The point Trump should have made

Judge Curiel’s bias, not his eth­nic­ity, is what may be sus­pect

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Don­ald Trump paints with a broad brush that soils the tar­get of his in­vec­tive, oth­ers in the gen­eral prox­im­ity — and him­self. His com­ment that a judge can­not fairly ad­ju­di­cate a law­suit against him be­cause he’s of Mex­i­can her­itage is ev­i­dence of a tongue out of con­trol.

The pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee’s re­marks are a match for the loose talk of pro-Mex­ico ac­tivists when, in phys­i­cally at­tack­ing Trump sup­port­ers, they trash the dream that pulled them north of the Rio Grande in the first place. It’s not fash­ion­able to say that, with the Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment, fright­ened as usual, run­ning for their lives. But it’s true.

There was a le­git­i­mate point that Mr. Trump could have made — that U.S. District Judge Gon­zalo Curiel’s record of in­volve­ment with a rad­i­cal His­panic-rights ad­vo­cacy group sug­gests bias — but he crossed the line with his claim that Judge Curiel as an eth­nic Mex­i­can is not fit to hear a class-ac­tion law­suit against his Trump Uni­ver­sity. The judge was born in In­di­ana, which makes him as Amer­i­can as the Don­ald and ev­ery other Amer­i­can, and there­fore, all things be­ing equal, he’s per­fectly qual­i­fied to hear the law­suit.

But all things are never equal. The is­sue, as Mr. Trump could have pre­sented it, is not the judge’s His­panic eth­nic­ity but his af­fil­i­a­tion with La Raza Lawyers of San Diego, which raises le­git­i­mate ques­tions about his abil­ity to be im­par­tial. La Raza, which trans­lates to “the race,” has ad­vo­cated rad­i­cal im­mi­grant rights for decades. Judge Curiel’s mem­ber­ship and ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in its lob­by­ing sug­gests the ap­pear­ance of a con­flict of in­ter­est in the Trump Uni­ver­sity law­suit. In an op-ed es­say in The Wash­ing­ton Post, Al­berto Gon­za­les, the U.S. at­tor­ney gen­eral in the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion and the high­est-rank­ing His­panic-Amer­i­can ever in the gov­ern­ment, agrees with Mr. Trump that Judge Curiel’s “cir­cum­stances, while not nec­es­sar­ily con­clu­sive, at least raise a le­git­i­mate ques­tion to be con­sid­ered.”

The mil­i­tant open-bor­ders ad­vo­cates who op­pose Mr. Trump’s views on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion paint a halo above the heads of ev­ery demon­stra­tor against him. The ca­sual viewer of the tele­vi­sion im­ages beamed from the streets, sees some­thing else, de­pic­tions of Mex­i­cans wav­ing the Mex­i­can flag at Trump cam­paign ral­lies while other demon­stra­tors burn the Stars and Stripes, young Lati­nos hurl­ing curses at passersby, and His­panic chil­dren with signs de­mand­ing “Make Amer­ica Mex­ico again.”

The Chi­cano rights move­ment of the 1960s has evolved far be­yond any­thing Ce­sar Chavez dreamed of, with his plea for bet­ter con­di­tions for grape har­vesters and other farm work­ers. Bul­lies sucker-punch­ing Trump sup­port­ers come from the ranks of pro­fes­sional ag­i­ta­tors who are out to bury the Amer­i­can her­itage be­neath a wave of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. The myth of Amer­ica “stolen” from Mex­ico as spoils of the Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can War is re­flected in signs like one at an anti-Trump riot last week in San Jose, Calif., read­ing: “Trump, This is Mex­ico! You’re not wel­come on Na­tive/Mex­i­can soil.”

Judge Curiel is not re­spon­si­ble for the ri­ots against Don­ald Trump, but he is re­spon­si­ble for his con­tin­ued mem­ber­ship in a His­panic-rights ad­vo­cacy group that en­cour­ages Mex­i­can im­mi­grants to flaunt their con­tempt for the na­tion they say they want to be­come a part of. Judge Curiel has a right to his mem­ber­ship in La Raza, just as a judge of Scot­tish or Pol­ish or French an­ces­try would have a right to mem­ber­ship in an or­ga­ni­za­tion called White Folks Lawyers of San Diego. But pe­ti­tion­ers for jus­tice in his court would be en­ti­tled to their opin­ion of his bias.

This is the per­fectly le­git­i­mate point that Don­ald Trump could have made.

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