Donald J. Trump is a tireless champion of the downtrodden, the dispossessed, the disadvantaged.
You know, white people.
On Sundays, white people want to enjoy football games, not be reminded of cops shooting black people. And a black woman sportscaster (Jemele Hill) talking about race? Shut her up!
Puerto Ricans battered by a hurricane? They should be doing more to help themselves and show gratitude for whatever paper towels Trump tosses their way.
With Trump, it’s always “us” vs. “them.” The color of “us” never is in doubt.
The White Knight for White Rights will soon take his struggle into the courts, where Trump has joined an assault on affirmative action in college admissions.
It’s a complaint in search of a problem. As one African-American comedian put it, “One thing you never hear on most college campuses, ‘Wow. Where are all the white people?’ ”
Far from being shut out, whites have gained ground in college admissions over the last 35 years, a recent study found.
But let’s not let facts get in the way of white grievance.
To Trump, affirmative action spells injustice. And leading the charge against campus diversity is Trump’s confederate at the Justice Department, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. He quietly ordered the agency’s Civil Rights Division to search for “reverse discrimination.”
Trump urging others to be colorblind? With so many Trump hypocrisies to choose from, that is among the most palpable.
President Preposterous premiered in the political spotlight with bogus innuendos that the nation’s first black president was born in Kenya. He identified Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. He set a course to purge voter registration rolls of the wrong people — minorities who favor Democrats.
The president also boasts that he has “great genes.” Sweet music to amateur geneticists who like to march by night, carrying smoldering grudges and blazing torches.
To combat college admission “preferences,” Trump has been forced to take the disagreeable step of making common cause with a minority group. One that racists haven’t devoted much energy to lately.
You know, Asians.
At Trump’s behest, Sessions has joined the side of a group of Asians claiming they’ve been turned down for admission to Harvard and other universities, despite sterling test scores and top high school grades.
But casting Trump in the role of advocate for Asians is a cynical — and temporary — pose.
In the arena of college admissions, his real aim is to maintain — what is the phrase? — white supremacy.
It matters not that tales of white victimhood aren’t supported by admissions trends. Affirmative action — far from being a threat to whites — actually has done a poor job of advancing the college opportunities of many minorities.
From 1980 to 2015, the share of the U.S. black and Hispanic population enrolled in top colleges fell, even as the share of the white population gaining admission rose, a recent analysis by the New York Times found.
Whites remain overrepresented, compared with their share of the college-age population. The only racial group that fared better — somebody call the Irony Police — was Asians. The very minority with which Trump has made common cause in the attack on affirmative action.
Some Asians complain that they’re held to a higher standard than whites and other minorities. That may be true, but the data show that hurdle hasn’t been impossible for many Asians to overcome.
If Trump-o-philes really believe that minorities are living the good life thanks to “reverse discrimination,” someone should ask if they’d like to swap places with fellow citizens of a darker hue.
Whites would find that a painful trade.
Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to live in poverty than whites and face higher odds of dropping out from high school, though the latter disparity has narrowed.
Median household income for African-Americans in 2016 stood at about $39,000. They were the only race to lose ground since the year 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. Median income for Latinos was a little more than $47,000. For whites, the comparable figure was $65,000.
In contrast, Asians — the minority Trump pretends to champion — led all others, with $81,000 in median household income last year.
As with tax cuts for the rich, Trump has trouble distinguishing who needs a helping hand from who doesn’t.
To be sure, a significant share of whites may view affirmative action — whether in college admissions or corporate hiring — as a threat in an era of stagnating wages and job insecurity.
I could have joined the ranks of the aggrieved myself. In my 20s, I longed for a job at my hometown paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. With a persistence that must have annoyed that paper’s editors, I showed up searching for work eight times over the years.
Finally, an editor took me aside and said, “We’re only hiring blacks.” Indeed, the only person I knew who got a job at the Post-Dispatch in those days was African-American. From an impoverished, hardscrabble childhood, he later went on to become the first black managing editor of the New York Times.
Let’s pause to sigh for poor, put-upon me, a 20-something white guy in the 1970s trying to get ahead in the world. OK, let’s not.
Raised in Ferguson, Mo. — not exactly a haven of interracial harmony — I had seen for myself examples of blacks being shunned, dismissed and disparaged.
What’s more, the Post-Dispatch was in a black-majority city. A mostly white newsroom was a threat to the paper’s survival. I understood that. Even then.
A wide swath of U.S. companies has embraced affirmative action since the 1960s. Not as a do-good path to social justice, but as a strategy for widening their choices in a diverse talent pool and selling goods and services to as many people as possible, regardless of skin color.
More than 30 years ago, 3M decided to relocate its research center from Minnesota to Austin, Texas. The company wanted to recruit more chemists, engineers and planners from the ranks of minority university graduates.
3M wasn’t so much running away from a bad business climate in Minnesota as racing toward a Texas climate that was more racially diverse — and has warmer winters, to boot. Minorities who said “no” to job offers in Maplewood said “yes” to Austin.
Schools are the pipelines for better workers — and richer customers. Instead of eliminating affirmative action, private and public planners should be intensifying ways to foster diversity before, during and after college.
One variety of affirmative action comes with far less social benefit, however.
In this form of favoritism, Trump walks the walk. Especially, when it comes to his own klan. (If I’m spelling the word right, and I think I am.)
Being born rich is the granddaddy of head-start programs.
The son of a millionaire, Trump didn’t have to worry about paying the bills for an Ivy League education. After graduation, a job awaited at his father’s company.
In time, Trump’s own children succeeded through grit, determination and inheritance. Daddy’s Ivy League alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, beckoned.
When Trump hired for key posts in the White House, he shoved favorites — his daughter and his son-in-law — to the front of the line.
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is an affirmative action case on three fronts:
Possessed of a prep school record unmarred by brilliance, Kushner nevertheless got accepted to Harvard. It was mere coincidence that his father recently had given $2.5 million to the school.
After graduation, Kushner scanned the horizon for opportunities. After careful deliberation, he found one. It just happened to be in his father’s real estate business. Another affirmative action success story!
Later, Kushner became a point man for the Trump campaign. That got him into a meeting with Russians (some people have all the luck). Kushner also was asked to bring peace to the Middle East, revamp Veterans Affairs, cope with the opioid crisis and improve the food in federal cafeterias. (I made up that last one. I presume Trump made up the others.)
In the case of the Trump family, maybe the president is right. Affirmative action is very, very unfair. Alert the attorney general!
Mike Meyers, a former Star Tribune business reporter, is a writer in Minneapolis.