It is no surprise to most Americans that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has made yet another political misstep and refuses to take a step back to examine himself. Trump recently said that federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, a Mexican American born in Chicago and a graduate of Indiana University, is biased against him. Trump believes that he would not be fair to him because of his ancestry. According to Trump, his “race” (Please note: Mexican is not a race though some political commentators have described it as such.) disqualifies him from making sound decisions as it relates to the charges of fraud that Trump University faces. Trump believes that Judge Curiel would not give him a fair hearing because he plans to build a wall at the U.S.- Mexico border as his solution to immigration concerns.
Trump was given an opportunity to autocorrect himself in several interviews but instead doubled down, adding that he did not trust that a Muslim justice would give him a fair hearing either. At a rally in San Diego, he even turned the tables on the federal judge, labeling him as “a hater, a hater of Donald Trump.” Persons from his party to include Newt Gingrich have spoken out against him. Gingrich called his attack on the federal judge “inappropriate.”
But, I would expect nothing less from members of the media and his party, both of whom seek to appear progressive, tolerant and allies when it comes to diversity. It’s all about the ratings, the votes and of course, the money. But, they already know who Trump is and what he stands for. A story released yesterday from The Washington Post finds in two studies a connection between Trump’s rise in popularity and racial anxiety. So, why keep asking Trump to say what we want him to say? Why not say it ourselves?
There is a history of damaging and deadly proportions as it relates to the choice to be silent. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote about it from a Birmingham jail in August of 1963 and directly questioned the faith and witness of “white clergy” and the “white church.” He challenged those who questioned the necessity and timeliness of the movement. For those who wanted him to wait, he had this to say, “We must see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability.” Pastor Martin Niemoller learned this lesson perhaps during his seven years in a Nazi concentration camp:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Well, first Donald Trump came for the immigrants and you did not speak out– because you were not an immigrant.
Then Donald Trump came for women and you did not speak out– because you were not a woman.
Then Donald Trump came for persons of Mexican ancestry and you did not speak out– because you were not a Mexican.
Then Donald Trump came for Muslims and you did you not speak out– because you were not Muslim.
Then he came for you– and there was no one left to speak for you.
First, persons dismissed his bid for presidency. Next, they denied that he would become the presidential nominee. Now with votes in hand as the presumptive presidential nominee for the Republican party, it is not enough to denounce his words. I am not certain as to what persons were waiting for and what else they need to hear before they speak up, but I would suggest that you not wait for Donald Trump to say what needs to be said.