Along with many other black writers across the country, I have made former presidential candidate and now HUD Secretary Ben Carson the object of my disappointment in aligning himself with Donald Trump.
Carson has been rightfully skewered for his ignorant political views and selling his soul to identify with a political party that doesn’t give a shit about black lives in any meaningful way. Carson’s political alignment has yielded him millions of dollars and a cushy job he’s clearly not prepared to do. His previous career as a brilliant surgeon who saved thousands of lives lamentably seems like a footnote in history. Carson’s decision to work for Donald Trump will forever stain his legacy.
Now we’re seeing another interesting racial dynamic play out in White House and it involves Jewish Americans, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn. These two men have watched Donald Trump run one of the most racist, hate filled presidential campaigns in modern history, seen him tweet out a reference to swastika to attack a political opponent, and seen film of Neo-Nazis using a Hitler salute saying “Hail Trump.”
Mnuchin and Cohn are aware that the KKK and other white supremacist groups see Jewish Americans as the enemy to white protestant power and view Donald Trump as a friend to their cause. We can assume they are aware Trump has read only two books in his life -- his own autobiography, 'The Art of the Deal' and, at least according to his ex wife, a book on Hitler's speeches. They’ve watched as synagogues across the country were vandalized and buildings defaced with symbols of hate during the early days of his presidency, and seen Trump delay his condemnation in the following days. Mnuchin and Cohn have stood by his side as Trump attempted to put his dislike for non-white foreigners into practice with an executive order banning world citizens from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States. They have said nothing as Hispanic communities around the U.S. fear middle of the night raids and sweeps that leads to deportation and separation from family and friends. Mnuchin and Cohn saw the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, VA with angry white men and women shouting “Jews will not replace us” in plain view. Donald Trump’s initial public comments were meant to downplay their desire for Jewish annihilation, despite the fact that the marches ended in the murder of Heather Heyer and dozens of others injured. And in the midst of a catastrophic hurricane happening in Texas, Trump pardoned a known white supremacist, Joe Arpaio.
Both Mnuchin and Cohn are keenly aware of the history of racial and religious discrimination that resulted in millions of Jewish people murdered in Europe by Adolf Hitler. I would also assume Mnuchin and Cohn are also aware of Jewish institutions, organizations and synagogues committed to maintaining the collective memory of this human evil, and making sure it is never repeated again. Yet both men remain loyal to Donald Trump.
The criticism and letter written by 300 Yale classmates of Mnuchin asking him to resign because of Trump’s response to Charlottesville, have fallen on deaf ears. Both men have responded with statements condemning bigotry. But in the end, Mnuchin and Cohn said they will continue to work for bigoted Donald Trump and his racist administration.
Their decision reminds us that you cannot separate the moral and ethical compass of individuals and the choices they make from power, money and ambition. Both men have worked for arguably the most powerful investment bank in the world Goldman Sachs and made millions of dollars during their business careers. They have a vested interest in shaping policy that will likely be favorable to their business interests.
Steve Mnuchin and Gary Cohn are two prominent Jewish Americans who appear to view the financial benefits of working for white supremacist Donald Trump to be worth tarnishing their own sense of morality. The memory of racist persecution appears to have been conveniently repressed from helping them take a principled stand against this administration and resign from their positions. They have failed to confront the reality that Trump embodies some of the worst human qualities in a leader who has presided over a huge rise in nationwide racial tension.
As their boss continues to foment hate, violence and division across the country, Steve Mnuchin and Gary Cohn quietly soldier on within the Trump White House – souls compromised, credibility damaged, but financial portfolio intact.
Follow me on twitter:@robcovingtonjr
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