Monday, June 06, 2016

Pastor Scott's 'Come-Up' & Trump's Imaginary African-American

Trump supporter Pastor Darrell Scott
In response to the growing backlash against Donald Trump's (latest) bigoted statements, his campaign has been quick to trot out the enigmatic Pastor Darrell Scott in an almost Quixotic effort to dispel the public perception that Trump is a racist xenophobe.

Scott was the man largely responsible for helping to round up that group of African-American church leaders back in the fall, ostensibly as visual evidence of Trump's support within the black community.

Have you seen any of those church leaders lately?

Most likely it was a staged photo op for Trump to be seen pictured with some black people.

Now obviously people can support any political candidate they like, but given Trump's divisive rhetoric, Scott seems like a bit of a strange duck.

Earlier today I watched him being interviewed on CNN by Brooke Baldwin along with two other panelists discussing the fallout from Trump's public feud with a federal judge whose parents were of Mexican descent.

While it's not my intent, place or desire to judge the pastor's work with the church, watching him field questions about Trump's attitudes towards racial minorities and immigrants on CNN, it seemed to me as if Scott came off as more of a political PR hack than a man of the cloth.

Back in March, Jason Johnson wrote an interesting piece on Scott for in which he observed that Scott is not widely viewed as one of the leading members of the black clergy in the city of Cleveland (Johnson has lived there on and off for 10 years), nor has he been seen as taking any kind of public leadership role on major issues impacting the local black community there.

From what I could tell, Scott seems to have no substantive answer to questions about the numerous examples of Trump's racial and ethnic intolerance, or what his bogus "university" might say about his qualification to be president - he's like a blind supporter of Trump.

Ohio Rep Stephanie Howse
According to Johnson's article, the good pastor, a self-professed former drug addict who preaches "prosperity ministry" to the roughly 200 members of his New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland, it's likely that he's getting a nice paycheck from The Donald for his support.

The title graphic under his name during the CNN interview listed him as the "CEO of the Coalition for Diversity for Trump" - or something like that; I doubt he's doing that for free.

Johnson's article quotes Democratic State House Representative Stephanie Howse, a Cleveland-area lawmaker who sits on the House Community and Family Advancement Committee, as saying of Pastor Scott's stumping for Trump:

"This is all about the money and getting next to Trump. Just last year his wife was on a reality show (Lifetime's Preach). He's trying to get famous and be on the come-up. If he really cared so much about politics, where has he been on local issues, where he could make a much greater impact?"

My guess is the Donald saw a relatively lower-tier minister preaching a gospel of prosperity in the same city where the Republicans will hold their convention and saw an opportunity - one he was ready to pay for.  

Trump has already secured enough delegates to secure the GOP presidential nomination, but lately it seems like he's on some kind of campaign to disassociate himself from the divisive bigotry which has been spewing out  his own mouth for months.

Judge Gonzalo Curiel
It's like lately he's on a mission to prove that he's really not the xenophobic bigot that his words have shown him to be since the day he kicked off his campaign with a now infamous diatribe against Mexican immigrants.

Trump is facing growing criticism from members of his own party (including Senators Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins and Kelly Ayotte, and House Speaker Paul Ryan) for his comments suggesting that federal judge Gonzalo Curiel should be disqualified from hearing two lawsuits stemming from the sham Trump University.

Why? Because (in Trump's view) Curiel's "Mexican heritage" would make him too biased to rule fairly on the case.

(This from a guy who recently celebrated Cinco de Mayo by posing while eating a taco bowl with the quote, "I love Hispanics!") 

As the Washington Post reported today, a number of Republican Senators and House members arriving back on Capitol Hill after the Memorial Day break all but ran from reporters to avoid having to comment on Trump's suggestions that a sitting federal judge is not qualified to rule on the merits of a case because of his ethnicity.

Now Trump finds himself pushing back against Republican party establishment figures like Newt Gingrich on the eve of the California primary; and let's be honest, the West coast has not been good for Trump.

Gregory Cheadle - Not Trump's African-American
Not only were some of his appearances marred by violent protests against his anti-immigration policies,  Trump's effort to reach out to a black attendee standing in the crowd at a rally in Redding, California backfired when Trump pointed to the man and uttered the cringe-worthy phrase, "Look at my African-American over there."

Putting aside the fact that Trump completely missed the paternalistic master-slave context of his own words, as NPR reported yesterday, it turns out that man he pointed to, Gregory Cheadle, is not a Trump supporter.

Cheadle is a Republican.

In fact he's running for California's 1st Congressional District and he told reporters he attended the rally because, "I am not a Trump supporter. I went to hear Donald Trump because I have an open mind."

Cheadle, whose head is bald, told reporters he was holding a cardboard 'Veterans for Trump' sign over his head to block the sun when Trump pointed at him and made the comments; which he said were "surreal" but did not offend him.

According to a recent interview, Cheadle is a successful businessman who describes himself as an "1856 Republican" who values freedom based on his having grown up during segregation and experienced it first hand; he also wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Cheadle also sees jobs and the economy as a priority and wants to address the issue of mass incarceration and the impact it's having on the lives of former felons.

He certainly sounds like a much more intriguing Republican presidential candidate than Trump.

Who knows, with the huge unexpected boost in name recognition and national media exposure he's been getting from Trump's comments, maybe we'll see him walking the halls of Congress someday.

Whoever Cheadle is, he's clearly not "Trump's African-American", nor anyone else's for that matter.

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