Movie Reviews

Opinion: Jared Kushner deserves an Emmy Award

There isn’t yet an Emmy Award for “Excellence in Cramming an Unprecedented Number of Half-truths, Dog Whistles and Red Herrings About Race Into One Sixty-Second Soliloquy (Morning TV News),” but Emmys, if you were watching, you found your winner this week.

(Really, I’m just curious who is friends with both Kushner and the guy who wrote “F*** Tha Police,” but I digress.)

Kushner then pivoted from responding to a legitimate question about the meeting to spitting out a dizzying jumble of words dripping with racial grievance. It was so chock-full that it can only be done justice by being broken apart, line by line.

Kushner: “One thing we’ve seen a lot in the Black community, which is mostly Democrat…”

Here we go. Anyone looking for sincere comments about race from the First Son-In-Law could have tuned out here. This isn’t about racial reconciliation, but about owning the libs.

“President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about.”

Trump’s policies? The tax cuts that disproportionately benefited whites over Blacks? The revoking of rules focused on reducing racial bias in school discipline? The literal endorsement of police brutality? The push to repeal the Affordable Care Act — a decision that will disproportionately harm Black people?

Economic inequality, disparate treatment, police brutality, unequal access to health care — the kinds of ills Mr. Kushner will never face — are the very systemic issues Blacks have been “complaining” about for generations. By no objective measure has the President’s policies made them better in any meaningful way.

“But he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful.”

Anyone with a Black grandmother could have heard her responding to Kushner’s line here with: “Oh, bless that boy’s heart.” Kushner’s insult to Black people is rooted in lies — the lie that we live in a pure meritocracy and the lie that systemic racism somehow does not exist and does not still plague us in 2020.

Of course, people should work hard and are responsible in some ways for their futures. But the data make obvious how systemic issues compound racial inequality in America. For instance, according to 2020 data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, lenders deny mortgages to Black applicants at a rate 80% higher than that of whites. There is a growing wage gap between Blacks and whites. According to a study by the Harvard Business School, even having a “Black-sounding” name on a resume can lead to fewer job interviews.
The disparities even stretch to the highest levels of the corporate world, where only three Fortune 500 companies have Black CEOs. A figure like that simply cannot be a function of Black executives not trying hard enough. And as a former prosecutor, I should mention clear racial disparities in policing and sentencing. For instance, Blacks and whites use marijuana at about the same rate, yet blacks remain 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. I could go on and on.

Kushner’s point, echoed by so many, pins blame for America’s yawning inequality on the wrong people.

“And what you’re seeing throughout the country now is a groundswell of support in the black community…”

According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, Biden leads Trump among Black voters 81% to 5%.

“…because they’re realizing that all the different bad things that the media and the Democrats have said about President Trump are not true…”

This line just recycles an old presidential lie.

“…and so, they’re seeing that he’s actually delivered, he’s put up results.”

It is hard to view this statement outside of the context of the President’s repeated claim that he has done more for Black people than any other President than Lincoln. While we have certainly had Presidents who behaved in a more overtly racist manner than Trump (starting with slaveholders Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Polk, Taylor, Johnson and Grant), it is an insult to suggest that somehow President Trump belongs in a special class.
Trump certainly deserves credit for signing a sentencing reform bill. But let’s not get carried away. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race.

Or, to be blunt, simply by being the only Black man to ever ascend to the presidency, Barack Obama has done more for Black people than Donald Trump ever will in his life. Nothing will ever change that.

“Unlike most politicians who have been in Washington for decades who talk and say all the right things President Trump may not always say the right things, but he does the right things.”

Whether Trump does the right things is a question for voters to decide next week. But let’s agree with Kushner on one point: Trump certainly doesn’t always say the right things. He has made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims since taking office. And to top it off, Kushner’s comments are the latest example of an ally of the President giving a pass to his birtherism, bullying and bigotry as just “not saying the right things” or speaking his mind.

It is hard to see Kushner’s comments as anything other than an attempt to solidify President Trump’s white-male base the week before an election. But it’s remarkable to see how a series of tossed off comments that were supposed to be a list of accomplishments could have been so ignorant, deceitful and insulting to Black people at the same time.


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