Republicans are scrambling to deal with the statements which Donald Trump won’t stop making about Gonzalo Curiel, the judge picked to preside over an upcoming fraud trial, where plantiffs who claim they were ripped off by Trump University will air their grievances — even as Trump runs for president. In a self-serving move that seems much more aimed at avoiding civil liability for shady business dealings than at unifying Americans behind his candidacy, Trump claimed that Curiel cannot conduct a fair trial because he is biased. The “proof” Trump gave is unsettling: He said that Curiel could not try Trump impartially because he is of Mexican descent.
As the Wall Street Journal reported:
In an interview, Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said.
As usual, Trump muddled a legitimate point in a haze of provocative rhetoric. Judge Curiel should be looked at skeptically because of what he has done, not who he is. It is documented that Curiel joined and still belongs to the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association. That name is profoundly alarming: The National Council of La Raza is an extremist Latino pressure group that favors complete amnesty for illegal immigrants, expansive affirmative action for such newcomers, and a wide array of other policies based not on any moral or Constitutional principle — but instead on the tribal self-interest of Latinos, especially immigrants. (For a full, alarming account of La Raza’s radical agenda and links to Marxist organizer Saul Alinsky, see this article.)
Labor activist Cesar Chavez warned that the very term “La Raza” is “anti-Gringo” — in other words, racist. Trump critics have asserted that there is no direct organizational tie between the national tribalist group and Curiel’s organization. One wonders how media would have reacted if Trump belonged to a supposedly innocuous Anglos-only business group that called itself a “Klan.” Would reporters be satisfied if he answered, “Oh, we’re not that Klan. There’s no formal affiliation.” Indeed, Curiel’s group is affiliated with the National Hispanic Bar Association, which last year called for a boycott aimed at Trump’s business interests — interests akin to Trump University, which is the subject of the very case that Curiel is slated to impartially judge.
If only Donald Trump had said all this, and only this, instead of lazily citing Curiel’s ethnic heritage itself — which is no more inherently predictive of how he will judge a case than Clarence Thomas’s is.
What Trump actually said is profoundly unsettling. It suggests that American citizens in public life must be judged by their ethnic origin — in the same way that Japanese-Americans were during World War II, when Democrat president Franklin Delano Roosevelt forcibly interned more than 100,000 citizens and legal residents, regardless of whether or not they had shown any sympathies for the Japanese regime they had left behind.
In FDR’s defense, he was trying desperately to protect the country from sabotage in time of war, while all Trump aims to do is to win a fraud trial over a sleazy business that targeted gullible working class Americans — regardless of their race, creed or national origin. What Trump and Roosevelt’s stances do have in common is that they contravene American principles — which our Founders believed apply to every citizen equally, and our Constitution later extended to cover groups of people unjustly excluded, such as descendants of African slaves. At least FDR could honestly say he was busy protecting the nation.
Is Trump Just a Rough-Edged Burkean?
But of course that is what Trump claims, over and over again, on a wide array of issues from trade and foreign policy to immigration. Several sober conservative thinkers have pointed to Trump’s rise as proof that the “respectable” Right and the Republican party have abandoned the first task of conservatism in any country: prudently guarding the fragile fabric of society as it exists against radical changes (economic, social, and political) that might harm it in ways which intellectuals and policy wonks cannot predict.
That’s the conservatism of Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk, and it is every bit as race-neutral as neoconservative or Classical Liberal theories that elevate other priorities, such as “national greatness” or limited government. Irish, Jamaican, or Korean conservatives could sign on to such a creed — though the status quo each is guarding would be rather different.
What makes conservatism complex for Englishmen and Americans is that each of the societies we defend can be seen as a Goose that lays a Golden Egg — a shining set of principles including ordered liberty, political equality, race-neutral justice, and economic innovation. These principles sometimes demand that we make the Goose a little uncomfortable, in its own best long-term interests. Indeed, those principles are the very reason that the Anglosphere came to dominate the global economy and become the gold standard of good governance — instead of Holy Russia, the Japanese Empire or Greater Germany.
The Americanism First Committee
But what if we become so fixated on the sheen of the Golden Egg that we do real harm to the Goose? Too many “Golden Egg” conservatives see America as an ideology first, which just happens to have attached itself to a country, as Marxism did to Russia (though Americanism yielded better political and economic outcomes). If you see America this way, you are liable to view your opponents — who might be motivated by prudence and legitimate, Burkean caution — as “un-American” tribalists, Babbits, or bigots.
Mainstream conservatives have heaped far too much scorn on Trump’s supporters, and some of it even spilled over onto those of us who backed Senator Ted Cruz — a man of thorough Constitutional principle, who actually kept the vital tension between the sheen of the Egg and the health of the Goose.
Meanwhile, the Left in America from academia to many of our churches holds the Golden Egg in rank contempt, as useful only for cramming down the Goose’s throat to choke it to death. Progressives see no contradiction in calling others “racist” on the thinnest possible evidence, while at the same time demanding that books be purged from curricula simply because their authors (such as Chaucer) were white.
I once sat in room full of priests in Baton Rouge and fumed as the official speaker invited by our bishop explained that it is by definition impossible for non-whites to practice racism — because that term only applies to the activities of the nationally privileged “group.” None of the clergy seemed to realize that this definition is both Machiavellian and Marxist, completely at odds with Christian principles of human dignity. Nor do the Protestant ministers who approved this charming document (h/t Allen West). See especially point #10.
It is statements like this which give rise to movements like Trump’s. (For more from the author of “Trump Has Jumped the Great White Race Shark, but What About Judge Curiel and La Raza?” please click HERE)