Trump: Why he picked a fight with LaVar Ball
Have you noticed that President Trump “regularly goes out of his way to attack prominent African- Americans”? said Greg Sargent in WashingtonPost.com. It’s no accident. Trump was elected largely because of his skill in exploiting the feeling that “minorities enjoy special privileges that unfairly rig the game against struggling white people.” To remind his base why they love him, the 45th president has used his Twitter bludgeon to attack NBA superstar Stephen Curry, ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, and black NFLplayers who kneel during the national anthem. Last week, Trump found a juicy new target in LaVar Ball, the self-promoting basketball patriarch and aspiring apparel tycoon. Ball earned the president’s ire when he refused to thank Trump for interceding to have charges dropped against his son LiAngelo Ball, who was arrested along with two college basketball teammates for shoplifting in China. “Ungrateful fool!” Trump raged in a tweetstorm, adding, “I should have left them in jail!” As president, Trump should have “far, far, far better things to do” than pick fights with “ungrateful” black athletes and other prominent African-Americans, said the New York Daily News in an editorial. But he’d rather “throw chum to the worst part of his base.” Mr. President, “we see what you’re doing, and we pity you.”
Don’t pity him too much—racial resentment put Trump in the White House, said Vann Newkirk in TheAtlantic.com. Trump is a “savant” at harnessing “white resentment and hostility toward outspoken people of color.” He launched his political career on the racist “birther” campaign against President Obama, and as a presidential candidate, he exploited animus toward Hispanics and Muslims. Trump’s policy views are largely incoherent, so “there is no Trumpism without people of color to serve as a foil.” The rest of America is growing increasingly disenchanted with his antics, which is why Trump is spending even more time “knocking down the kinds of black folks members of his base want to see knocked down,” like the flamboyant, bigmouthed Ball.
Look—it was “inexcusable” of Trump to suggest he should have let the young Ball and his teammates rot in a Chinese prison, said Jim Geraghty in NationalReview.com. But of all the people targeted for a presidential Twitter rant, LaVar Ball “probably had it coming more than most.” Trump personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to release LiAngelo Ball, thus sparing the younger Ball years in jail and keeping alive his dreams of a pro-basketball career. Is “a little humility, gratitude, and graciousness” from his father really too much to ask? As for Trump’s supposed racism, said Bill Speros in BostonHerald.com, how do critics explain his Twitter attacks on a hundred white targets, ranging from Jeb Bush to Sen. Chuck Schumer to Joe Scarborough?
Trump may also attack whites, said Jeet Heer in NewRepublic.com, but he exhibits “a greater intensity of grievance” when attacking black Americans, especially those he can accuse of ingratitude. “Ungrateful,” a slightly sanitized synonym for “uppity,” encodes the racist idea that whites have a natural right to the country, while nonwhites have provisional status that depends on whether they prove they belong and show deference. Trump demanded Obama’s birth certificate because he was a provisional American who’d stepped out of his place. With his attacks on famous, “uppity” blacks like Ball, Trump is reassuring his supporters that after eight years of a black interloper running the country, “there’s a new sheriff in town, and he is going to keep everyone in their place.” ■