Ernie Lewis

Ernie Lewis

In her op-ed ("Don't determine vote by false labeling, Aug. 14), Phyllis Sower assures us that President Donald Trump is not a racist. She must be right, because she says she has “not seen or heard any proof to support such a claim.” She must be right because one of our two major parties, the “party of Lincoln,” would not have nominated a racist candidate, nor would we the American people have elected one.

So is there no proof, as Sowers contends? Let’s check his record throughout his adult life.

In 1973, when Trump was 27 and president of his company, President Richard Nixon’s Department of Justice filed a civil rights suit against him and his father for violation of the Fair Housing Act. The lawsuit was based upon allegations of widespread discrimination in renting to tenants. Trump, in essence, refused to rent any of his 14,000 units to African Americans. Trump’s response? He settled the case, promising to change his practices. Yet, in 1978, he was again sued by the Department of Justice for violating the terms of the settlement by not renting to African Americans. Is that proof of racism?

How about when Trump took out a full-page ad in 1989, costing him $89,000, calling for the death penalty for the young men charged with raping the Central Park jogger? The fact that the four young men were African American and Latino didn’t mean that he was a racist, did it? And when they were cleared by DNA evidence and released from prison and Trump didn’t take back what he said and instead said that he thought they were still likely guilty, saying “these young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels,” was that proof of racism?

Well, how about when Trump began to assert loudly and often that Barack Obama was not born in America, that he was in fact born in Kenya. Trump based his presidential run on being the “birther-in-chief,” there denying the legitimacy of our first black President. Does believing in a racist conspiracy and loudly championing it make one a racist?

In 2015, when he came down the escalator in Trump Tower to announce his candidacy, he said that Mexicans were rapists and drug dealers and “some must be good people.” He also called for a “complete ban of Muslims” in our country. Was beginning his presidential campaign about race? 

Within months of winning the presidency, Trump said that a judge should not hear a case involving him because he “was a Mexican” even though the judge was born in the U.S. Proof?

And who can forget Charlottesville, when hundreds of white supremacists marched through the streets chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” Trump’s response? “There’s good people on both sides.” Good white supremacists? David Duke and the Daily Stormer liked what they heard. 

How about when he tweeted that four congresswomen should “go back where they came from”? The fact that all four were women of color wasn’t related to race, was it? And when he stood there during a North Carolina rally beaming to the chants of “send them back,” does that constitute proof?

And have you noticed how often Trump accuses leaders who are African American, like Maxine Waters and Don Lemon, of being “stupid” or “ignorant?"

Remember when Trump complained that people were coming to America country from “----hole countries,” including Haiti and countries in Africa? Coupled with his longing for people to immigrate from Norway and similar countries? 

So, here’s a test for you: What is the predominate race in Haiti and Africa vs. Norway? Combine that with his language about an “invasion” and an “infestation” of persons coming from Mexico and Central America, all inhabited predominately by persons of color, and what do you see?

Sower contended in her letter that Obama “did more to stir up racial disharmony” than Trump has, but she gave no examples. She could have remembered his gracious speech in Charleston, S.C., after the nine parishioners were shot down by a white supremacist at Mother Emmanuel Church, spontaneously singing "Amazing Grace." Did that “stir up racial disharmony”?

Sower states that this is really all about freedom of speech. I agree that we must have robust First Amendment freedoms. But speech that is racist at its core is not and cannot be beyond reproach.

Isn’t this more than sufficient to prove that Trump is a racist?   

Ernie Lewis is a retired public defender who has lived in Frankfort since 2005. He can be reached at

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