Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump asked in 2013 why it was OK for Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) to say “cracker” but Paula Deen was ripped in the media for using the N-word.
“Paula Deen was absolutely crucified, what they did with her,” Trump said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.” “I don’t know what even happened to her. I see everybody dropped her. She has really got some problems. It’s amazing.”
Trump was on the show to comment about Rangel using the term “cracker” to refer to members of the tea party in an interview with The Daily Beast.
In 2012, a former employee sued Deen and her brother for racial and sexual discrimination in the workplace. The lawsuit alleged that during a conversation about what kind of wedding Deen would like her brother to have, Deen said she wanted “a bunch of little n****rs to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties.”
Despite Trump’s implication that “cracker” is a racist term, the origins of the word aren’t rooted in racism. As MTV host Franchesca Ramsey explains in a viral video, the word is short for “cracked brains” and was coined by British aristocrats to “disparage lower-class people as dumb and lazy.” It was also used by enslaved Africans and northern abolitionists to refer to slave masters, as shorthand for “whip cracker.”
While race and class often overlap, and the term has become racially charged over time, “cracker” has never been used as a racially dehumanizing term for white people, nor was it ever linked to a system that disadvantages them socially, politically and economically because of their race.
Still, co-host Steve Doocy called the backlash against Deen a “stunning double standard.”
“You know, [Rangel] is on the left, and then a couple of months ago you had the instance with Paula Deen where she said one word thirty years ago, and she was crucified, lost her business deals. They took her to task, but Charlie Rangel gets a pass,” Doocy said.
“Yeah, and nothing will happen to Charlie,” Trump said. “I see it all the time. If you’re a Republican and you make a statement like that, it’s over. I mean, you are finished. If you’re a conservative — by the way, the further right you are, the worse it gets. So, it’s a very rough — it’s a double standard. It’s a very rough double standard.”
Watch the entire “Fox and Friends” interview above.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.