Jennifer Weiner has an Op-Ed in the NY Times today about how our society forgives the crimes of rich, wealthy and well-connected men. Invariably, their families pull out all the stops to remake their public image as “well-meaning kids” who happened to have made a mistake.
There’s a long list of such “kids” who commit serious crimes in their 30s /40s and walk away form them. We can see this dynamic at work in the PR campaign for Donald Trump Jr.
We’ve all been having a good chuckle watching our president and his surrogates characterize Mr. Trump’s 39-year-old son, the married father of five, as an “honest kid,” a wide-eyed innocent whose only sin in agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected lawyer and others was, perhaps, an endearing overenthusiasm, like when a puppy won’t stop licking your face, or colluding with hostile superpowers.
The real scandal though, is how often actual children, usually poor and/or black, are painted as dangerous and never given the chance to grow up.
In his assertions that Donald Jr. is “a good boy,” “a good kid,” President Trump and his camp are invoking potent precedent about how we’ve been taught to see whiteness and maleness and when — if ever — we expect boys to become men. People of color, of course, never receive the leeway that “good kids” like the 39-year-old Trump son seem to get.
When police officers shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, for the sin of playing in the park with a toy gun, their excuse was that they thought he was an adult suspect.
Tamir Rice wasn’t given a chance to grow up. Donald Trump Jr. enjoys the privilege of never having to grow up, something he inherited from his father. America, we have a lot of work to do.