Chappelle is right: Trump needs to earn our support

— “Saturday Night Live” kicked off its first show after Donald Trump was elected president with the perfect host: Dave Chappelle. As both African-American and Muslim, Chappelle stands at the intersection of two discriminated against minority groups. If Chappelle had also been Hispanic and a woman, he would’ve been every group Trump demonized in this campaign rolled into one. (Well, almost.)

Chappelle concluded his opening monologue about Trump’s victory by saying, “I’m going to give him a chance, and we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one, too.” Chappelle may be right that minority communities could be willing to give Trump a chance, but only — and this is a really big but — if Trump gives minority communities that same chance.

Now just so it’s clear, Chappelle didn’t go on “SNL” with the intention of currying favor with Trump. Chappelle delivered a hilarious monologue that comically fileted Trump. He even joked, “America’s done it; we’ve finally elected an Internet troll as President.”

And then Chappelle did something that hopefully more will do. He made it clear that despite Trump’s win, we are not giving him a free pass for his expressed bigotry and sexism. Chappelle accomplished this with a daring joke, telling us that he was staying in a Trump hotel and when the housekeeper walked in his room, he grabbed her genitals. He then told her, “You know, boss said it was OK.” (On “SNL,” Chappelle actually used the same “P word” that Trump used in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape.)

After a litany of jokes about Trump, white America and Black Lives Matter, Chappelle closed his monologue with some deeply personal reflections. He spoke about recently visiting the White House and thinking about how there was a time that blacks couldn’t even visit the White House, let alone dream about being President. The comedian noted the fact we now have a black President “made me feel proud to be an American, and it made me very happy about the prospects of our country.”

In that context, Chappelle offered Trump a chance conditioned on him reciprocating and providing minorities with a similar chance.

Now there is a way that Trump could possibly get many — not all — of those in communities who opposed him to keep an open mind. But it will take more than Trump making a short victory speech, in which he said he wants to be “President for all Americans.” It will take action. And, to me, that is what Chappelle meant when he said we “demand” that you give us a chance. It’s not, as some headlines have suggested, that Chappelle was saying that he unconditionally wants to give Trump a chance. Rather, his point was that it was conditioned on Trump doing the same.

So, if Trump truly wants to be “our president,” then it’s time he visits the communities he has demonized and apologizes. True, Trump rarely ever apologizes, but that would be an excellent first step. He has to at least make it clear that he realizes his remarks about Latinos, Muslims, women, the disabled and Black Lives Matter were wrong.

Next, he should name real leaders, not his surrogates from these minority communities, to visible places in his administration. This will send a message that he is giving our communities’ respective voices a chance to be heard.

Now to be blunt, being Muslim American, I’m not even sure that even if Trump did both these things it would be enough for me to have an open mind. After all, during this campaign, Trump demonized us countless times, from lying that “thousands” of Muslims cheered in New Jersey on 9/11, to irresponsibly stating that “Islam hates us,” to wrongfully claiming that Muslims are not informing law enforcement when we see suspicious activity in our community. But it would be a good start if he did.

While most doubt Trump would follow either of these steps, most of us have been mistaken about Trump every step of the way. Maybe, just maybe, Trump will actually earn our support. But, as Chappelle said, that will require that Trump give us a chance, too. It’s now President-elect Trump’s move.

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

Stop treating Donald Trump like a Kardashian

— Donald Trump is intriguing, aggravating, nauseating, hilarious and just about every other word we have used to describe reality show stars.

You can love or hate Trump but he’s impossible to ignore. (Believe me, I have tried but failed miserably.) So I fully understand why the media covers everything and anything Trump, from his incendiary comments to his hair to his tweets.

But here’s the thing: Trump is not running to be king of the reality show stars. And the GOP presidential race is not a very special episode of “The Apprentice.” Trump is running for President of the United States. However, the media coverage of Trump, for the most part, has been more akin to covering the antics of Justin Bieber or a Twitter fight between Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.

We know far more about Trump’s fights with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly or his outrageous comments about Mexicans than we know about his views on the important issues facing America.

Don’t get me wrong — those remarks by Trump are important in assessing whether he has the temperament and character to be president. But that’s only one part of what we need to know about The Donald.

Just look at the media coverage of Trump since Thursday’s GOP debate. It’s been all about Trump’s fight with Kelly, from his comments during the debate to his tweets later that night attacking her: “Wow, @megynkelly really bombed tonight. People are going wild on twitter! Funny to watch.” And minutes later Trump tweeted: “I really enjoyed the debate tonight even though the @FoxNews trio, especially @megynkelly, was not very good or professional!”

The Trump-Kelly fight then escalated Friday night when Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon that Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever,” which many believed meant Trump was saying she was having her period. Trump denied that was what he intended, instead claiming he meant blood was coming out of her nose.

But the media covered this all weekend long like a typical celebrity brawl, asking questions like: “Will Trump apologize?” “Can Trump and Megyn Kelly ever work together again?” “Will Trump appear in future Fox News debates?” I was waiting for the question: Will Trump be voted off the island by other candidates?

Even at Thursday’s Fox News GOP debate, the moderators focused on Trump the person over what his policies would be if elected president. Just look at the questions he was asked in contrast to the other candidates.

Trump was quizzed about his past bankruptcies, when he actually became a Republican, his history of inflammatory comments, and whether he was really a liberal.

In comparison, the Fox News moderators questioned Jeb Bush on his support of Common Core education standards. They asked Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee about reforming federal entitlement programs. Scott Walker was questioned about “overly-aggressive police officers targeting young African-Americans,” and the list goes on.

Did Fox News grill Trump on his past comments and financial problems in the hopes of taunting him into offering up more inflammatory comments? Did they fear if Trump started talking wonky policy details it would be boring and people would turn off the debate? Or did they think Trump isn’t intelligent enough to grasp the nuances of public policy?

Only Fox News can tell us for sure. But what I can say is that a longtime Republican who has spoken to Trump on many occasions over the years assured me that Trump fully grasps the policy issues. He also made it clear that Trump is serious about wanting to be president and is in this to win.

And Trump is brighter than many political reporters give him credit for, so they should start asking him more policy questions.

In fact, on Sunday morning, Trump reminded us of his intellectual prowess with this comment to CNN’s Jake Tapper: “I went to the Wharton School of Finance, I was an excellent student, I’m a smart person.” (Trump also attended the college I graduated from, Fordham University, for two years before he transferred to University of Pennsylvania.)

At this point we know a lot about Trump the man. Isn’t it time the media pivot from focusing on Trump’s personality to Trump’s policies? I’m not saying we should ignore Trump’s future outlandish remarks — we can’t. But let’s hear much more about his policy ideas.

I bet millions of Americans would love to know Trump’s views on issues like job growth, countering gun violence, climate change, income inequality and the like. And knowing Trump, I bet he will still make the answers entertaining.

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s weekly program “The Dean Obeidallah Show.” He is a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean’s Report. He’s also the co-director of the documentary “The Muslims Are Coming!” Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Finally, an emoji black Santa

— The new emojis are here! On Thursday, Apple released a new version of its mobile operating system that includes more diversity than ever when it comes to the race, ethnicity and sexual orientation of its emojis — those cute little images that users can insert into text messages or emails when words alone just won’t cut it.

The reaction to this new lineup is, as should be expected with almost anything new in today’s hypersensitive climate, a range of cheers and jeers.

Why is any of this important, you may ask? For many, these images are far more than tiny clip art for texting. Rather they are seen as recognition that their own ethnicity, sexual orientation, race or even hair color is part of mainstream America — despite what others might say. This matters in a digital age where texting is how most people communicate and represent themselves dozens — if not hundreds — of times every day.

Think receiving a text of an image of a person smiling. Or more accurately, think of a white face smiling because up until Thursday’s update, all the emojis had white skin.

But that has all changed. Now there’s a range of emoji skin tones to pick from, including yellow, brown and black. I’m sure few people will be upset with this development.

But how about in December? Why? Now that will be able to choose the skin tones for each human emoji, and that will also include … Santa Claus. That shrieking sound you may have heard was from Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, who famously stated in 2013 that Santa Claus is absolutely, definitely and without a doubt a white guy. In fact, thanks to Apple, we may even see Brown Santa emojis this December. (Could that mean he’s a Muslim Santa?! Cue even more shrieking from Fox News.)

There is more. Apple has now given us gay and lesbian couple emojis, kissing with a heart over their heads. This inclusiveness was cheered by at least one gay news service on Twitter.

It’s not yet clear if a person who likes to use same-sex kissing emoji couples can be denied service by a person who objects on grounds of “religious liberty.” But it would be interesting to hear what any of the 2016 GOP presidential candidates might have to say about “gay emojis.” And I would predict some conservative will claim that the kissing gay emojis will turn children gay.

The fact is, when you embrace diversity, you will still leave out other minority groups. Redheads, for example, are pretty pissed off because there are no emojis featuring their hair color. In fact, supporters of a redheaded emoji have started a petition that has already garnered several thousand signatures.

Even expanding the flags represented by emojis, as Apple has done, comes at some peril. Apparently Canada is overjoyed that finally Apple has included it. But Armenians are not happy they were left out.

I must admit that being partially of Palestinian heritage, it’s heartening to see that despite the fact that some refuse to recognize a Palestinian state, Apple has chosen to now include a Palestinian flag emoji. Armenia, I feel your pain.

Of course the bigger question in the whole diverse-emoji issue is: What took Apple so long? How hard could it have been to add different skin colors to pick from?

That the company (finally) did is a step in the right direction: America’s demographics are changing, so our representations of who we are — even representations as tiny as emojis — should reflect this. Apple has “evolved” in showing diversity — from brown people to same-sex couples. Maybe “religious liberty” conservatives who discriminate will follow.

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s weekly program “The Dean Obeidallah Show.” He is a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean’s Report. He’s also the co-director of the documentary “The Muslims Are Coming!” Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.


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