A friend of mine said something to me last week which has kept me thinking. He said, "Why do you think the media lets Donald Trump say anything he wants, but has basically censored Minister Louis Farrakhan? Why do you think it's OK for Trump to say hateful, racist, sexist things, and it's not OK for Farrakhan?"
I didn't know. I honestly had never thought about it.
Both Trump and Farrakhan "tell it like it is" according to their followers. Both men have a penchant for speaking to the hearts and spirits of people who are mostly ignored, groups of people who feel marginalized and forgotten, and who are angry about it.
Both men are angry, and make no bones about it.
But Trump gets a pass; the media pretty much looks the other way and refuses to call him to accountability for what he says, while Farrakhan has been vilified and marginalized.
Nothing Trump has said has made the media act like responsible journalists. Most of those who interview him seldom really challenge him and when they do, they allow him to talk over them. They cannot get a word in edgewise. There have been exceptions. Fox anchor Megyn Kelly dared challenge Trump in the first GOP debate on the statements he had made about women. Her challenge caused him to go ballistic, and to attack her in a most disturbing way. As a public figure, seeking the presidency, he had no right to say, in response to her questioning of him, that she had blood "coming out of her whatever."
Trump is so bothered by Kelly that he now says he will not take place in the upcoming FOP debate in Iowa. What she seems to be is determined not to let him bully her.
George Stephanopoulos also challenged Trump and Trump was questioned when he said he saw Muslims dancing in the streets after 911.
But little stops this man and his rants. Not even his latest statement about being able to go in the middle of 5th Avenue in New York and shoot someone and still not lose supporters has garnered a full blown challenge. Anchors have been giggling and have been shaking their heads, but they have not been willing to really challenge him. It is troubling to watch and to listen to.
Trump has been disparaging against women, Mexicans in general and illegal Mexican immigrants in particular. He has put down Sen. John McCain as a war hero. He has proposed to ban all Muslims from this country. He talked disparagingly about fellow GOP presidential rival Carly Fiorina, saying, "look at that face!" He likened Dr. Ben Carson, also in the GOP race, to a child molester. When journalist Tavis Smiley challenged the media for not challenging Trump, Smiley got a dose of "Trumpitis" as well, as the presidential candidate called Smiley a "hater and a racist" after Smiley said that Trump was a "racial and religious arsonist."
None of what Trump has said, in person, in front of cameras or via Twitter has been enough for the media to turn away from him. And Trump persists in his tirades; not even being compared to Hitler by some has been able to tame him.
Farrakhan, on the other hand, has been soundly sanctioned by American media. (A friend of mine reminded me that it is not just the mainstream media which has ignored Farrakhan, but the black media as well.) The head of the Nation of Islam has been unabashed about his disgust with white supremacy and Jewish people. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Farrakhan "... is an anti-Semite who routinely accuses Jews of manipulating the U.S. government and controlling the levers of world power. Farrakhan blames Jews for the slave trade, plantation slavery, Jim Crow, sharecropping and general black oppression."
In 1996 in Chicago, Farrakhan said, "And you do with me as is written, but remember that I have warned you that Allah will punish you. You are wicked deceivers of the American people. You have sucked their blood. You are not real Jews, those of you that are not real Jews. You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell. But I warn you in the name of Allah, you would be wise to leave me alone. But if you choose to crucify me, know that Allah will crucify you."
Clearly, Farrakhan's words and beliefs are anti-Semitic, and he clearly hates white supremacy, but are his words and beliefs any more or less toxic than Trump's? Is Farrakhan's dislike of racist white people and Jewish people any worse than Trump's dislike of Mexicans and Muslims? Is Trump's virtual silence on issues that affect black people in this nation any less an indication of racial hatred against black people than Farrakhan's open dislike of Jewish and racist white people?
Aren't both men Xenophobic? Is Xenophobia coming from a white man less toxic than Xenophobia coming from a black man?
What is up with America's media? Is the fact that Trump is a wealthy white man, a celebrity, who brings ratings up for any media operation the reason he is basically given a free pass?
It is all very troubling to note the double standard. Trump may very well win the presidency of this nation, and only God knows what will happen to the country should that happen. The support of Trump has shown the widening underbelly of America, an underbelly which is racist at its core. Evangelicals and fellow Conservatives have been largely silent as he has bellowed his racist and sexist rants; it's only as he has attacked fellow candidate Ted Cruz that there has been a Conservative backlash against him.
But on letting there be free speech and giving vent to those who "speak their minds" when it comes to racism and sexism, there is a clear double standard between whites and blacks. Trump is free to say whatever and Farrakhan is not.
In the land of the free and home of the brave, what is up with that?