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President Trump says he's not a racist; he only sounds like one

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Another backlash erupted in conservative media, accusing ESPN of a double standard. The network fired former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling last year after tweeting a vulgar Internet meme against pro-transgender bathroom policies.

A lot of Schilling's defenders fail to mention that he was a repeat offender, despite having been repeatedly warned to obey the network's rules on discussing politics. Hill had never been disciplined except for a 2008 suspension when she was an ESPN columnist -- for a joke that compared rooting for the Boston Celtics to rooting for Adolf Hitler.

Note to fellow commentators: To avoid being misunderstood, avoid using Hitler's name to refer to anybody but Hitler.

Ironically, Trump was being called a white supremacist at a time when he was making public gestures of racial outreach. In the wake of his equivocal reaction to white supremacist protests that left one woman dead in Charlottesville, Va., last month, Trump invited Tim Scott, the Senate's only black Republican, to show his commitment to "positive race relations," as his staff described the meeting.

Scott, like many others (including me), had expressed disgust with Trump's insistence that "both sides," racists and anti-racist protesters, were responsible for the violence that followed a torchlight protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

When a reporter asked the senator after that meeting if the president had expressed regret, Scott paused and replied without glee, "He certainly tried to explain what he was trying to convey."

I'm sure. While allowing that there were "some antagonists" on the anti-racist side, Scott argued that they were far from the moral equivalent of "white supremacists, white nationalists, KKK, Nazis" and other hate groups "who over three centuries of this country's history have made it their mission to create upheaval in minority communities as their reason for existence."

Unfortunately this president has been loath to do what his predecessors in both parties have done: declare clearly and forthrightly that he does not want the votes of those who support him for racist reasons.

At least, after his meeting with Scott, he did sign a resolution that Congress had passed that condemns white supremacists and hate groups. That's a healthy sign. Whether the president views himself as a racist or not, he needs to avoid sounding like one.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

(c) 2017 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

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