If this were a normal Memorial Day, I’d simply and briefly state the obvious, that this is not just an opportunity to barbecue. If one photo can remind us what the day is really about, I nominate this one. It truly saves 1000 words.
But this is not a normal Memorial Day. A “vile creature” now represents the Republican party, and last Friday, in a 12-minute racist rant, he soiled the meaning of this holiday.
By the way, that “vile creature” description comes to us courtesy of Tony Fratto, a Republican who has served as an assistant Treasury secretary and deputy press secretary to George W. Bush. His full quote, in a press interview the other day: “There’s never been a more vile creature to ever run for president than Donald Trump. I think too many people tend to treat him like a normal candidate and look at things he says and does and try to find normal explanations for them, but there aren’t any normal explanations for them because he’s a monster. And monsters don’t do normal, rational things.”
No, they do irrational and dangerous things – like what Trump did Friday when he stood at a podium and stoked racist hatred against a federal judge.
American soldiers have fought and died in defense of our core belief that people should have the opportunity to thrive in this country regardless of race, color, or creed. That’s what Memorial day is all about. It honors the soldiers’ ultimate sacrifice. On Friday, Trump trashed that sacrifice.
As you know, the Republican nominee has been hit with two massive lawsuits that accuse him of defrauding the students who attended his fake “Trump University.” One of those lawsuits is moving forward in federal court in California. The judge has scheduled a trial for late November. The judge’s name is…uh oh…Gonzalo Curiel.
Now you see where this is going.
Trump on the stump: “I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel.” (Right on cue, boos from the crowd.) “He is not doing the right thing. And I figure, what the hell, why not talk about it for two minutes.”
He talked about it for 12 minutes. For instance: “I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself. I’m telling you, this court system, federal court, they ought to look into Judge Curiel. Because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace, OK?”
The “total disgrace,” apparently, is that the judge has refused to throw out the lawsuit. The “total disgrace,” apparently, is that the judge believes that the people who paid up to $35,000 in tuition, and got nothing in return, deserve to have their day in court.
But eventually, Trump got to the crux of his incoherent complaint: “What happens is the judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican. Which is great. I think that’s fine.”
Memo to the racist demagogue: Gonzalo Curiel was born in Indiana.
Curiel got his B.A. from Indiana University. He got his law degree from the Indiana University School of Law. He practiced law for seven years at a firm in Indiana. He was an assistant U.S. district attorney for 13 years. He’s a former chief of the federal Narcotics Enforcement Division, prosecuting members of the drug cartels in southern California.
Soldiers, including many Hispanic Americans in this era of the volunteer military, have fought and died so that Hispanic Americans could have the opportunity to rise as far as Gonzalo Curiel. It soils this holiday to hear him described as a “Mexican” – which was not only a lie (just the latest of the demagogue’s serial lies), but, coming from Trump’s mouth, was meant to be a pejorative.
Unfortunately for Trump, our system of government still works. On the same day that Trump race-baited Curiel, Curiel OK’d the release of internal Trump University documents. Citing judicial precedent, Curiel said that a defendant’s public prominence tilts the scales in favor of public access. And, as Curiel also noted, this particular defendant has “placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue.”
That Hoosier judge makes me proud to be an American. Happy Memorial Day.