Donald Trump Jr. has something to say to anyone who thinks his father, President Trump, is a racist.
“You know it’s amazing — all the rappers, all his African American friends, from Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, have pictures with him,” Donald Trump Jr. told the Daily Caller in an interview released this week, when asked by interviewer Ginni Thomas — wife of Justice Clarence Thomas — about “the left’s efforts to frame [his] dad and anyone who supports [the president] as a hater, as a racist, as a fascist.”
Such talk does a “real disservice … to those people who are actually oppressed and hurt by real racism, real sexism,” Trump Jr. added, saying that it had “lost its effect because it’s been numbing to people.”
“I know him [the president], I’ve seen him my whole life, I’ve seen the things he’s done,” he said. “…It was only till he got into politics that all of a sudden they say, ‘oh [Trump is] the most terrible human being.’ Oh, I don’t know he wasn’t so terrible a couple years ago when you’re at his events. It wasn’t so terrible then when you’re hitting him up for charity dollars and he’s sponsoring things–sponsoring scholarships and doing XYZ for you guys.”
Putting aside the fact that taking photos with rappers and civil rights leaders for publicity reasons a couple decades ago is hardly proof someone isn’t racist, Trump has said and done some patently racist things in his lifetime — both before and after taking office.
In 1973, Trump was sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination against African-Americans. He began his presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists.” In May 2016, he said a judge presiding over a case involving Trump University could not be fair because the judge was Mexican-American. At a June 2016 campaign rally in Redding, California, Trump pointed to one attendee, in the middle of his speech, and said, “Look at my African-American over there!”
After being criticized for that remark, Trump responded by retweeting a fake photo of Black supporters. BuzzFeed later revealed that the image Trump had posted was among the first results returned in a Google search of “Black families,” and that the original image was from a 2015 WCPO-TV article about a “Midwest Black Family Reunion.”
Trump won the 2016 election in part because of racial resentment. Since taking office, he has proposed, among other things, a particularly racist immigration policy, saying in June last year that Haitians “all have AIDS” and that Nigerians would never “go back to their huts” after visiting the United States. In front of a group of Native American veterans, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas.”
When speaking about Haitian, El Salvadoran, and African immigrants this past January, he asked a bipartisan group of lawmakers, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” The statement was so glaringly bald-faced that much of the mainstream media actually labeled the president an outright racist. Neo-Nazi factions, by contrast, praised him.
In the wake of that controversy, rather than apologizing for the remark or chastising those defending racism, Trump dug in his heels, telling reporters “I’m the least racist person you will ever interview.”
None of this has stopped the president’s ultra-conservative supporters from digging through the archives to try and disprove claims that Trump is racist. Right-wing websites like the Daily Wire and NewsMax last month seized on a 1998 video of reverend and activist Jesse Jackson praising Trump for his service to African Americans. Jackson said in January that Trump’s “shithole” comments were a “source of shame for our nation.”
Now, Trump Jr., supposedly on the other side of a strong firewall between his father’s administration and his father’s business, has waded into the fray as well, arguing against claims that his father is racist by posting photos of Trump with Black public figures, including Baptist minister and activist Al Sharpton.
Sharpton, for his part, responded the Trump Jr.’s claims in an interview with MSNBC Tuesday night. “We haven’t changed,” Sharpton said. “[Trump] changed. And what he’s changed to become is one who has proposed some of the most racist, bigoted policies… He is promoting racism.”
Additionally, Kanye West, one of the rappers Trump Jr. referred to during his Daily Caller interview, has since said he was “super unhappy” with Trump shortly after his controversial meeting with the then-president-elect at Trump Tower during the White House transition. West said that Trump lost his support during the president’s first two weeks in office, after he signed a racist immigration order that banned immigrants and travelers from several Muslim-majority nations.