Bankole: Trump’s America will validate racism

Bankole Thompson
The Detroit News

It is hard to believe that some in the Republican Party leadership, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, are in disbelief at Donald Trump’s latest racist diatribe against a sitting federal judge, Gonzalo Curiel. The judge is presiding over one of three class-action lawsuits brought against Trump University for allegedly defrauding its students of thousands of dollars.

“The comment about the judge the other day was out of left field for my mind,” Ryan told a Wisconsin radio station in the wake of the uproar about the comments. “It’s reasoning I don’t relate to. I completely disagree with the thinking behind that.”

As the media peppered him with questions about the issue, Ryan doubled down on the man he endorsed by saying, “Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment.”

Trump has taken issue with the Indiana-born Curiel, the son of Mexican immigrants, after he ordered the release of documents relating to the case. Trump, who kicked off his campaign calling Mexicans “rapists,” said Curiel “has a conflict of interest” because of his Mexican heritage.

Trump even suggested he would go after the judge when he is elected president.

“They ought to look into Judge Curiel, because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace. OK? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am president and come back and do a civil case? Where everybody likes it. OK. This is called life, folks,” Trump said on May 27 at a campaign rally in San Diego.

In typical Trump fashion, the candidate also said “it’s possible, absolutely” that Muslim judges, too, would be biased against him.

Many Republican leaders expressed shock at Trump’s latest attacks on the heritage of judges.

Where have these leaders been in the last eight months when Trump began his historic journey of using dog-whistle politics in attacking Mexicans, Muslims and other groups under his “Make America Great Again” campaign?

There is something foul in our political system when a leading contender for the highest office in the land can say that a federal judge’s heritage disqualifies him from performing his constitutional duties.

If Trump’s dangerous logic holds water does it also mean judges with Jewish heritage can’t hear anti-Semitic cases and that black judges should be disqualified from hearing racial discrimination lawsuits?

Trump needs schooling on judicial independence, a cornerstone of a democratic nation like the United States.

Trump also should be reminded that the United States is not a monarchy and as such he is not seeking a throne.

One of the most celebrated tenets of our democratic experience is the independence of the judiciary where judges are free to exercise their constitutional duties without fear or favor.

When noted black federal judge Damon Keith of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1972 ruled against then-President Richard Nixon’s warrantless wiretaps, and Keith’s decision was later upheld unanimously by the U.S. Supreme Court, it became one of the most landmark decisions ever handed down by the judiciary. That decision sent a strong message that a president is not above the law.

Instead of reining Trump in, some in the GOP are either moon-walking around the issue, tip-toeing or simply running away from his racist comments and at the same time backing their nominee. It must be difficult to stand behind a candidate whose views you are forced to reject every time he opens his mouth spewing what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called “interposition” and “nullification.”

Bankole Thompson is the host of “Redline with Bankole Thompson” on Super Station 910 AM Wednesdays and Fridays. His column appears Mondays and Thursdays.