The Washington Post, in a lead editorial on Donald Trump’s “politics of denigration” (11/29/15), deplores the fact that Republican leaders have not spoken out on Trump’s “despicable” campaign falsehoods and “mocking of others.” In previous editorials, the Post has condemned Trump for calling Mexicans “rapists,” favoring mass registry of Muslims and the closing of mosques, and for his vile comments about women and the disabled.
Oddly missing from the Post’s list of “despicable” falsehoods was his racist charge that blacks are the primary source of murders in this country – not only murders of other blacks but of whites and policemen. Not only did Trump make that charge but he posted a graphic fabricated by a neo-Nazi to support it.
Question 1: Why is it that the Post and other editorial voices outraged by Donald Trump’s vile campaign rhetoric have yet to address the issue of how such a racist xenophobe was allowed to acquire a historic landmark in the heart of Washington’s Federal Triangle – a 60-year lease on the Old Post Office building, halfway between the White House and Capitol?
The right to renovate the Old Post Office building into a modern hotel was handed to Trump, mind you, after a fierce bidding war with established and fiscally sound hotel developers. His typically grandiose, hyperbolic promise to “produce one of the great hotels anywhere in the world” persuaded Washington’s local officials – then-Mayor Vincent Gray, current Mayor Muriel Bowser, and congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton – that despite his record of hotel bankruptcies, Trump’s offer would prove a boon to the Washington economy. (Not to discount the possibility of other behind-the-scenes promises given Washington’s local officials.)
The artful deal was sealed in 2013, under pressure from Congressman Jeff Denham (R.-Cal.), subcommittee chairman for public buildings. Groundbreaking for the $200 million project came July 2014, a gala event centered around obsequious praise of Trump by Gray, Bowser, and Norton, who went so far as to say Washington would, thanks to him, finally have a first-class luxury hotel (ignoring the existence of the Four Seasons, two Ritz-Carltons, and the venerable 5-star Willard a block away).
Predictably, given Trump’s history of shameless self-promotion, problems weren’t long in coming. Once his campaign for the presidency got underway, he ordered a gigantic, block-long banner stretched across the reconstruction site, proclaiming COMING IN 2016 … TRUMP – offensive not only to the eye but the historic aesthetics of the Federal Triangle.
Protests followed, but – again predictably – local officials said there was nothing they could do about it. Then, after candidate Trump described Mexican immigrants as “rapists and criminals,” active street protests took place, leading Delegate Norton to ask that Trump apologize.
Not that he would but Norton, whose dealings with Trump deserve more attention than the Post has given them, didn’t pursue the matter. Nor has she or Mayor Bowser been heard to speak out on Trump’s racist use of neo-Nazi fabricated statistics regarding black crime.
Why not? Well after all, as Norton, Bowser and other local officials trumpeted at the groundbreaking a year ago, their friend Donald was bringing to the nation’s capital “a destination for power brokers, international visitors and luxury travelers.”
Oh, about the descriptive “international” – that’s actually the name the destination, when completed, will be known by: TRUMP’S INTERNATIONAL HOTEL; though judging by the owner’s campaign rhetoric, no Muslim, Mexican, Chinese or African American travelers need apply for reservations.
Question 2: How much “despicable” hate-filled rhetoric will it take for local authorities to speak out and take action to review and revoke the leasing of an historic Pennsylvania Avenue landmark to a revealed and unapologetic racist?
Sound bite to remember
“There but for the grace of God goes God.”
–Winston Churchill on Sir Stafford Cripps (1945) and what Winnie, if alive, would say of Donald Trump (2015)