When I was young in the ’70s, my Dad told our oversized family to hop in the station wagon. He was driving us from Long Island to Great Adventure, a theme park much less expensive than Disney World, but just as fun. At least it was for us.
During the past year I find myself back in the fantasy land of Great Adventure, with a free pass to the best rides, no less.
Today, we even have Beltways Bumper cars, media water slides and twittering carousels.
Today’s latest ride erupted Thursday night with The Washington Post’s “no-named” sources story saying the president used profane language to describe Haiti, El Salvador and some African countries.
At this point, it almost doesn’t matter that the president was speaking in a private conversation, the full context of his comments, or that other presidents (think Johnson, Nixon) have said far, far worse in the White House.
A rock has been thrown into the pond and the ripples are echoing worldwide.
We’ve passed the point to calm people down, because the reporting, accurate or not (Senator Durbin claims the reports are true), echoes a president who likes to speak his mind and who comes from a generation that didn’t go to sensitivity training classes.
I decided to take a peek on how our press reports on the president’s alleged comments were impacting the countries mentioned.
In Haiti, for example, one of the country’s largest newspapers editorialized that President Trump’s comments have “no place in the relations between nations or people, even less so in the mouth of a president of a friendly nation.”
In Africa, the African Union issued a statement saying it is “alarmed at the statements … considering the slave trade … and flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice.”
The most stinging comments, however, come from a white columnist at the influential South African website Times Live.
Remember, South Africa was, just over two decades ago, the apartheid state that imprisoned Nelson Mandela.
Yet the South African people have worked hard to overcome their past to bring people of all colors together. They did so because of the leadership of Nelson Mandela.
I have been inside Mandela’s tiny cell on Robben Island. There I glimpsed into his pain. After that experience, I was in awe of how he demonstrated courage and leadership by uniting his people, despite every reason to do otherwise.
So, from this country, Times Live columnist Tom Eaton writes: ”On the rarefied world of untransformed and unrepentant racists, my tribe walks shoulder to shoulder with the best of the worst, whether they be Russians sniffing out Jewish tendencies, Indians obsessing over caste, or Chinese gaping at black people. All of which makes me particularly qualified to tell you something important. You are the real deal, Donald … a gold-star racist.”
I understand Mr. Eaton’s anger. But his assessment of Trump is wrong.
Over many years, I have been in the company of Donald Trump in public moments and many private ones.
I have been with him on his plane for hours; I was there with him in Scotland when he opened his world-class club; I’ve been with him for the Miss Universe pageant and too many times to count.
I don’t know what President Trump said at the White House meeting. He may have made some inappropriate comments. But I know one thing for sure: Donald Trump is not a racist.
Inside this great man with a brusque exterior you will not find a racist bone.
Even in his most off-guarded moments, long before he was running for president, I have never heard him utter any racist remarks, anti-Semitic comments or ethnic slurs of any type. Sure, he has occasionally used profanity through the years, but it was very rare.
Truthfully, Trump has prided himself on his good relations with minorities. He is someone with a proven track record of developing racial harmony.
But these facts don’t matter because we are in fantasy land; everyone sees their own reality. Clearly, people around the world have been hurt—whether accidentally, deliberately or otherwise.
A simple beer in the Rose Garden won’t make this one go away.
But the president can take steps to make the peoples of the world know that he and America stands with them, to make this place called earth a better place, and to let them know the real Donald Trump.