No room for black Valdosta students in Trump world

Story highlights

  • Issac Bailey: Black students ejected from Trump rally; it fits pattern of selective bigotry Trump shows in campaign
  • He says Trump supporters ignore behavior of their frightened-bully candidate as he repeatedly kicks minorities to curb

Issac Bailey has been a journalist in South Carolina for two decades and was most recently the primary columnist for The Sun News in Myrtle Beach. He was a 2014 Harvard University Nieman fellow. Twitter: @ijbailey The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)Law enforcement removed a couple of dozen black students from a Donald Trump rally at Valdosta State University in Georgia on Monday. And while we don't know who ordered it or why they did it, it is becoming increasingly clear that the GOP front-runner's use of sometimes veiled, sometimes overt selective bigotry is the reason the incident has become more than just the latest "protesters get kicked out of campaign event" story.

Issac Bailey
This is what happens when you launch your presidential campaign on the backs of "Mexican rapists" and when a couple of your supporters say they are taking cues from you when they beat a homeless Hispanic man. A Secret Service agent choking a photojournalist on Monday at one of Trump's rallies is in line with the candidate's praise for dictators and fascists.
    It also fits right in with his calls to harm people in a variety of ways, including killing the family members of suspected terrorists and rewriting libel laws to shred America's constitutionally protected right to free speech .
    You can't play footsie with David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan, and dance an "I don't want to be associated with them" but "No, I don't have enough information about them to denounce them" two-step, and then get to run away from the consequences, no matter how often your numerous supporters defend you.
    It is true that people get thrown out of campaign rallies all the time, mostly because they are shouting down the candidate or being rowdy. But at Trump rallies, like one in North Carolina, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab and standing silently got kicked out, too. That makes sense, given that Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States, and a sizable chunk of his voters want Islam banned altogether. That's the religion of 3.3 million people in the United States.
    The sad irony is that none of those supporting Trump because he "tells it like it is" or "isn't politically correct" or is "tough" seems to notice that the man who was honored to have been praised by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is so weak that he can't withstand criticism of any kind. He quickly becomes a bully, or gets others to do his dirty work, when he's frightened by someone who doesn't simply fall in line.
    His supporters can't see that the man they are willing to follow off a cliff is little more than an insecure, scared little boy, as evidenced by his constant Twitter rants and obsessive name-calling, targeting anyone who dares challenge him. He is like a middle school bully who tries to strike fear into the hearts of adversaries with childish taunts, because he wants no one to know he has a glass jaw.
    But for the Republican Party, looking at what happened at Valdosta State University -- with those black students being ejected en masse -- the optics couldn't be worse.
    I came into this election cycle arguing that there was one GOP candidate, Rand Paul, who could chip away enough black voters to seriously challenge Hillary Clinton in the fall, because of his clear stance on confronting racial disparities in the criminal justice system. The party quickly tossed him aside and seems on the verge of choosing Trump instead, possibly handing him an insurmountable delegate lead Tuesday night.
    Trump's campaign claims it had no knowledge of those black students being thrown out of the rally. Even if that's true -- a claim that, as we have learned, should not automatically be believed -- Trump's decision to become a racial demagogue to win votes and increase his influence has guaranteed that those closest to him -- his enforcers -- would have gotten that message one way or another.
    Trump didn't have to directly order those students removed because they were black -- because he's spent the past several months finding inventive ways to kick minorities to the curb anyway.