Reprinted with permission from Creators.
In June 2016, Omarosa Manigault Newman made this prediction about her boss, presidential candidate Donald Trump:
“Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, whoever disagreed, whoever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”
Yes, she said that.
In that same interview, Manigault Newman, who is black, shrugged off Trump’s racist depiction of Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. “That announcement will go down as the greatest announcement for presidency in the history of political politics,” she said. As for his comments about immigrants? “I said: ‘He’s at it again. Donald’s being Donald.’ And it worked.”
Yes, she said that.
Last December, Manigault Newman was fired by the White House. In the ensuing months, she summoned all of the lessons she learned from Trump during her time on “The Apprentice” and used them against him. Her new book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” depicts the president as an out-of-control racist and misogynist who is increasingly untethered from reality. She has audio recordings of White House conversations, which she is leaking one at a time, and says she also has audio proof of Trump using the N-word.
Her book is variously being described as a tell-all, a work of fiction, a betrayal and a desperate attempt to redeem herself for her complicity in his presidency. Critics on the left and the right and a whole chunk of the middle are calling her a liar, an opportunist and an attention whore. Those are the nicer words.
Yes, Manigault Newman’s motives are suspect, and her character is questionable, and her every story about the Trump administration may be riddled with lies.
What matters is Trump’s response.
This week, the president of the United States called Omarosa Manigault Newman a “dog.”
Linda-Susan Beard is the director of Africana studies at Bryn Mawr College. As she explained to The New York Times, we have a long history here in the United States of racists comparing black women to dogs.
“He’s drawing on a history of discourse that is so hate-filled and so historic that it all came together in these (35) words,” she said, describing Trump’s tweet about Manigault Newman. “The statement is brilliant in its ability to do double duty: to offer an attack that is simultaneously racialized and gendered.”
Predictably, some white people — mostly men, I’ve noticed — are insisting on social media that Trump’s “dog” pejorative had nothing to do with race. To which I say, Down boys. Sit.
Since his inauguration, Trump has made clear his animosity for black people. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and it is long past time that more white Americans named it.
As one of my friends put it, “What is the term when the dog whistle can be heard by everyone?”
Trump has referred to some African nations as “shithole countries.” Earlier this month, he called CNN’s Don Lemon “the dumbest man on television” and then attacked the intelligence of LeBron James, too, claiming that Lemon makes James “look smart, which isn’t easy to do.” This was right after the opening of James’ new public school in Akron for children at risk and their parents.
Trump has repeatedly attacked Rep. Maxine Waters, a black woman, by asserting that she has a “low IQ.” After last year’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed, Trump refused to back down from his claim that there were “very fine people on both sides.” He is back to attacking black NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality in America.
It doesn’t matter what we think of any of these recipients of Trump’s rage. What matters is that he is attacking them because of their race. We should denounce them every time, regardless of how we feel about his targets.
This week, The Washington Post published a story online with this headline: “White House press secretary can’t guarantee public won’t hear Trump use n-word on audio recording.”
My God. From President Barack Obama to this.
We don’t need a recording to prove what we already know about this president, and those of us who are white have to pick a side. We either are allies of our black fellow Americans or are not, and there’s no pretending it doesn’t matter.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (email@example.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.