Crit­ics as­sail Trump’s in­sults to­ward blacks

The Buffalo News - - FRONT PAGE - By David Naka­mura WASH­ING­TON POST

PARIS – Pres­i­dent Trump’s ver­bal as­saults against black re­porters, can­di­dates and law­mak­ers has re­newed crit­i­cism that the pres­i­dent em­ploys in­sults rooted in racist tropes aimed at mak­ing his African-Amer­i­can tar­gets ap­pear un­in­tel­li­gent, un­trust­wor­thy and un­qual­i­fied.

Over the past sev­eral days, in­clud­ing be­fore he left Wash­ing­ton for an Ar­mistice Day cer­e­mony here this week­end, Trump has launched per­sonal at­tacks against a trio of black fe­male jour­nal­ists. He ac­cused one of ask­ing “a lot of stupid ques­tions.” He de­manded an­other “sit down” at a news con­fer­ence and fol­lowed up later by call­ing her a “loser.” He lam­basted a third for ask­ing, in his view, a “racist ques­tion.”

Trump re­cently called Demo­cratic Tal­la­has­see Mayor An­drew Gil­lum, a gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date in Florida, a “thief,” and de­clared that Stacey Abrams, the for­mer mi­nor­ity leader of the state Se­nate in Ge­or­gia and the Demo­cratic can­di­date for gover­nor there, was “not qual­i­fied” for the job. A fea­ture of his cam­paign ral­lies ahead of Tues­day’s elec­tions was mock­ing Rep. Max­ine Wa­ters, D-Calif., a black law­maker who has been highly crit­i­cal of him, and call­ing her a “low-IQ per­son.”

Trump’s sup­port­ers say he fights all op­po­nents with equal gusto, and he has gone af­ter other re­porters in an es­ca­la­tion of his war against the me­dia since emerg­ing from a bruis­ing midterm elec­tion - most no­tably strip­ping the White House pass of CNN’s Jim Acosta.

But the pres­i­dent’s rhetoric to­ward prom­i­nent African-Amer­i­cans is be­ing sin­gled out as far more of­fen­sive.

“His sup­port­ers are right, he does at­tack ev­ery­one. That’s clearly true,” said Adia Har­vey Wing­field, a so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity in St. Louis who writes fre­quently about race and gen­der.

“But there’s also a clear com­mon­al­ity in the at­tacks he lev­els against peo­ple of color and black pro­fes­sion­als. Th­ese are straight out of his­toric play­books about black work­ers and pro­fes­sion­als in par­tic­u­lar - not be­ing qual­i­fied, not be­ing in­tel­li­gent or hav­ing what it takes to suc­ceed in a pre­dom­i­nantly white en­vi­ron­ment.”

The lat­est ex­am­ple came Fri­day when the pres­i­dent stopped on the South Lawn of the White House on his way to Marine One to field shouted ques­tions from the as­sem­bled me­dia. He was asked sev­eral ques­tions about the role of Matthew Whi­taker, who he ap­pointed as act­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral Wed­nes­day, as well as about sev­eral other top­ics.

But when Abby Phillip, a CNN cor­re­spon­dent, asked whether Trump wanted Whi­taker to rein in the spe­cial coun­sel’s on­go­ing Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, he snapped.

“What a stupid ques­tion that is,” Trump replied to Phillip, who is black. “What a stupid ques­tion,” he re­peated, point­ing his fin­ger at her. “But I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid ques­tions.”

The at­tack prompted an out­pour­ing of sup­port from fel­low jour­nal­ists, Democrats and oth­ers for Phillip, who pre­vi­ously cov­ered the White House for the Wash­ing­ton Post. Many praised her for ask­ing the most im­por­tant and per­ti­nent ques­tion of the day.

But Trump’s sup­port­ers rev­eled in the ex­change, hold­ing it up as an ex­am­ple of Trump show­ing his tor­men­tors who is the boss.

“If you ask stupid ques­tions, be pre­pared for @realDon­aldTrump to call you out. #MAGA,” Har­lan Z. Hill, a Repub­li­can op­er­a­tive and com­men­ta­tor, wrote on Twit­ter.

CNN’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions depart­ment de­fended Phillip, say­ing that “she asked the most per­ti­nent ques­tion of the day. The @realDon­aldTrump’s per­sonal in­sults are noth­ing new. And never sur­pris­ing.”

Trump also has dis­par­aged his for­mer aide Omarosa Mani­gault New­man as a “dog” af­ter she wrote a tell-all book that ac­cused him of us­ing racist lan­guage.

Trump has as­sem­bled a largely white ros­ter of se­nior ad­vis­ers. Sec­re­tary of Hous­ing and Ur­ban Devel­op­ment Ben Car­son is the only African Amer­i­can among the Cab­i­net and se­nior White House staff.

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