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What did Jemele Hill get wrong?

By Leonard Pitts Jr., Tribune Content Agency on

You'd have thought she advocated kindergarten classes in Satanism from the speed with which ESPN disavowed her for what it called "inappropriate" tweets. Hill would eventually apologize for putting the company in such an awkward position. But ESPN's response was mild compared to the White House's rebuke. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders pronounced Hill's tweets "a fireable offense."

Really? Well, if Hill deserves firing for calling Trump a white supremacist, then what does he get for actually being one?

But we already know the answer, don't we? Donald John Trump is a man whose cognitive and moral deficits would, in a sane country, render him unfit to clean toilets at a reasonably respectable strip club. But he became president. And as Ta-Nehisi Coates argues in the new issue of The Atlantic, he was elected largely because of his racism -- not despite it -- having run on an implicit promise to restore white primacy after eight years of the black interloper Obama.

And here, someone will protest that she voted for Trump, but doesn't consider herself a white supremacist. Yet that hypothetical voter and 63 million others did vote -- knowingly -- for white supremacy even if they disavow the ideology for themselves. So what's the material difference?

There is none. That's a bitter truth some of us would prefer not to face, indicting as it does cherished myths about ourselves and our country and how we overcame.

For the record, the only "fireable offense" here is Trump's impersonation of a president. But make no mistake: Even if he is held accountable in 2020, it won't fix, or even address, that frightened, primitive thing inside them that led so many to reach out to him in the first place.

So the fact of the matter is, Jemele Hill got nothing wrong. No, she's in trouble because she did the opposite.

She told entirely too much truth.

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(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.)

 

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