Trump is what happens when white male entitlement goes unchecked

If America operated with any shred of fairness, Donald Trump would’ve been “fired” a long time ago.

Even though the Republican presidential nominee has repeatedly denigrated women, black people, Muslims, Mexicans, and people with disabilities during this election cycle, he maintains a solid base of support. Yet it took leaked “Access Hollywoodvideo from 2005 showing Trump and host Billy Bush making lewd comments about women — including remarks that should be understood as sexual assault — for just some politicians and would-be voters to reject him.

Among those still defending him, former presidential candidate Ben Carson characterized the comments as “normal” conversation between men. But there’s nothing normal about men bragging that their stardom allows them to “do anything” they want to women, as Trump said, including grabbing them “by the p—y.”

A vote for Donald Trump is a vote against my vagina

While the glorification of rape culture should indeed be the central focus in denouncing Trump’s behavior, there’s another major issue that merits discussion after the video leak. Trump and Bush, and many men like them, behave with the knowledge that their wealth, their maleness, and their whiteness allows them to get away with actions most people would find reprehensible.

They’re what happens when white male entitlement goes unchecked.

If President Obama committed even a fraction of Trump’s indiscretions while running for office eight years ago, it’s almost guaranteed that his candidacy would’ve been dead on arrival. This isn’t to say that everyone should have the same right to commit grave offenses, pay lip service with staged apologies, and continue misbehaving anyhow. But it’s what Trump’s been allowed to get away with doing, further proving that people of color don’t get the same benefit of the doubt, nor are they afforded social graces that white men constantly abuse in the public eye.

For example, in Hollywood, famed filmmaker Roman Polanski is a convicted child rapist, yet his career has barely skipped a beat, and he fled the United States decades ago to avoid serving serious jail time. In the decades since the conviction, he’s had numerous successes, including the 2002 drama The Pianist, which won him an Oscar for best director. He’s made a number of other films since, and many A-list actors seemingly have no problem still working with him.

Meanwhile, the rape allegations against Bill Cosby and Nate Parker have caused them to suffer major career blows — and rightfully so, given the circumstances and public scrutiny. Yet when powerful white men are accused or convicted of anything remotely similar, they don’t endure the same damage as their black counterparts.

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Let’s not forget that Trump himself remains ensnared in a lawsuit stemming from an alleged 1994 rape of a 13-year-old girl. New reports revealed that Trump walked in on nude contestants at the 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant, some of whom were as young as 15. And in a past interview, he gave Howard Stern the OK to call his daughter, Ivanka, a “piece of a**.”

It’s important to note that for Trump, and many other men like him, it’s usually more than just a matter of words. Despite this new knowledge, Trump’s campaign will roll onward, his businesses will likely stay afloat, and only time will tell whether or not he seriously pays for it on Election Day.

In fairness, NBC did cut business ties with Trump after he called all Mexicans “rapists” and characterized all Muslims as “terrorists” during his campaign launch. Yet if recent comments from producers of “The Apprentice” are to be believed, there’s protected footage of Trump saying much worse about women, and even his use of the n-word.

With such deplorable behavior, why wasn’t Trump sanctioned much earlier than last summer? The answer is simple. Trump was a cash cow for the network, and his behavior was given a free pass. The same could be said for former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush, who’s been with the network for roughly 20 years and may only just now lose his job because of the video leak. But he also has a track record of creepy and offensive remarks about women, as John Oliver highlighted on the latest episode of “Last Week Tonight.”

This is what happens when the ol’ boy network looks out for its own, as Bush did for Ryan Lochte this past summer when defending the swimmer’s outright lying about being held up at a gas station in Brazil. Bush dismissed Lochte’s story as “embellishment” and his drunken, rowdy behavior as “kids just traveling abroad.” It prompted visible frustration from co-host Al Roker, who refused to back down in arguing that Lochte indeed lied.

More often than not, white men and the institutions they dominate work to protect, aid and abet each other, even when they’re embroiled in scandal. And until white male entitlement gets consistently recognized and challenged, people who behave like Trump will continue getting away with murder.