A Question for Trump Critics: What If Kathryn Steinle Had Been Black? - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
A Question for Trump Critics: What If Kathryn Steinle Had Been Black?

The murder of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle at the hands of an illegal immigrant is outrageous.

Before we get to Donald Trump, let’s start there, shall we?

Steinle’s murder — in cold-blood, at random, and in broad daylight in San Francisco — is made even more despicable by the fact that her alleged murderer — identified by shocked passersby who caught the killer’s image on their cell phone — was quickly captured and revealed to be one Francisco Sanchez. Sanchez is a seven-times convicted felon and five-times deported illegal immigrant from Mexico. 

And on top of that outrage? That would be the disgraceful performance of some Republican presidential candidates — shamefully playing the Latino race card for votes. Abandoning every last core value of the Lincoln/Reagan Republican Party and the conservative movement. And that’s before you get to those race-card playing businesses who have piously — slyly is a better word — jumped into the fray. The thought police are now out for blood — and a fate once reserved for bakers of cakes on gay marriage is now used to target a maker of empires over his opposition to illegal immigration. The Gestapo mindset spreads.

Question: What if the murdered Kathryn Steinle had been a young black woman? Instead of being a young white woman in San Francisco, what if the scenario changes? Let’s do just that.

Steinle is now a young black woman — let’s make her a young minister of a church in Philadelphia, Mississippi. On an evening stroll with her father and a friend — in broad daylight — a young white man whom she does not know suddenly walks up to the young Pastor Steinle, pulls a gun, shoots her once in the chest and flees. Pastor Steinle’s stunned and frantic father tries to save her as his beloved daughter lies on the ground begging “Dad! Help me!” Horrified eyewitnesses turn their cell phones on the killer and he is quickly identified and captured by the police a few streets away. 

Taken to the hospital, the young minister — the prime of her life ahead of her — dies in her weeping family’s arms. The killer, it turns out, is a white Southern racist named Frank Smith. A seven-time convicted felon, Smith has a history of racist views, is suspected of burning crosses on the lawns of black residents, and once served jail time for the burning of a black church. He also has acquired a few drug convictions along the way.

America learns Smith flies the Confederate flag from the antenna of his pick-up truck. The Justice Department had opened a federal civil rights investigation of Smith, but received minimal cooperation from Philadelphia and Mississippi authorities. Allegations emerge that even while Smith’s history was known to the local sheriff, he was quietly protected by white city leaders who took a lenient view of white-on-black crime.

The shooting of Pastor Steinle in Mississippi follows the shooting weeks earlier of nine black church members in Charleston, South Carolina by the white pro-segregationist racist Dylann Roof.

Now. What would happen in that scenario? It isn’t hard to imagine. 

The murder of the young black Pastor Steinle would rocket across the media universe for days. Mississippi and the entire South would be fingered yet again for its racist history. Al Sharpton would be on scene within-hours. Presidential candidates would be required to comment. President Obama would be making a personal statement. Perhaps, as he did in South Carolina, Obama would even go to Philadelphia — the same town where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964 by Klan members doubling as the local sheriff’s office — to deliver the eulogy for Pastor Steinle. The move to stamp out the Confederate flag would ramp up. Business after business that had any connection to the flag — merchandisers, NASCAR, and more would put out statements condemning the killing of Pastor Steinle. They would want to do everything possible to disassociate their business from any connection perceived or imagined to white southern racists.

Stunningly, to continue our imagined scenario, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is on the defensive because of the shooting. For weeks rival Donald Trump had been calling attention to crimes being committed by white racists against African-Americans across the country. 

Trump called out his rivals on the issue, urging them to speak out. But Jeb Bush had taken umbrage at Trump’s attacks. While in college Jeb Bush had met and later married a young white woman from a prominent Philadelphia, Mississippi family. Mrs. Bush is the former Scarlett Davis. Her family ties to the South run deep, with her great-grandfather a brother of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy in the Civil War. And in the weeks leading up to the murder of Pastor Steinle, Jeb Bush has been deeply critical of Trump on his charges about white southern racists.

The Associated Press reports of an angry Bush: “Bush’s wife was born in Mississippi, and when he was asked if he took Trump’s remarks personally, he responded: ‘Yeah, of course. Absolutely. And a lot of other people as well.’”

Bush wasn’t alone in being on the defensive in the wake of Pastor Steinle’s murder. Other GOP presidential hopefuls, one past and another present, had been attacking Trump. Mitt Romney — who carried Mississippi in the 2012 election with over 55 percent of the vote amid allegations that he was using what disdainful liberal political commentators called a “Southern Strategy” — said Trump had made a “severe error.” Florida Senator Marco Rubio said: “Trump’s comments are not just offensive and inaccurate, but also divisive.” Former New York Governor George Pataki called on all Republican candidates to repudiate Trump, saying:

“My fellow Republicans like to talk about how we have to appeal to the white southern vote if we are going to win back the White House. They speak in a southern drawl, boast about ‘telling it like it is,’ or counsel to not be afraid to lose the primary to win the general — yet so far have been silent when it comes to denouncing these sad and divisive remarks…”

Only Texas Senator Ted Cruz defended Trump. “When it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific,” said Cruz, adding “I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address white racist crime.”

End of scenario. The reality?

The “Pastor Steinle” of this scenario was neither a pastor nor black. Kathryn Steinle, 32 years old, was a white woman who worked at Medtronic, the medical device company. She was not killed by a white southern racist and seven-time felon named Frank Smith. She was murdered — at random and in cold blood in front of her father — by a seven-times convicted, five-times-deported 45 year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico named Francisco Sanchez. Unlike the fictitious white southern “Frank Smith” who, in our scenario, had been shielded from earlier crimes by sympathetic and white racist Mississippi officials, Francisco Sanchez was in fact shielded by left-wing San Francisco authorities who had declared San Francisco to be a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants. Thus shielded, Sanchez was set free — and he used his sanctuary freedom to kill Kathryn Steinle — an American citizen.

Looked at this way? Can you imagine the uproar if in fact Steinle had been a young black pastor murdered by a white racist in the style of Charleston killer and white racist Dylann Roof? Of course you can.

The real life outrage here is that when one simply changes the race of the victim and the killer, suddenly normally respectable people like Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio and George Pataki — not to mention institutions like Univision, NBC, Macy’s and NASCAR — sound appallingly racist. There is no way in the world these Republican candidates would say what they have said if the victim were black, the killer a white man with a record as a racist, and the country were in the middle of an epidemic of white racist men running around killing African-Americans.

Yet in the world of Republican presidential candidates there is Donald Trump calling repeated attention to the fact that illegal immigrants are in fact pouring over our southern borders and, exactly as he has said, committing serious crimes. This is a fact — a well and easily documented fact long before the real Kathryn Steinle lost her life at the hands of an illegal immigrant. And — yes, let’s say it — that illegal immigrant had his freedom to murder because of liberals who made San Francisco a sanctuary for criminals. And lets not forget the President of the United States who encouraged illegals to think they could come here illegally in the first place.

But if one but changes the race of these criminals — if in fact they were not illegals from Mexico or points south of the Mexican border — but white, American southern males like Dylann Roof — there would be — there should be — hell to pay. One can no more imagine Jeb Bush defending Dylann Roof or the culture that produced Dylann Roof than the man in the moon. Marco Rubio wouldn’t be caught dead upbraiding Trump for his attacks on white racist killers and criminals. Mitt Romney couldn’t face the ghost of his civil rights-supporting late father George when he turned out the lights.

More than safe to say, Univision wouldn’t be breaking its contract with Trump, NBC wouldn’t be firing him, and Macy’s, Camping World and NASCAR wouldn’t be running from Trump either. 

So what is it that makes Trump’s mere recitation of hard, documented fact when it comes to illegal immigration and crime — now vividly and outrageously illustrated by (yet again) the murder of Kathryn Steinle — so different?

The answer is very disturbing. Very. It is, plainly put, the race card. The Democratic Party’s long belief in judging Americans by skin color is now being channeled by the Party of Lincoln.

If in fact Mexican Francisco Sanchez were white southern Frank Smith and his victim were black, these people and institutions would be so public so fast in their condemnations it would make heads spin. But they are not doing this. When Trump discusses the issue with documented facts — Jeb Bush plays the race card. Using his own wife! 

This is appalling. Is that what Jeb Bush stands for, really? Really? Is this what the GOP Establishment now stands for? Lincoln’s party is now racism-lite? If you’ve got the right skin-color you can commit any crime, you can murder, you can rape — and the GOP will look the other way because it wants doesn’t want to offend Latinos who are legitimate — legal — American citizens? Wow. 

We are not in the endorsement-of-candidates business here. Not Donald Trump, not anyone. We are in the business of promoting conservative principle, one of which most assuredly is, as we are all reminded over the holidays, that “all men are created equal” and that America is a nation of laws based on a Constitution. This being a country that is 100% populated by the descendants of immigrants not to mention legal immigrants of recent vintage, illegal immigration is — illegal. A violation of law. Just like murdering black churchgoers in South Carolina or a young white woman in San Francisco. And giving a pass to them or anyone else who commits a crime because of skin color is flat out racist — morally wrong.

It doesn’t take rocket science — or maybe for some people it does — to understand that the global Trump Organization is composed of people of all colors and all races. How stupid can one be not to understand that whether it is a Trump property in the continental states of America or in places like Puerto Rico, Panama, Brazil, Uruguay — gasp! — Trump employs Latinos? And lots of them. Not to mention Asians in places like South Korea and the Philippines and Arabs in places like Dubai? 

Donald Trump’s slogan in his campaign is “Make America Great Again.” Not “Make White America Great Again” or “Latino America” or “Black America” or “Asian America.” Just “America.”

Unfortunately, as the utterly senseless and outrageous death of Kathryn Steinle illustrates all too well, too many people in the leadership of the Republican Party and in the world of big business don’t agree. And choose to play the race card.

Shame on them.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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