After black comedian Steve Harvey and football great Jim Brown met with Donald Trump, some leftist blacks erupted in fury, including Marc Lamont Hill, who said, “It was a bunch of mediocre Negroes being dragged in front of TV as a photo op for Donald Trump’s exploitative campaign against black people.”
Hill’s remarks provoked a storm, prompting Martha McCallum of Fox News to interview Georgetown sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson and Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro on Tuesday. McCallum interviewed Dyson first; his remarks claiming that his objections to Trump interviewing black celebrities were based on their lack of knowledge of substantive issues were dissected and blown apart by Shapiro immediately afterward.
Dyson, who is black, began by claiming that whites have not been taught to think about race properly, intoning that in his new book what he wanted to do was to “invite white Americans into a conversation about race to think about how it’s constructed, about how white innocence, about white fragility, about white vulnerability are all thrown in there together, and how sometimes white people get resentful, understandably, being asked to talk about a subject they have no skills to talk about because they’ve not been practiced in it.”
Dyson added that Barack Obama’s presence “provoked a kind of nastiness, a viciousness. For instance, you can have legitimate disagreements with Barack Obama and not be accused of racism, but there’s no denying that a lot of the sentiment against Obama was racially driven.”
When asked about Lamont Hill’s characterization of blacks meeting with Trump as “mediocre Negroes,” Dyson stated:
Look, there’s nothing wrong, Steve Harvey, as was said, is a remarkable man and a successful man. There’s no problem with that; the problem is Donald Trump, not Steve Harvey. Look, if you want to have a conversation with white America, do you go to Miley Cyrus or Mitch McConnell? The point is, why do an end run around Mitch McConnell or John Boehner or Paul Ryan, and speak to, say, I don’t know, George Clooney?
McCallum asked, “Are you saying Harvey is not the person for that conversation with Donald Trump?”
I’m saying that if you’re talking about serious issues of weight, values and gravitas with black America . . . Steve Harvey is not the point man for discussing policy in black America. I’m saying that there are many people who are practicing that, who are dealing with that every day, who have strategic advantages because they’ve been thinking about this: Steve Harvey is the attempt by Donald Trump to avoid with some serious weight and theological and theoretical and sociological analysis about what’s going on in the community.”
McCallum then interviewed Shapiro, asking him to comment on Dyson’s remarks. He responded:
First of all, I think that anybody who says that someone is a “Mediocre Negro” because they disagree politically makes you less than a mediocre person. It’s really quite a disgusting thing to say, and I don’t think it’s intellectually honest for Professor Dyson to be talking about how they were just wanting someone with more expertise, because I really doubt if Donald Trump had invited Thomas Sowell, for example, or Jason Riley of The Wall Street Journal to talk about housing policy they would have been supremely happy either. What this really is about is that there’s a cadre of people on the left who get very insulted any time a Republican reaches out to a prominent black person who doesn’t immediately slap that hand away and say, “Listen, you guys are the bad guys,” because too many folks on the left like to racially polarize in order to make hay politically and that is really quite terrible.
The fact is, that if we’re going to build a better country, we’re going to need to reach across the aisle, not just on racial lines but along political lines, and labeling everybody one way politically based on the color of their skin is the essence of racism. The idea that your race is inherently connected with your political thought is inherently racist, and the left refuses to acknowledge that, unfortunately.
McCallum asked, “What can Donald Trump do to sort of bridge that divide?”
“The idea that your race is inherently connected with your political thought is inherently racist, and the left refuses to acknowledge that.”
Listen, I think Trump is actually doing the right thing on a lot of these things. When Trump invites people like Steve Harvey, or when he invites Jim Brown, or when he invites any of the other people he’s been inviting since . . . Martin Luther King III? Is that somebody that lacks gravitas? When he invites all these people to Trump Tower to talk about this stuff I think he’s actually attempting to reach out.
Now, whether you think that’s PR or not, it doesn’t really matter; the bottom line is what would Trump do differently if he were actually reaching out as opposed to actually doing PR? I’m not sure he would be doing anything differently. The idea that the left can object to celebrity involvement in politics – I didn’t see them whining and crying when Meryl Streep was ripping Donald Trump up and down over at the Golden Globes; I saw them celebrating her heroism for wearing a $12,000 ball gown in front of all her friends.