later, while flying his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam, his A-4E Skyhawk was shot down over Hanoi.
McCain fractured both arms and a leg when he ejected from the aircraft, nearly drowned when he landed in Truc Bach Lake, had his shoulder crushed when a North Vietnamese soldier struck him with a rifle butt, and suffered a bayonet stab wound.
He received treatment in a Vietnamese hospital, then was taken to the Hoa Lo Prison, nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton, where he was a prisoner of war enduring 5 ½ years of torture.
Trump’s comments about McCain were clearly out of line and deserving of the chastisement he has received at the hands of the RNC and other presidential hopefuls.
But, so were his disparaging remarks about Mexico and its people.
There are some who think the whole Trump campaign is a joke.
In fact, the liberal news aggregator, The Huffington Post, decided late last week that all future coverage of Trump’s campaign would be relegated to its entertainment section, which really did little except hold the HuffPost’s credibility to a harsher light. Trump, like him or not, is a legitimate candidate and should be covered as such.
And, as a legitimate candidate, his words and actions are subject to the deepest scrutiny and vetting.
Which is why it is so disconcerting that this guy’s racists comments have not scuttled him in the public’s eye.
In late May, 65 percent of Republicans viewed him unfavorably. However, after officially jumping into the race and making his anti-Mexico statements, a whopping 57 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of him, according to Washington Post-ABC News polls.
That’s a heck of a flip that can only be attributed to Trump’s racist spewing.
The greater population, thankfully, has a dim view of this guy, with 61 percent finding him unfavorable while 33 percent find him favorable.
We’ve got a long way to go – about 16 months – before we cast our ballots for a new president and, as we have seen, the early numbers don’t always hold through the campaign.
And, as somebody rooted on the other end of the whacky political spectrum, I should be happy to see how these early numbers are falling, but I’m not.
I would like to see a viable, respectable contender emerge from the Republican ranks, one who can stimulate thought and debate; one who could engage us; one who, even if my candidate loses, I can still be proud of instead of a guy who would ride a wave of hate and racism into the Oval Office.
We deserve better.
The world deserves better.
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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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