What Trump Did This MLK Day Proves He’s a Racist, No Matter What He Says
President Donald J. Trump teed-off on Sunday night. In the wake of the controversy swirling around his “shithole countries” remark (and the “he said” /”he never said” aftermath), the president sought to reassure Americans on the eve of the Martin Luther King holiday that his opinion of a person does not depend on skin color.
“No, no, I’m not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you,” Trump insisted.
Never one to play alone, President Trump’s ex-wife Ivana joined him in this round of denials by adding that while the President may say “silly” things, he is “definitely not racist.” Here is a pointer for anyone reading this who might not be adept at spotting a racist. When they preface a statement with, “I am not a racist, but…” or when they say something overtly racist but add the disclaimer, “…not that I am a racist or anything,” you can be pretty sure they are a racist.
But it’s not just what President Trump says that matters. It’s also what he does. Because, as the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words. And so does inaction.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, founded the King Center and served as its first president. She lobbied for the commemoration of her late husband’s life and contributions to not simply be another federal holiday. The best way to honor Dr. King’s legacy was not with a “day off” but a “day on” spent performing community service. This was not to be a day for picnics, pools, and other leisure activities. This was to be a day for good deeds, and civic works. Most critically, it was so important to the King legacy this day become an “American holiday” with all races and religions participating in the positive change, and not a “black holiday” to honor a civil rights hero.
As he often does, President Trump implored Americans to “do as I say, not as I do” when he urged Americans in a White House proclamation signed last Friday to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with acts of “civic work and community service.” Trump, however, had no such events on the calendar. President Trump’s unwillingness to volunteer on the Martin Luther King holiday is yet another break from the traditions (many of them positive and bipartisan) of the Presidency.
Then-President Bill Clinton signed legislation in 1994 specifically designating the MLK holiday a national day of service. Through the years, Clinton and his family spent time painting walls in schools and senior centers and aiding AmeriCorps volunteers.
While former President George W. Bush did not volunteer as frequently (perhaps owing to the increased security in the years following 9/11), he still found ways to celebrate the holiday by attending events or cultural services or by hosting celebrants at the White House.
Former President Barack Obama and his family made community service on the holiday an annual event, whether painting public buildings in need like the Clintons had done or volunteering in a soup kitchen.
What was President Trump doing to celebrate the 2018 holiday? He was at his Mar-a-Lago club, golfing, and lining his pockets with taxpayer money for everything from hotel rooms to golf carts. For those not keeping count at home, thankfully someone is, and according to Trump Golf Count this was the 91st time Trump has taken to the links since his inauguration. In fact, CNN estimates that President Trump has spent at least one third of his presidency at his various properties. There are 365 days in a year, and we are 5 days away from the one year anniversary, and he’s gone golfing at least 91 times. You do the math.
Despite his denials (and those from his apologists, and others seeking his approval or favors), President Trump proved his racism yet again today by not properly observing the holiday in the tradition of past Presidents or in the spirit the holiday was intended. Sure, he held a ceremony and made a proclamation before skipping town for Florida. Apparently though, he forgot presidents get their hands dirty once in a while. Good presidents get their hands dirty every chance they get, working side-by-side with their own families and families in need, of all races and religions.
President Trump not only snubbed African-Americans in need this Martin Luther King holiday, he snubbed his own supporters who gave him their votes in exchange for his promises of help. Surely there were volunteer projects in coal country or the Rust Belt where Trump and his family could have lent a hand?
But no, that is not the Trump way. Menial labor is for the working class, or for servants. A Trump does not work alongside commoners and they sure do not get their hands dirty.
No, the Trump way — as we saw again today — is to tweet attacks with racist overtones, and go golfing. Trump did both this MLK Day, by the way.
Maybe there was confusion when Trump heard there was a holiday for a “King” on Monday? With all the ceremonies and proclamations and servants, perhaps he forgot America is not a monarchy and that he is not king? That or he is just lazy and selfish.
Featured image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.