What did Jemele Hill get wrong?

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Leonard Pitts Jr. Leonard Pitts is syn­di­cated for Tri­bune Con­tent Agency. Read­ers may con­tact him via e-mail at lpitts@mi­ami­her­ald.com.

Let’s con­sider the ev­i­dence. He was sued for sys­tem­at­i­cally re­fus­ing to rent to African Amer­i­cans and set­tled out of court.

He de­manded the death penalty for five black and His­panic kids charged in the no­to­ri­ous Cen­tral Park jog­ger rape case — and re­fuses to re­cant to this day, though the young men were long ago ex­on­er­ated and set free.

He had a dis­dain for African Amer­i­cans so pro­nounced that, ac­cord­ing to an em­ployee at one of his casi­nos, su­per­vi­sors would re­move black work­ers from the floor and en­sconce them in a back room when­ever he came through.

He was once quoted as say­ing of a black ac­coun­tant: “Black guys count­ing my money! I hate it. The only kind of peo­ple I want count­ing my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes ev­ery day. I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s prob­a­bly not his fault, be­cause lazi­ness is a trait in blacks. It re­ally is, I be­lieve that. It’s not any­thing they can con­trol.”

He retweeted racist and an­tiSemitic in­sults from Nazi sym­pa­thiz­ers, called Mex­i­can im­mi­grants “rapists” and said a judge was un­fit to pre­side over a case be­cause of his Mex­i­can her­itage.

He led the inane “birther” move­ment that claimed Pres­i­dent Obama was born in Kenya.

He sug­gested moral equiv­a­lence be­tween white su­prem­a­cists and those who op­pose them.

He is em­braced by big­ots, who rec­og­nize him as one of their own. Said for­mer Klan leader David Duke, “We are de­ter­mined to take our coun­try back . ... That’s what we be­lieve in. That’s why we voted for Don­ald Trump ...”

So what, pray tell, did Jemele Hill get wrong? Last week, the co-host of ESPN’s “Sport­sCen­ter” is­sued tweets call­ing the so-called pres­i­dent, among other things, “a white su­prem­a­cist who has largely sur­rounded him­self w/ other white su­prem­a­cists.”

You’d have thought she ad­vo­cated kinder­garten classes in Satanism from the speed with which ESPN dis­avowed her for what it called “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” tweets. Hill would even­tu­ally apol­o­gize for putting the com­pany in such an awk­ward po­si­tion. But ESPN’s re­sponse was mild com­pared to the White House’s re­buke. Spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders pro­nounced Hill’s tweets “a fire­able of­fense.”

Re­ally? Well, if Hill de­serves fir­ing for call­ing Trump a white su­prem­a­cist, then what does he get for ac­tu­ally be­ing one?

But we al­ready know the an­swer, don’t we? Don­ald John Trump is a man whose cog­ni­tive and moral deficits would, in a sane coun­try, ren­der him un­fit to clean toi­lets at a rea­son­ably re­spectable strip club. But he be­came pres­i­dent. And as Ta-Ne­hisi Coates ar­gues in the new is­sue of The At­lantic, he was elected largely be­cause of his racism — not de­spite it — hav­ing run on an im­plicit prom­ise to re­store white pri­macy af­ter eight years of the black in­ter­loper Obama.

And here, some­one will protest that she voted for Trump, but doesn’t con­sider her­self a white su­prem­a­cist. Yet that hy­po­thet­i­cal voter and 63 mil­lion oth­ers did vote — know­ingly — for white supremacy even if they dis­avow the ide­ol­ogy for them­selves. So what’s the ma­te­rial dif­fer­ence?

There is none. That’s a bit­ter truth some of us would pre­fer not to face, in­dict­ing as it does cher­ished myths about our­selves and our coun­try and how we over­came.

For the record, the only “fire­able of­fense” here is Trump’s im­per­son­ation of a pres­i­dent. But make no mis­take: Even if he is held ac­count­able in 2020, it won’t fix, or even ad­dress, that fright­ened, prim­i­tive thing in­side them that led so many to reach out to him in the first place.

So the fact of the mat­ter is, Jemele Hill got noth­ing wrong. No, she’s in trou­ble be­cause she did the op­po­site.

She told en­tirely too much truth.

For the record, the only “fire­able of­fense” here is Trump’s im­per­son­ation of a pres­i­dent. But make no mis­take: Even if he is held ac­count­able in 2020, it won’t fix, or even ad­dress, that fright­ened, prim­i­tive thing in­side them that led so many to reach out to him in the first place.

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