Is Donald Trump a racist? Only the mogul himself can answer that question, but organizations from Color Of Change to Talking Points Memo have accused Trump of race baiting. That's because many of his concerns about President Barack Obama appear to be racially coded. Take, for instance, Trumps' thoughts on how the president has handled rising fuel costs. He suggested that the president could stop gas prices from rising if he "gets off his basketball court." Does President Obama play basketball? Yes, but to suggest that his fondness for the sport, dominated professionally by African Americans, is responsible for him being lax on the job has rubbed some as racially coded, as Ari Melber of The Nation put it in an NPR piece.
But the basketball court jab isn't the only recent remark of Trump's raising eyebrows. Of course, Trump suggested repeatedly that the half-Kenyan Obama had duped the public about his place of birth. The implication? A biracial black guy with a funny name couldn't possibly be American-born. After the birther claims, Trump accused President Obama of being a mediocre student at Occidental College who should not have been admitted to Ivy League schools such as Columbia and Harvard. The implication of this accusation is that President Obama only made it to the Ivy league because of affirmative action. So, not only is Obama unfit for office, he was unfit to attend the country's most elite academic institutions. Although Trump never mentioned Obama's race directly in any of his critiques of the president, it's not difficult to see why some members of the public would view Trump's remarks as racially coded. Trump has in essence reduced the first black president to a bad student who's lying about where he's from and too busy playing basketball to solve the nation's crises.
Trump, however, has denied allegations that he's racist by using an excuse that's now become a cliche. "I've always had a great relationships with the blacks. Some of my best friends are blacks," he said last month. More recently, during an appearance on "Fox & Friends" on Monday, Trump declared himself "the least racist person"--in part, because his show "The Apprentice" has had an African-American winner. Trump may or may not be a racist, but he should know better than to use the "I have black friends" excuse to defend himself against allegations of racism. If Trump truly wants to thwart charges of racism, why not attack President Obama for his policies in office rather than spark controversies related to his birthplace, academic record or hobbies?
While he's at it, it would serve Trump well to explain why the federal government reportedly sued him in the 1970s for discriminating against black renters at his New York buildings.