Wednesday, April 26, 2017
BIRDS OF A FEATHER RANT #4
Once the ever-ambitious Don the Con moved his operations to Manhattan, the housing discrimination charges ceased, perhaps because denying multi-million dollar coops and condos to people of color just ain’t the way to make money. There were Japanese buyers in the 80’s and 90’s, Arabs in the 2000’s, Chinese in the present. Not to mention African and Russian oligarchs fresh from looting their respective nations. So you’d think, in light of Trump’s determined efforts to maintain a high profile, he’d shy away from an issue that had already tainted the family name, avoiding the near occasions of sin no matter what his actual beliefs. He didn’t.
In 2015, a former worker at Trump Castle, Kip Brown, told a Nick Paumgarten, a journalist writing for The New Yorker, “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor. It was the eighties, I was a teenager, but I remember it.”
Because the interview with Kip Brown occurred many years ago and no other employee has come forth to confirm the accusation, I wouldn’t ordinarily include the quote in this posting. But about the same time, a series of incidents at one of Trump’s casinos reinforce Mr. Brown’s accusation.
Robert LiButti was a mobbed-up high roller with alleged ties to John Gotti, ties that got him banned from the tables in Atlantic City. That was shortly before he went to jail for tax evasion. LiButti was also among the highest of the high-rollers who frequented the Plaza in the 1980’s. Anything he wanted, he got. Believe me.
In 1991, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission began an investigation of the casino after nine Trump Plaza employees came forward with a complaint. According to these workers, the Plaza’s management rearranged employee work schedules to keep black and female employees away from tables where LiButti played. The employees claimed that LiButti abused them in tirades that included goodies like “cunt” and “black bastard” and “Jew bitch”. It got so awful that (rather than protect their employees) African-Americans and female staff were ordered to stay clear of LiButti’s table. Problem solved.
The Commission duly investigated, then fined the Trump Casino $200,000 for discrimination. Their report is available to the public and confirms the employees’ accounts. Don the Con, of course, denied knowing LiButti, but then a videotape of Trump and LiButti at a WWF event surfaced. They were sitting side-by-side, the best of buddies. LiButti’s wife also came forward. It seemed that she, her husband and Trump had socialized many times. It seemed that LiButti often flew from New York to Atlantic City on Trump’s helicopter. It seemed that Robert and Don had dickered back-and-forth on the purchase of a racehorse.
In 1991, March Bowden, former COO of the Trump Plaza casino, published a book entitled The Inside Story of Donald Trump. In it he describes a face-to-face meeting with his boss. Trump enquired, at one point, about unsatisfactory employees, which caught Bowden by surprise.
I told him no one. But he went down a list of names until we got to a finance employee of Trump Plaza, who happened to be black.
“What do you think of him?” Donald asked.
I said I was familiar with his abilities, and he had shortcomings. “To be honest,” I said. “I’d like to see him either come up to speed where he can help me a lot more, or maybe there’s something else he can do.”
Instantly, Donald was enthused. “Yeah, I never liked the guy. I don’t think he knows what the fuck he’s doing. My accountants up in New York are always complaining about him. He’s not responsive. And isn’t it funny. I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money. I hate it! The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. Those are the kind of people I want counting my money. Nobody else.”
I couldn’t believe I was hearing this. But Donald went on, “Besides that, I’ve got to tell you something else. I think the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control….”
Nuff said. The statement is out-and-out racist, no punches pulled, take that, motherfucker. Just the kind of talk, when you think about it, likely to capture the attention of white supremacists like those I quoted in an earlier posting. And it should be noted that years later, in a 1999 interview for Playboy, Donald told Mark Bowden that “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”
On May 1, 1989, less than two weeks after Ellen Meili was assaulted in Central Park while jogging, Donald Trump took out a full-page ad in the Daily News. BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY the banner at the top proclaimed. Donald then called for the execution of the perpetrators, five young men, four of them juveniles. But not necessarily by the state. About two-thirds of the way through, in all caps, Trump declared: CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!
For all its brutality, Ellen Meili survived the attack. The crime was aggravated rape. Now, I ask you, where in this country were black men accused of sexual assault on a white woman routinely executed with reckless disregard for their civil liberties? Lynching is what it’s called and the question is purely rhetorical. In fact, between the end of Reconstruction in 1869 and the early 1930’s, more than 3,000 documented lynchings took place. That’s a bit more than fifty per year, virtually all of them in the deep south, virtually all the victims black men accused of attacks on white women.
Again, there are no implications here, nothing between the lines, no interpretation necessary. This is the stuff of David Duke. Back in the good old days when American was great and Duke still wore the white robes.
I won’t belabor the birther thing except to point out a few, little-known factoids. For example, as of this date, four American citizens born outside the United States have run for President. The most recent pair, John McCain and Ted Cruz, are household names. George Romney, father of Mitt Romney, born in Mexico, is not, and most people aren’t aware of Barry Goldwater’s birth in the Territory of Arizona. But no great fuss was made in any of these cases. That's because the Congress in 1790 wrote a statute that covered the issue: An Act to Establish a Uniform Rule of Naturalization.
“And the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens.”
Later statutes tinkered with the language, but despite the issue being raised in 2008, no one, not even Obama, claimed the John McCain was ineligible. The issue was, in fact, a non-issue, brought up at one point, then quickly dismissed.
A question arises here. If Obama’s place of birth was so important that the issue remained alive, even after he showed his original birth certificate, even after he revealed his long-form birth certificate, why wasn’t it an issue for the other four presidential candidates born outside the United States? I see two possibilities. First, the other four were Republicans and Obama’s a Democrat. Second, the other four are white and Obama is black.
Which is more likely? I’ll leave the reader to calculate the probabilities.
The many descriptions of black communities offered by Don the Con embrace a theme with a long history. I vividly recall the mantra offered by the adults in my world, including close relatives, way back when the Civil Rights movement was just getting started. Yes, this line went, black Americans have gotten a raw deal, in the past and in the present. But they’re just not ready.
Like Jackie Robinson wasn’t ready to compete in the Major Leagues when he suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
This notion didn’t die away as the years passed. After all, the word supremacist would never have been added to the word white, if it didn’t proclaim Europeans superior to Africans. And not just intellectually. Black men were hyper-sexual and unable to control their violent impulses. They had to be repressed, before and after the Civil War. For the superior white race, repression is a matter of survival.
“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed – what the hell do you have to lose?”
“Our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they they’ve ever been in before, ever, ever, ever. You take a look at the inner cities, you get no education, you get no jobs, you get shot walking down the street.”
“You go into the inner cities and you see it’s 45% poverty rate for African-Americans." (Fact: the highest poverty rate for African-Americans at the time of the statement was 24.1%, but Donald was never one to let the truth get between him and his racist constituents.)
I live in the West Harlem neighborhood of Hamilton Heights, a community divided between African-Americans, Dominicans and Mexicans (the rapists and murderers, remember?), with an established white minority. I’ve been living here for about six years and I regularly walk for exercise. In fact, weather permitting, I’m out there every day. And guess what? I haven’t even been shot once.
I’m going to close this rant with a quote from Richard Nixon. The quote was taken directly from a White House tape so there’s no issue with its authenticity. Here Nixon is musing with his Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman, over how to use race to win elections.
“The second point is coming out – coming out and saying that black Americans aren’t as good as black Africans – most of them, basically, are just out of the trees. Now, let’s face it, they are.”
I began my Birds of a Feather Rant #1 with a stated goal in mind, to prove that the backing Donald Trump has received (and continues to receive) from the white supremacist fringe is not merely opportunistic, but derives from men like David Duke recognizing Trump as a fellow traveler. Given the evidence I’ve amassed, I consider the issue settled. Time to ride off into the sunset. Let’s see, should I choose the white horse or the black horse? Or should I claim the middle ground and find myself a pinto?