Piers Morgan’s defense of Trump misses vital context

Piers Morgan is a long-term intimate friend of Donald Trump who has previously said Trump was “a pretty smart guy who knew how to play that boardroom of very varied human contestants like a concert conductor. I saw someone who had a warmth, a good humor, a sense of perspective. … the reality of a Trump presidency, if it came to it, would be an awful lot more moderate.” However, Morgan’s most recent defence of his “friend” Donald Trump has been with regard to the death of Muhammad Ali.

They say one should never speak ill of the dead, but clearly the Mail Online writer Piers Morgan did not get that memo. His recent comments that “far more inflammatory/racist things about white people than Donald Trump ever has about Muslims” reveal not only his ignorance about the nature of Trump’s Islamophobia but also his persecution complex and sheer cowardice.

Morgan’s comments after Ali’s death resemble those which have been spread around the right-wing blogosphere after Muhammad Ali’s death, Breitbart and Britain First in particular. While Ali as a Muslim spoke out vociferously against Islamic extremism, it is true that Ali employed anti-white rhetoric at times as a spokesperson for the Nation of Islam (as did Malcolm X)— rhetoric which he later backtracked on. However, there is a vital difference in context as to why Trump’s comments are much worse than Muhammed Ali’s. As barrister Miranda Brawn said to Morgan on Good Morning Britain:

“If you look at the interview where he said that, he said we’ve got to get the black people sorted first. We’ve got to integrate black people and make them have a sense of pride. He was one of the first black people to say being black is beautiful.”

Yet this is not the only context which matters. Muslims are an oppressed group within the US, and constituted less than 1% of the US population in 2010 — as opposed to Christians, who represented over 70% of the US population that year. Therefore, Morgan as a Catholic and Trump as a Presbyterian form part of the dominant religious culture. As Judy Katz wrote in the 1970s, it is important to recognise that a minority culture culture “can be prejudiced against [the majority] but clearly do not have the power as a group to enforce that prejudice”. Katz was talking about white people and people of colour, but the logic still stands here. Prejudice against a majority culture, however distasteful it may be, is not in the same vein as prejudice against a minority culture.

Yet it is cowardice for Piers Morgan to bring this matter up after Ali’s death, and especially hypocritical considering Piers’ doting column on Ali.

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