What’s the difference between Donald Trump and your uncle who stares at everyone’s breasts at Christmas, and spends the rest of his year calling in to talk-radio shows?
Not much these days, though the ersatz developer turned reality-show “star” has an ugly history of death penalty rants that makes his outburst Tuesday afternoon noteworthy.
“An absolute disgrace,” is Trump’s verdict on last week’s Norway massacre, “but maybe the most disgraceful thing,” says the Donald, is that the shooter won’t be killed. They “ought to bring back the death penalty,” says the Donald in his latest “From the Desk of Donald Trump” posting on YouTube. “They ought absolutely execute this maniac.”
Also “absolutely a disgrace,” says Trump, shifting with no transition and no sense of irony, is the murder conviction of American Amanda Knox in Italy. She should be freed immediately, said the Donald, calling the prosecutor “a maniac” and “a whacko.” Knox in fact may be let go thanks to a new finding that the DNA evidence used to convict her may be contaminated.
Trump should know from wrongful convictions. In 1989 he spent $85,000 to place full-page ads in the Times, Post, Daily News and Newsday with the headline: BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!
Those ads were placed after the Central Park Wilding case that shook the city, after the indictment but before the conviction of five young black men of raping a white jogger.
In the ad, Trump says that while Mayor Koch “stated that hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts… I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence.”
The ad continues: “How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told that their civil liberties end when an attack on our safety begins!”
The boys convicted of the attack, who Trump had wanted the state to kill as an example to the others like them, were freed in 2002, after serial rapist and murderer, Matias Reyes, confessed that he had been the attacker and DNA evidence backed his account. (The five teenagers had been convicted mostly on the basis of their taped confessions.)
“No,” Trump said when asked last year if he would apologize for the ads, after one of the released members of the “Central Park Five” called on him to do so as he upped his profile and promoted his reality show with idiotic talk of a presidential run. “They confessed. Now they say they didn’t do it. Who am I supposed to believe?”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 26, 2011