Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Glenn Tucker | Voters unleashed Trumpenstein

Published:Saturday | August 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMGlenn Tucker

The US media have been criticising President Donald Trump for refusing to condemn white supremacists for a terrorist attack that killed one woman and injured several other persons. The rally these persons were attending had many persons wearing Trump campaign memorabilia and included former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) grand wizard David Duke.

If there is any truth to the saying, 'a chip does not fall far from the block', Donald Trump's position can be understood.

Ninety years ago, on Memorial Day, 1927, in a rally similar to the one where this tragedy occurred last week, police tried to break up a demonstration by KKK members. Some refused, so the police decided to arrest them. Under one of these white hoods was Fred Trump, Donald's dad. Of course, the Donald Trump we know today just denies anything that he finds inconvenient.

But the 1930 US census lists a Fred Trump of 175-24 Devonshire Road, Jamaica, NY. And that's exactly what is in the police records.

For those too young to know, the KKK was an organisation that castrated, hanged and burnt black people alive. Sometimes they took their children along to watch.

But the Trumps' dislike of black people did not end there. They were landlords and made life very difficult for their black tenants who would not seek alternative accommodation. One of these stubborn tenants was Woody Guthrie, the celebrated songwriter who penned the American classic This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land. Fred Trump's treatment of his black tenants is what inspired many of Guthrie's lyrics.

In 1973, the US Department of Justice took the Trumps to court with a discrimination complaint after four employees claimed applicants for leases were screened by race.

About 1989, five coloured teens were arrested for abuse of a white girl in Central Park. Donald Trump jumped into action and successfully fanned the flames of racial resentment. He went into his own pocket and spent US$89,000 on full-page ads demanding reinstatement of the death penalty. When NY Mayor Ed Koch made a plea for peace, Donald Trump's response was: "Mayor Koch stated that 'hate and rancour must be removed from our hearts'. I do not think so."

The youth were sentenced but some time later released as they were excluded by DNA evidence. Trump was beside himself with anger. He declared, "These young men do not exactly have the past of angels."

In a 1991 book written by John O'Donnel, a former president of Trump Plaza Hotel, claimed that Trump visited one day and saw a black man in the accounts department. He nearly burst a blood vessel, declaring repeatedly, "... Black guys counting my money, I hate it!"

When he heard that Obama was a candidate for president, this was, for him, the last straw. His only consolation was that this could never happen. When it did, he launched a relentless campaign to smear the first African American president. Both he and his wife, were graduates of the prestigious Harvard Law School.

He claimed to have proof that Obama did not attend this institution, and that Obama was a poor student who "couldn't make the grade". Then he started the birther story, claiming that Obama was not born in the US and that he had persons investigating, "and you wouldn't believe what they are finding out".

What filled me with such pride is the personal and intellectual superiority of Obama in ignoring these nasty racial jabs and the grace he and his family demonstrated when they prepared the White House to accommodate this insecure, racist thug.

Today, Trump is going to ridiculous extremes to remove all traces of the Obama legacy.

His campaign promises to build a wall and make immigration more difficult, are just further attempts to keep out coloured people. He has successfully convinced the uneducated and unemployed that blacks and immigrants are the source of their problems.

But we must never forget that none of this should be news to his countrymen. He gave ample warning, during the campaign, what he was like and what he would do. The people had a clear choice. Yet this is the man Americans chose to lead them.

- Glenn Tucker is an educator and sociologist. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and glenntucker2011@gmail.com.