The Santa Clara
February 15, 2018
“BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!”
All four of New York City’s major newspapers ran a full page advertisement with that headline in May of 1989. It was in reference to a group of five young men—four black and one Hispanic—accused of assaulting and raping a jogger in Central Park.
Below the headline was a letter which partially read, “Mayor Koch has stated that hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so. I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer.” The five were later convicted and each spent between six and 13 years in prison.
In 2002, all of them were exonerated by DNA evidence.
Donald Trump recently tweeted, “People’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused—life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
Those are some strong words coming from the man who paid for that advertisement.
Donald Trump’s concept of “due process” is, in itself, an absolutely flagrant hypocrisy. The president’s belief in fair judgment is never consistent. He only wants everyone to entertain both sides of the story when it suits his moral or political interests. Otherwise, the accused is guilty by default.
Trump’s tweet is in reference to allegations of domestic abuse against both former White House Staff Secretary, Rob Porter, and one of the president’s former speechwriters, David Sorensen—both of whom have since resigned from their positions.
Trump has been quick to come to his former employees’ defense. When Porter resigned, the president had nothing but good things to say about him. “He did a very good job when he was in the White House,” Trump said. “And we hope he has a wonderful career and he will have a great career ahead of him.”
This trend also carries over to allies outside the administration. After former Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly reached settlements with five women who accused him of sexual harassment, Trump called him a “good person” and said that he did not think O’Reilly “did anything wrong.” He even went so far as to suggest that, in spite of overwhelming evidence, O’Reilly should not have settled those lawsuits.
I am not saying definitively that O’Reilly, Porter, Sorensen or any of the other Trumpfriendly alleged perpetrators are guilty. That is not the point of this article. I am trying to show that there is a stark difference between how the president handles allegations made against his friends versus those levelled against his opposition.
Case in point, Bill Clinton. Along the campaign trail, Trump consistently made reference to allegations of sexual misconduct against Clinton. He retweeted the Amazon link to former campaign advisor and known conspiracy theorist Roger Stone’s “The Clintons’ War on Women,” a book accusing the former president of being a serial rapist. He even brought three of Clinton’s alleged victims to a debate.
Donald Trump presumed Clinton’s guilt and actively campaigned on its basis. Where, exactly, is the due process in that?
And it does not stop with Bill Clinton. Where was the due process during the years of Trump publicly insisting that Obama’s birth certificate was fake?
Where was it when he alleged that Ted Cruz’s father was potentially involved in JFK’s assassination, based on an article he read in the National Enquirer?
Where was it when he accused Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower?
Where was it when he publicly demanded the death penalty for five innocent young men?
Every victim of every outlandish, baseless claim the president has ever presented as fact deserved due process. Unfortunately, by his standards, that kind of treatment is reserved for political allies and dear friends.
The cases of Porter, Sorensen, O’Reilly, Clinton and the Central Park Five just go to show that in Donald Trump’s book, the difference between being a scourge on society and a “good person” is a purely a matter of how much he likes you.
Jay Fuchs is a senior communication major.