Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Trump and Farrakhan: Speaking America’s heart?

7th November 2016   ·   0 Comments

By Rev. Susan K Smith
Guest Columnist

A repeated sentiment I hear from people following the current bid for president of the United States is confusion over why so many people are following and are supportive of, Donald Trump.

“There isn’t anything anyone can do about Trump,” said one person deeply involved in the campaign, “but what is troubling is that he has so many people who are with him. I figured he’d have, like, 20 to 25 percent of the electorate supporting him, but he’s got way more than that, like 45 percent. I don’t get it.”

I asked him if he thought Trump could win.

“Well, yes, I do, but I hope he doesn’t. Hillary isn’t all that great a candidate, either, but Trump is just …bad. Bad for the country. He makes the country look bad. I have to believe America is better than that.”

That sentiment is common. Even some people who are voting for Trump have said to me, “He’s over the top. He’s a bag of wind. But he’s better than Hillary. Anybody is better than Hillary.”

One person said, cryptically, “Black people have Farrakhan. We have Trump.”

It is astounding to listen to. These people are die-hard, hard-hat, patriotic Americans – who do not care that Trump has not revealed his taxes. They don’t care if he goes to church. It apparently does not matter that he has been accused of sexually assaulting a number of women, and it doesn’t appear to matter that he does not appear to have much knowledge about policy – either domestic or foreign.

The juxtaposition of Farrakhan and Trump is fascinating. Yes, the Honorable Louis Farrakhan , leader of the Nation of Islam, has said some pretty explosive things over the years. He is no supporter of gay rights; in 2012, he criticized President Obama for “sanctioning what the scriptures forbid.” (

He is unabashedly anti-Semitic, making such charges as the Jews were responsible for the slave trade and that they conspire to control the American government. He refutes the claim that Jews have a right to claim Israel as their own land and has said that Judaism is a “deceptive lie” and a “theological error” used by the Jewish people to promote their own agenda. (

He is no lover of white people. In a three-hour sermon in 2015, he told his listeners that “white people deserve to die.” ( ( )

Though Farrakhan has never endorsed Trump, he did offer the GOP candidate praise for not accepting any money from Jews. In a statement, Farrakhan said, “Not that I’m for Mr. Trump, but I like what I’m seeing.” (

Trump’s inflammatory statements about women, Muslims, Mexicans, Black people, and even war heroes are by now legendary. Though he says he’s in support of black people, for example, he recently called a Black person at one of his rallies a “thug,” though the person was a Trump supporter. ( Trump openly caters to people who appear to be openly racist, inspiring people like former KKK leader David Duke to run for political office.

While nobody can really know what Trump stands for, in other words, he seems to lean on the side of being a bigoted, misogynistic, and sexist, and it appears that for many people, that is fine.

Farrakhan might be put in the same boat, but there is an important difference: Farrakhan is not running for president, nor could he successfully do so if he as a candidate spewed his views. He would immediately be shut down and put out of commission; indignant Americans would criticize him and accuse him of being a hatemonger, something they would say they cannot accept and which could never be allowed to lead America.

But Trump appears to be a hatemonger, and many think him running America would be just fine. They don’t even care about the allegations that he might be in communication with Vladimir Putin, an avowed enemy of America.

Trump’s hatred and bigotry, his name calling, his disrespect for “the system,” and his grandiose ideas about how only he can fix America …are just fine.

I am not quite sure, yet, how to analyze this, but one thing is clear: hatred coming from a white man running for president is not disturbing to literally millions of Americans, mostly, but not all, white. Similar hatred coming from a Black man would never be tolerated.

Perhaps what is being seen is America’s core beliefs in sexism and racism, crafted and included in the U.S. Constitution, being played out. Trump’s treatment of women has been deplorable but nobody seems to care. In fact, this country’s justice system has been rather lenient in deciding sentences for men who have been accused of sexually assaulting women. Former Stanford University student Brock Turner got a pithy six-month sentence for raping an unconscious girl and only had to serve three months of the sentence. Roman Catholic priests, accused of sexually abusing young people for years, were likewise given a basic free pass for years, being passed from parish to parish to continue to serve until the lid blew off of the scandal.

But America’s core is being revealed in this presidential campaign. The Founding Fathers wrote in racism and sexism as part of America’s values, and I am afraid that we are seeing those values being played out.

It is, as Charles Dickens wrote, the best and the worst of times for America.

This article originally published in the November 7, 2016 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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