Society

Civil Rights Museum Wrong To Deny Trump A Visit

| by Nik Bonopartis
Donald TrumpDonald Trump

North Carolina's International Civil Rights Center and Museum was founded so "the world never forgets" the Greensboro Four, the determined black college students who forced the U.S. to witness the ugliness of segregation by refusing to leave a Woolworth lunch counter until they were served.

They started on Feb. 1, 1960, and within a few short days had attracted the attention of the local media and the support of sympathizers, who accompanied them to Woolworth and stayed there in solidarity.

The Greensboro Four's efforts became a symbol of the Civil Rights movement, playing a major part in ending segregation and starting the country on a path to racial healing. Now the museum -- also in Greensboro -- says it serves "as a testimony to courage and the potential of unified people on the right side of history" and is "a gift from the citizens of North Carolina to the nation and the world."

Indeed, it's a gift to everyone -- except Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

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Museum co-founder Earl Jones rejected the Trump campaign's request for a visit, according to a Sept. 25 story in The Hill.

The Republican businessman's staff, Jones said, was "rude" and made unreasonable demands, like asking the museum to close its doors to other visitors during the duration of Trump's visit.

"The approach, the type of disrespect, pretty much a demand and bullying us to use the museum in their manner and their way in their time, it was inappropriate and I think it's probably reflective of the type of insensitivity of civil rights and human rights that's reflective from Trump over the years," Jones said.

Only the museum's staff and Trump's campaign can say for sure what happened when the campaign asked to visit the museum. But one thing's for sure -- it's not unreasonable for a presidential candidate's detail to ask for help making a location secure, and that usually involves closing the location off to the public for a few hours.

Both candidates have Secret Service details, as is common for major party nominees, and Secret Service agents typically arrive a few hours ahead of their charges to get a situational read on the area, familiarize themselves with any buildings the candidate is expected to visit, and coordinate with the people who run those buildings to make sure the visit is safe and free of incidents.

That's not a partisan thing. It's not an ego thing. It's just a reality in modern politics and the modern world, when the men and women who protect our presidents and presidential candidates know there are unstable people out there who would rather vote with a bullet instead of a ballot.

Usually, a presidential or candidate visit is a win-win. Such visits almost always inject cash into the local economy as nearby stores and restaurants benefit from the increased traffic and business, and a major figure's appearance can have a lasting effect.

One good example is the Taylor Gourmet, a sandwich shop President Barack Obama visited in 2012, where he had lunch and met with the owners of small businesses. The shop's name began trending on social media, its Facebook reach increased by about 250 percent, and the shop owners said orders for a certain sandwich on their menu more than doubled after Obama ordered the sandwich for his lunch, according to The Huffington Post. Likewise, the same report notes, an Obama family vacation stop propelled business at a grill and bar in Hawaii. Just one such visit is more free publicity than a restaurant could ever hope for.

The inconvenience of temporarily closing up shop is worth it, business owners will attest. And at least Trump wasn't interfering with people's right to vote, as Bill Clinton did during the Democratic primaries in March, when he had a polling station shut down for hours so he could campaign for his wife, likely violating election rules in the process. (Although, being a Clinton, he was "gently reminded" to move more than 150 feet from the polling location, per a report in Mediaite.)

From the words Jones chose in his interview with The Hill, it's clear he rejected Trump's visit on political grounds. He doesn't like the Republican's messages and policies, and rejecting Trump was his petty way of making a tiny mark in the day-to-day horse race with five weeks to go until the vote.

Jones is wrong, but at least it seems like he plans to be consistent, telling The Hill that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton isn't welcome, either.

"We have equal treatment for everyone coming to the museum and we welcome everyone to the museum," Jones said, "but we are not going to allow the museum to be used for political gain."

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: The Hill, The Huffington Post, Mediaite, Fox News / Photo credit: Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons

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