Austin R. Cooper Jr.ColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

COOPER: The Sin, Hypocrisy and Racism of White Privilege

The U.S. Constitution gives three eligibility requirements to be president: one must be 35 years of age, a resident within the United States for 14 years and a natural born citizen. The term “natural born citizen” is not defined.

Based on these criteria, I cannot argue that President Donald Trump does not meet the basic criteria to hold office. At least on paper.

However, here is what I know: If former President Barack Obama had not been elected in 2008, America would have never sunk as low as she did in 2016 and elected someone of such low character, humanity and intelligence to the highest office in the land as the White House’s current occupant.

Had Hillary Clinton won in 2008 and served two terms, the GOP would have nominated, and possibly elected, Jeb Bush or John Kasich or even Ted Cruz in 2016. But not Donald Trump. He would have been laughed off the stage as an illiterate, racist and unqualified joke.

Even the most faithful and uneducated White viewers of “The Apprentice,” residing in the poorest areas of the country, would have said, “Oh, hell no” to a Trump candidacy. And rightfully so.

Are a majority of the president’s supporters racist? After all, the president won because he did a much more effective job of appealing to the economic concerns of struggling low- and middle-income Americans. Nor can anyone argue that Russians prevented Clinton from campaigning in Wisconsin or too few Democrats from going to the polls and voting in key battleground states.

Regardless, there is evidence that far too many supporters of President Trump are, indeed, hypocritical racists. How else can one explain his popularity in the GOP and simultaneous appeal to White supremacists? Why are racists not openly comfortable in the Democratic Party? Not that my party is perfect. Far from it.

But how else to explain the president’s policy of separating immigrant children from their mothers? Or calling African-American NFL players “sons of bitches” for choosing to protest police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem?

Name one White athlete who has been the subject to such abuse. Does anyone believe that had Charlie McAvoy or Blake Wheeler chosen to kneel at professional hockey games to protest the president’s tax cuts for the rich, that the president would have publicly insulted them, as well as their mothers, in such an offensive manner?

Many of us have heard John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon cursing in private on released White House tapes. Yet America now has a president who shamelessly curses at rallies in front of children.

How low-class for any president!

Some might very well ask, “What does any of this have to do with White privilege?” If you are White and asked that question, you are a benefactor of White privilege.

I ask, would you have:

• Been offended had President Obama seen “good on both sides” of an anti-White rally in Charlottesville?
• Considered it un-American had President Obama cozied up to President Vladimir Putin?
• Remained supportive of President Obama had any of his inner circle consistently referred to him as an “idiot” and “mentally unstable”?
• Continued supporting the 44th president, despite an inability to remain on point and coherent when speaking, with no apparent grasp any complex policy issues?
• Been silent while close to 3,000 White American citizens in Alabama died after a hurricane due to a slow and poorly coordinated response from Washington?
• Approved of President Obama calling Fox News “enemies of the people,” in a democracy?
• Even considered voting for Senator Obama had he launched his campaign by stating, “Whites are bringing their drugs, crime and rapists into our communities”?

If President Obama had committed even one of the above actions, he would have correctly been labeled an incompetent racist and traitor. And impeachment proceedings would have promptly begun against him, former first lady Michelle Obama, Sasha and Malia.

The hypocrisy and double standard for this particular presidency should be shameful for all Americans!

I agreed with President Obama when he said, “Sometimes the backlash comes from people who are genuinely, if wrongfully, fearful of change. More often, it’s manufactured by the powerful and the privileged to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical, because that helps them maintain the status quo. It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause.”

President Trump has single-handedly undignified the office of the presidency. In November, Democrats have the opportunity to begin righting this ship by voting in historic numbers. If we do not, it will not be the president’s fault. Just ours.

White privilege and its cousins sin, hypocrisy and racism must be permanently eliminated for the good of the country.

Cooper is president of Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.

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