- Kimberlé Crenshaw
professor of law at UCLA and Columbia University. She is a V-Day board member and the founder of the African American Policy Forum.
- Scott Horton
human rights attorney and contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine. He is also a lecturer at Columbia Law School.
- David Cay Johnston
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter previously with The New York Times. He’s currently a USA Today columnist and Syracuse Law lecturer. His latest book is Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality.
A coalition of union presidents, activists, actors, professors and others have launched the “Stop Hate, Dump Trump” campaign “to end hatred, fear mongering, bullying, racism in America.” We speak to movement co-founder Kimberlé Crenshaw.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Kimberlé Crenshaw, I’d like to ask you, as Trump has dominated the Republican contest so far, you’ve been part of a group called Stop Hate, Dump Trump. Can you talk about his impact on the national discourse of these presidential—of this presidential race?
KIMBERLÉ CRENSHAW: Yes. Well, I think we’re seeing precisely the impact of Donald Trump on the coarsening of political discourse. You know, many people point out that in terms of policy, when we look at Cruz, for example, we’re not looking at dramatic distinctions in terms of some of the things that they’ve been advocating for. But our point is that Donald Trump is one of the only people to just actually come out and generate explicit racial stereotypes, with respect to immigrants, for example, and Muslims. And the impact, frankly, in this particular media culture, when the corporate media is dictated more by ratings than by any traditional role that journalism ought to play in a democracy, actually means that he’s encouraged to do more damage to our basic sensibilities. So we began this campaign basically to try to rein in the extent to which this kind of fear mongering with explicit appeals to the basest instincts in many Americans might be rolled back.
Now, having said that—and we still stand by Stop Hate, Dump Trump—it is fascinating how even a broken clock can be right twice a day. And so, in his conversation about the damaging war that we went into, based largely on fabricated information, is a fascinating development. And we are really interested to see whether this debate between the establishment and someone like Trump actually has any traction in the broader American debate.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And under your twice-a-day theory, there was a second theory that Trump said, is that he would—he understands why Obama would, should name the Supreme Court justice, and he would if he was president. Scott?
SCOTT HORTON: Well, exactly right, I think. He understands power and the aggressive use of power, which is something to be concerned about here. But I think, again, you know, it shows Trump’s tactical brilliance. He understands how unpopular the leadership of the Republican Party is, so he’s picked a couple of issues, which are the 9/11 issue, the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction that were found in Iraq. He’s picked issues where he knows the leadership will line up in a circle to defend them, and they’re wrong, they’re untenable. And he will be alone on the stage taking that view. So, tactically, very, very smart play.
AMY GOODMAN: Also on the issue of trade deals, he stands with Bernie Sanders against these deals, and, coming late to it, Hillary Clinton.
SCOTT HORTON: The year of the insurrectionists.
AMY GOODMAN: You have covered, David Cay Johnston, Donald Trump for many years. We spoke to you early on. Now he has won the New Hampshire primary, moving on to South Carolina. What has surprised you? And especially on this issue of his wealth, saying that makes him independent, because—as he stresses all the time, he says, “I am rich,” he says, “I am a billionaire”?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, first of all, I’m not at all surprised that he’s doing so well. Before he formally announced, unlike almost every other national journalist, I said he is serious about this, and he might win the nomination. I also said I didn’t think he could be elected president, though I can see circumstances, like a terrorist attack in October, that might put him into the White House if he gets the nomination. If he does get the nomination, of course, I believe it will be the end of the Republican Party as we know it. The internal tensions of the party that are tearing at it, Trump is exploiting for his own benefit.
The thing I’m surprised about is that journalists have not been tough at all with Trump. My “21 Questions for Donald Trump,” that I wrote at National Memo, nobody is asking the questions about Donald’s drug dealer helicopter pilot, about his dealings with the mob, about his failure to pay people for work that they’ve done for him, both vendors and employees. None of those things are being asked. And when Trump kept asserting, through his tiny staff, that he had a boiler room operations, multiple ones in New Hampshire, and he had people going door to door, the only place I saw anyone ask, “Well, show us these things,” was on MSNBC. There may have been others, but clearly, journalists didn’t go and look at what I’m absolutely certain was a nonexistent ground game. And so I’m surprised that he’s not being held to a tough standard about backing up what he says about his campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Professor Crenshaw, I mean, you’re an activist, but you don’t often take on a particular Republican presidential candidate within the primaries, but you have joined with Harry Belafonte, Eve Ensler, Kerry Washington, Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and others in this Stop Hate, Dump Trump campaign. Why him at this early stage?
KIMBERLÉ CRENSHAW: Well, I think precisely for the reasons we just heard. What was so disturbing is that the media have not asked him the tough questions. They have not taken seriously some of the most outrageous things that he’s said. Within days of saying that Muslims should not be allowed to enter the country, he was both on news shows and entertainment shows, and in that context, there was no interrogation whatsoever, so—well, at least no effective interrogation. It was like, “Oh, about that Muslim thing”—
AMY GOODMAN: Five seconds.
KIMBERLÉ CRENSHAW: —was something that Jimmy Fallon said. So, effectively, because he’s both an entertainer and a political figure, and because he generates massive ratings when he comes onto television shows—
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, Kimberlé Crenshaw, David Cay Johnston, Scott Horton.