Dr. Boyce Watkins – Professor, Syracuse University
Posted: 05/ 1/11 03:51 PM ET
Like nearly every other black man in America, I’ve been taken aback by the manner through which Donald Trump has used racist code language to undermine the presidency of Barack Obama. After first wondering if he was born in the United States, Trump has made reference to Obama playing too much basketball to pay attention to the price of gas and even questioned whether or not he truly earned the grades necessary to get into the Harvard Law School.
Even if the president somehow slithered his way into Harvard, I can’t imagine an unqualified student being chosen as the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. Trump’s questionable behavior is being called for what it is, for even Bob Schieffer from CBS has made reference to Trump’s “ugly strain of racism.” Many of Trump’s fellow Republicans are running for the hills, as one of their most visible leaders has engaged in incredibly odd behavior.
But when I analyze Trump’s statements objectively, I must confess that the Business School professor in me doesn’t understand his choices one bit. One of the first rules of “Corporate America 101” is to avoid any serious controversy, especially religious or political, for this additional volatility almost never helps the bottom line. Cases in point are the recent boycott against Chick-fila by the gay community for standing against gay marriage, and the price that Oprah Winfrey paid for jumping out to support President Barack Obama. Mind you, Winfrey’s price was minimal because her behavior was carefully planned, but Trump seems to be determined to destroy every business in which he’s currently invested.
Viewers are now running away from The Apprentice television show in droves, with advertiser boycotts being launched by several groups across the nation. Also, I can’t imagine any Obama supporter being excited about staying in a hotel with the name “Trump” in front of it. Trump’s tirades will cost him billions, his shareholders and employees will suffer, and after it’s all said and done, he still won’t have a chance to become president.
I seriously wonder what’s happened to Donald Trump. The calculated behavior that helped him rise to the top of the business world is nowhere to be found as he runs from one network to another pursuing his vendetta against President Obama. Could it be ego? Could Trump be losing it? Perhaps he is simply a disgruntled white male who has a tough time transitioning to a growingly-inclusive America.
Whatever the reason for Donald Trump’s most recent behavior, the price is going to be steep. His status as a cultural icon, political leader and corporate captain are all in jeopardy and probably won’t ever recover again. If I had to be honest, I’d say that deep down, there’s a part of me that feels sorry for Donald Trump. Well, just a little bit.
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