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  1. #1
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005

    Rise of Donald Trump Divides Black Celebrities He Calls His Friends

    Rise of Donald Trump Divides Black Celebrities He Calls His Friends


    Not long ago, Donald J. Trump and Russell Simmons were close.

    Mr. Simmons, the hip-hop mogul, and his brother Rev. Run would fly on Mr. Trump’s private plane to Mar-a-Lago, the real estate developer’s lavish Florida resort. Mr. Simmons even had a playful nickname for Mr. Trump: Richie Rich.

    When Mr. Simmons was going through a divorce, Mr. Trump’s teasing phone calls lifted his spirits.

    “He’d say funny stuff,” Mr. Simmons said, adding that he had put Mr. Trump on speakerphone so that others could hear Mr. Trump’s jovial taunts about his ex-wife’s getting the upper hand in the divorce. “He’d say, ‘Oh, she killed you.’ ”

    But the bond between the two men came apart this month: After Mr. Trump called for Muslims to be barred from entering the United States, Mr. Simmons denounced his onetime friend, telling him in an open letter to “stop fueling fires of hate.”

    Mr. Trump’s rise in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination — which has also prompted accusations that he is using racially charged language and has drawn comparisons to the segregationist George Wallace — has created some discord among African-American celebrities whom Mr. Trump has called friends. The billionaire developer has long courted personalities from sports and entertainment — including the boxer Mike Tyson, the former N.B.A. star Dennis Rodman, and the rapper and producer Sean Combs — and has made them part of his world in strikingly personal ways.

    Some of Mr. Trump’s African-American friends and acquaintances say they are mystified by the candidate’s sweeping attacks on minority groups. In addition to his comments about Muslims, he has said Mexico sends “rapists” and other criminals to the United States, has exaggerated the role of blacks in violent crime and suggested that a Black Lives Matter protester who interrupted one of his campaign rallies “should have been roughed up” by his supporters.

    While Mr. Simmons has denounced Mr. Trump, others are sticking by him, saying that they were drawn to him in part because of his unvarnished personality — and his loyalty — and that they would not abandon him now.

    “Hey, that’s my man. That’s who he is,” said Don King, the boxing promoter, discussing what he called Mr. Trump’s “outlandish” remarks. “To me, Donald is Donald. That’s not a presidential endorsement, but it is a humanistic endorsement.”

    Mr. Tyson, who is Muslim, recently defended Mr. Trump, telling the website TMZ, “Hey, listen, anybody that was ever president of the United States offended some group of people.”

    While Mr. Trump’s statements have become more incendiary since his campaign began, his worldview was already on display over the years in his interactions with African-American friends, who have at times been forgiving of remarks that struck other audiences as insensitive.

    “He’d say ‘the blacks,’ ‘the Jews,’ that stuff,” Mr. Simmons recalled. “But it’s the same way people speak bluntly — like, very ’hood. It’s semantics.”

    Mr. Simmons did not publicly shun Mr. Trump in 2011 when the real estate developer showed support for those challenging President Obama’s right to American citizenship and to the presidency, which many black leaders saw as an effort to undermine the legitimacy of the first African-American in the White House. After Mr. Trump spoke of a “Muslim problem” in a television interview that year, Mr. Simmons arranged for him to meet with Muslim clerics to gain more sensitivity about their faith.

    Herschel Walker, a football great who played for the New Jersey Generals when Mr. Trump bought the team in the 1980s and who considers him a friend, said some of the candidate’s recent statements were being taken too literally.

    “I don’t think Donald is against Muslims, or blacks, or Hispanics,” Mr. Walker said. “I do know he is going to try to make this country safe.”

    Mr. Trump has long relished the company of famous and successful people, seeing in their accomplishments a reflection of his own greatness, those who know him say. He likes to brag about his closeness to celebrities, once saying of Michael Jackson, who kept a home in a Trump building in Manhattan, “He follows me around, in the sense that he likes what I have.”

    Mr. King and others say Mr. Trump tends to size up people based on whether he sees them as being of his stature, rather than according to their race.

    “What matters to Trump is success,” Mr. King, 84, said in a phone interview, recalling fondly how their friendship grew from ringside encounters at boxing matches in Atlantic City. “If you are achieving success, you meet the test.”

    Jacqueline M. Williams was an executive assistant at the Trump Organization in the mid-1980s. She remembered a “warm, professional environment" there but said she found Mr. Trump’s recent statements “shocking.” Credit Heather Walsh for The New York Times

    The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been friendly with Mr. Trump over the years but at times battled with him, was more critical. He suggested the billionaire was drawn to accomplished African-Americans for a different reason: to help his businesses.

    “Black celebrities and luminaries live in a world that is much more engaging of Trump, and parallel with Trump’s world, than those of us that have been in politics and civil rights on the ground for as long as Trump has been out there,” Mr. Sharpton said. Mr. Trump has little understanding of the lives of the vast majority of African-Americans, he said.

    “It’s not like there’s a Trump building in Harlem,” he added.

    Mr. Trump, 69, is no stranger to racial controversy. He was raised in an exclusive, nearly all-white section of Queens in an era when tribal politics dominated New York, and in the 1970s, the Justice Department accused him and his father of bias against black tenants in buildings they owned. They reached an agreement with the federal government in 1975.

    In 1989, Mr. Trump took out full -page ad vertisements in four New York newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty after five men — four of them black — were arrested on charges of brutalizing and raping a white woman who was jogging in Central Park. Decades later, the five were exonerated.

    As his businesses expanded in the mid-1980s, it was mostly white staff members who worked on the top floor of the Trump Organization’s offices on Fifth Avenue, recalled Jacqueline M. Williams, who was an executive assistant in her 20s at the time. Still, Ms. Williams, a Jamaican immigrant, remembered a “warm, professional environment.”

    Ms. Williams, who left the company to pursue further education, said she found Mr. Trump’s recent statements “shocking” given her positive experiences.

    In recent years, Mr. Trump has been accused of racial insensitivity by contestants on his reality show, “The Apprentice,” on NBC. One African-American contestant, Randal Pinkett, who worked for the Trump Organization for a year after winning the show’s fourth season, called race a “tremendous blind spot” for his former boss.

    Still, several high-profile African-Americans, including some who have condemned his campaign remarks and his promotion of conspiracy theories about Mr. Obama’s eligibility for the presidency, appear torn about whether Mr. Trump is, at heart, a racist — or whether he is cynically playing to the anxieties of white Americans at a time of great demographic change to bolster his political standing.

    Their experience is complicated, too, by Mr. Trump’s extensions of kindness to them.

    “I knew him in another life,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights activist, who has known Mr. Trump for three decades and who once used office space on Wall Street donated to him by Mr. Trump. “I have never seen him in this light before.”

    Mr. Jackson said Mr. Trump’s words on the campaign trail were “devastating, painful and hurtful.” But when asked if Mr. Trump was a racist, Mr. Jackson said, “I don’t want to use that language.”
    Mr. Trump with Mike Tyson in 1988. Mr. Tyson, who is Muslim, recently defended the candidate. Credit Richard Drew/Associated Press

    Mr. Sharpton said his godfather, the singer James Brown, once told him it was permissible to perform at a property owned by the Trump Organization because Mr. Trump was “trying to evolve” on race. But Mr. Sharpton said he did not know whether Mr. Trump was racist, adding, “I don’t think it matters.”

    “What he’s saying appeals to racists,” Mr. Sharpton said. “He’s too smart to not know what he’s doing.”

    Polling on African-Americans’ views of Mr. Trump is scarce because so few vote in Republican primaries. But in a nationwide poll of voters released this month by Quinnipiac University, 88 percent of black respondents answered “no” when asked if Mr. Trump “cares about the needs and problems of people like you.”

    Still, those who have befriended Mr. Trump spoke with genuine affection for him in interviews, saying they had been invited into his world of jet-setting, opulent homes and a welcoming family.

    Mr. Walker and Mr. Trump, for example, came from very different places — Mr. Walker is from a tiny town in Georgia — but became fast friends. Mr. Trump once accompanied Mr. Walker and his wife at the time on a visit to Disney World. Mr. Walker said he had taken Mr. Trump’s children to the zoo and had visited his homes in Connecticut and Mar-a-Lago.

    “We stayed together, and we always talked,” Mr. Walker said. “We were always doing something. As of today, I call him a friend.”

    Mr. Simmons said he had met Mr. Trump in the 1980s “at the clubs.” “There were hot events, whatever, the cool events, where we spoke,” he said.

    Over the past 20 years, he said, they spent more time together, with Mr. Simmons getting to know Mr. Trump’s family and spending time at Mar-a-Lago.

    “He was a good host, that’s for sure,” Mr. Simmons said. “You’d be in the steam room and he’d come in, fully clothed, and say, ‘You guys O.K. in there?’ Just a nice guy.”

    And Mr. Trump did not even mind his Richie Rich nickname, Mr. Simmons said. Above all, he said, Mr. Trump was fun.

    Mr. King, who over the years has found himself entangled in public disputes, hostile lawsuits and accusations of fraud, said Mr. Trump “would always be there” to defend him.

    “He’s not afraid,” Mr. King said. “He’s a counterpuncher. You throw a punch at him, he’s going to throw one back.”

    These days, Mr. King has Mr. Trump’s back. While acknowledging that Mr. Trump had made mistakes in his campaign, he said Mr. Trump was not a racist, but was merely misunderstood.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    Actually, Donald Trump has never made an "incendiary" comments against any race.

    When he made his comments about illegal aliens from Mexico, he was talking about them because they're illegal aliens many of them coming in here to run drugs and commit crimes. That's just a fact no one can deny. If they were law-abiding people they wouldn't be here in the first place.

    When he said Muslims should be banned from entering the US until our representatives figure out what is going on, he was referring to Muslim immigrants, not Muslim Americans, not diplomats from Muslim countries, not visitors coming in on business visitor visas who work for legitimate companies, and this announcement was because of national security and public safety, not because of religion. After all, when your "religion" becomes a threat to national security and public safety, it's no longer a religion, it's a potential crime.

    When he made the statement about the protester being roughed up, Trump didn't tell anyone to "rough him up". People in the crowd did this and that was he was interrupting the rally, not because of his race. Trump spends a lot of money on these rallies, so he has every right to be upset when people disrupt them, but of course he doesn't really want them hurt or "roughed up". He shouldn't have said that but it didn't have anything to do with the person's race, it had to do with the disturbance at the event.

    The media has been so irresponsible in reporting on these episodes and through this bad dishonest reporting, the media has actually hurt people, causing blacks, Mexicans and Muslims to feel and even believe erroneously that the next President of the United States may not like them, when he loves them, says so all the time, and means it.

    What the press has done on these episodes is like a trampy husband stealer telling the wife her husband sleeps around when he doesn't. Lies like this have terrible human consequences and the press needs to stop it or they'll wake up one day and find out they're Public Enemy No. 1.
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  3. #3
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    Jan 2012
    A lot of people are very stupid today, brainwashed.....they can't think for themselves. Who in their right mind would dismiss the radical islamic threat? They should have freedom to enter any country?? Think NOT!

    Beheadings, James Foley an American for one, going house to house to take YOUNG girls for sex slaves while they take Viagra, killing Christians, etc. The atrocities are beyond the pale and should have been stopped long time ago but we have a president that is an enabler as are the EU leaders with the Saudis behind it.
    Judy likes this.

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