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A dozen times Trump has stoked racial tensions
From the 'Central Park Five' to 'the squad': A dozen times Donald Trump has stoked racial tensions
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s series of attacks this week against four Democratic women – all minorities – has stirred outrage but it's far from the first time he has stoked racial tensions.
Trump has created controversy for years with incendiary rhetoric that is often directed at people of color – from his branding of the Central Park Five as “muggers and murderers” to his peddling of the false “birther” conspiracy against then-President Barack Obama to his denigrating of a former African-American aide as a “dog.”
Here are a dozen times when Trump has fueled racial tensions:
Trump’s attacks against four liberal Democratic congresswomen – all women of color – started Sunday with a series of tweets in which he suggested they should “go back” to their country of origin. The remarks were met with a barrage of criticism, but Trump refused to back down, saying they “hate our country” and that “if they don’t like it, let them leave.”
Three of the congresswomen – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. – were born in the United States. The fourth, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., was born in Somalia, but her family fled that country’s civil war when she was 8 years old and eventually settled in Minneapolis. She became an American citizen at age 17.
Trump furiously attacked former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, who is black, calling her “a dog” and a “crazed crying lowlife.”
Trump’s rampage last summer against his former aide came after Manigault Newman wrote a book about her White House tenure that was highly critical of the president. Manigault Newman also released a tape in which she and three other officials in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign discussed the possibility of another tape in which Trump supposedly uses a racial slur.
Rumors about a racist tape, supposedly from outtakes of Trump's television program "The Apprentice," on which Manigault Newman was a contestant, surfaced during the last month of the campaign. Manigault Newman has claimed that she has heard the tape, but no audio has publicly surfaced with Trump using the "n" word.
But on the tape Manigault Newman released, campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson could be heard saying, “He said it. He is embarrassed by it."
Trump, who denies making the remark, unleashed a tirade against Newman on Twitter.
“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out," the president tweeted about Manigault Newman. "Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!"
He was referring to John Kelly, who at the time was White House chief of staff and fired Manigault Newman nine months earlier.
LeBron James and Don Lemon
Basketball star LeBron James sat down with CNN's Don Lemon for an interview last August after he cut the ribbon on his foundation's new I Promise School in his native Akron, Ohio.
James spoke at length on the intersection of sports, culture and politics. He said during the interview that Trump was "using sports to kinda divide us, and that's something that I can't relate to."
Not long after, the president tweeted about the interview and James, belittling the intelligence of both the basketball player and Lemon.
"Lebron (sic) James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon," Trump tweeted. "He made Lebron (sic) look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!"
Lemon didn’t mince words when he talked about the controversy for nine minutes on CNN.
"The president has called a lot of people stupid," Lemon said. "Some of those people are white. But I would just like to note that referring to an African American as dumb — remember this is America — is one of the oldest canards of America’s racist past and present: that black people are of inferior intelligence."
He continued: "This president traffics in racism and is fueled by bullying."
One of Trump's favorite targets has been Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
He has criticized the California Democrat's intelligence many times, saying she has an "extraordinarily low I.Q."
He has repeated the phrase at countless rallies and over Twitter.
"Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party," Trump posted on Twitter in June. "She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!"
Trump's comments after a white nationalists’ rally in Charlottesville, Va., has been dubbed by critics as one of the lowest points in his presidency.
Trump said there were "fine people on both sides" of the rally — both the counterprotesters and those members of the alt-right who did Nazi salutes and chants.
Trump also said "both sides" were to blame for the violence. A woman who was protesting against the white nationalists was killed after a car rammed into a group marching down a street.
The president's comments after the rally fluctuated from condemning the white nationalists, Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan to then again blaming both sides for what happened.
Trump has used the word "animal" many times to describe those accused of crimes, whether it's gang members or terrorists in the U.S. or abroad.
In May 2018, Trump was criticized after using the word "animals" to describe people crossing the border. At first, many took his comments as immigrants were animals. The White House clarified that the president was dubbing MS-13 gang members animals.
During a discussion about MS-13, Trump said: "We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before."
Many of the president's critics said the comments were dehumanizing and shouldn't be used no matter who it's being used to describe.
As NFL protests picked up steam and more and more players refused to stand for the National Anthem, Trump chimed in.
"Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son-of-a-**bleep** off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!'" Trump said at a rally in 2017.
The players who took a knee were protesting police brutality and racism after a number of high-profile cases where black men had been shot and killed by police officers.
Faced with criticism, Trump did what he frequently does. He took to Twitter again.
"The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their 'outrage' at something that most of them are unable to define," Trump tweeted.
Judge in Trump University case
Trump once argued that a judge involved in his Trump University court case ruled against him because of the judge's heritage.
Trump claimed it was a conflict of interest to have U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel handling his case because he is of Mexican descent. Curiel was born in the United States.
Trump said that Curiel’s heritage meant the judge doesn't like him because he wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.
"I have had horrible rulings, I have been treated unfairly by this judge," said in June 2016 during his campaign for president. "Now this judge is of Mexican heritage, I'm building a wall."
During immigration talks in the Oval Office in January 2018, Trump reportedly grew frustrated, using a crude description of Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, according to a report from The Washington Post.
"Why are we having all these people from **bleep**hole countries come here?" Trump reportedly told lawmakers.
The president then suggested that the U.S. try to increase immigration from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he had recently met.
Obama ‘birther’ conspiracy
Well before he became president, Trump was one of the loudest voices of the "birther" conspiracy.
He claimed that then-president Obama was not born in the U.S. and even went as far as claiming that he'd sent investigators to Hawaii, where Obama was born.
Even after Obama released a long-form version of his birth certificate, hoping to quell the conspiracy, Trump kept floating the idea that Obama was an illegitimate president.
He largely avoided the subject during his 2016 presidential campaign but did eventually acknowledge Obama was born in the U.S. while also falsely claiming Hillary Clinton was to blame for creating the conspiracy.
Muslim Gold Star parents
Critics, including some fellow Republicans, blasted Trump's feud with the Muslim parents of a fallen soldier.
Khizr Khan, who lost a son in the Iraq war, spoke out against Trump multiple times, most notably during the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Khan assailed Trump for proposals that would bar Muslim entry into the United States and may not have allowed his son into the United States had they been in place. Khan urged Trump to read the U.S. Constitution and told him "you have sacrificed nothing."
Responding, Trump suggested that the Clinton campaign wrote Khan's convention speech and that Khan's wife did not speak at the convention because she was forbidden.
Trump continued to tweet about the Khans, saying the story shouldn't be about him but rather "radical Islamic terrorism and the U.S."
"Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same — Nice!" Trump said in another tweet.
A number of Republicans took aim at Trump with the controversy that surrounded the feud.
Then-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Trump has "disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents" and in the past "has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement."
Central Park Five
Trump has repeatedly disparaged a group of black and Latino men wrongly accused of assaulting a white female jogger in Central Park in 1989.
Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise were all boys when they were convicted of raping Trisha Meili. They were then found innocent of the crime after convicted murder Matias Reyes in 2002 confessed to raping Meili, which was confirmed by DNA evidence. The city awarded the men $41 million in 2014, a decade after some of the men initially sued the city for how it handled the case.
In 1989, Trump, then a popular business mogul, spent $85,000 worth of ads published in The New York Times, The Daily News, The New York Post and New York Newsday in which he lamented crime in the city and claimed there was no more “law and order.”
'They admitted their guilt': 30 years of Trump's comments about the Central Park Five
Trump claimed the city was being "ruled by the law of the streets, as roving bands of wild criminals roam our neighborhoods, dispensing their own vicious brand of twisted hatred on whomever they encounter."
Trump said he hated "these muggers and murderers."
He has refused to back down, again calling them “muggers” on Twitter in 2013 and labeling the $41 “a disgrace.”
Around a month before the 2016 election, Trump stood by his opinion that the five men were guilty even though they have since been exonerated of the crime.
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