The Alpha Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity at Indiana University in 1974, with Gonzalo Curiel circled. (watchtheyard.com)
Recently in San Diego, Ca., Donald Trump took to the stage to take aim at a new target. This time Trump sets his sights on the federal judge presiding over the civil case against the now-defunct Trump University, citing the judge’s Hispanic ethnicity in an attack at a campaign rally prior to the June 7 California primary.
“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump — a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel. And he is not doing the right thing,” Trump told supporters, kicking off a 12-minute rant on why Judge Curiel was biased against him and should recuse himself from the case. “We’re in front of a very hostile judge. The judge was appointed by Barack Obama, federal judge. Frankly, he should recuse himself because he’s given us ruling after ruling after ruling, negative, negative, negative,” Trump continued. “What happens is the judge, who happens to be — we believe — Mexican. Which is great. I think that’s fine. You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK?” he said.
“I’m telling you, this court system, judges in this court system, federal court, they ought to look into Judge Curiel. Because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace, OK?” Trump said.
Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel was born in East Chicago, Indiana. Curiel’s parents, however, are Mexican, according to a 2002 New York Times report of the judge’s work in the Southern District of California’s narcotics enforcement division. Curiel received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Indiana University in 1976 and his Juris Doctor from the Indiana University School of Law in 1979. He is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and was initiated at the Alpha Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity in 1974. In 1977, Curiel along with a frat brother became a founding member of the Bloomington, Ind. Kappa Alumni Chapter, according to watchtheyard.com, a Black Greek life web site.
Trump’s comments have been denounced by Democrats and Republicans alike as unnecessary and outright racist.
On June 7 Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, addressed the comments made by his party’s nominee for president. “I disavow these comments. I regret those comments that he made,” Speaker Ryan said. “Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” Ryan continued. “I think that should be absolutely disavowed. It’s absolutely unacceptable. But do I believe that Hillary Clinton is the answer? No, I do not.”
Former Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, himself an Hispanic and obviously not fazed by the Ryan and Trump insensitivity, has been one of a few individuals to come to Trump’s defense. In an Op-Ed in the Washington Post, he wrote, “…it might not be unreasonable for a defendant in Trump’s position to wonder who Curiel favors in the presidential election. These circumstances, while not necessarily conclusive, at least raise a legitimate question to be considered. Regardless of the way Trump has gone about raising his concerns over whether he’s getting a fair trial, none of us should dismiss those concerns out of hand without carefully examining how a defendant in his position might perceive them — and we certainly should not dismiss them for partisan political reasons.”