You really have to hand it to the far left media. Even when President Trump does something right, they still manage to find a way to use it against him. This uncanny ability was on full display from the moment President Trump announced in April that he was considering a pardon for Jack Johnson, the former heavyweight champion who was unfairly imprisoned over 100 years ago by a racist justice system.
Instead of giving the President credit for reversing Johnson’s conviction, they engaged in a stunning display of mental gymnastics to smear him. It isn’t surprising; Trump’s action makes it more difficult to paint the president as a virulent racist who wishes he could bring back slavery.
Trump Pardons Johnson
President Trump announced on Friday that he was issuing a full pardon to Jack Johnson, in an appearance with Sylvester Stallone, creator of the iconic Rocky franchise. “Congress has supported numerous resolutions calling for Johnson’s pardon,” Trump said at the ceremony. “No president ever signed, surprisingly. They thought it was going to be signed in the last administration and that didn’t happen. So that was very disappointing for a lot of people.”
Born in 1878 to former slaves, Johnson began his boxing career when the sport was still segregated. Later, he became famous for winning a string of matches against white opponents. His career reached its zenith when he defeated champion Tommy Burns in a highly publicized match in Australia.
In 1912, Johnson was arrested for violating the Mann Act, a law designed to combat sex trafficking and prostitution; in practice, authorities could arrest black men who traveled with white women. The boxer had dated white women, which was taboo during this time, and he was arrested while crossing state borders with his girlfriend. Finally, over 100 years later, President Trump pardoned Johnson and cleared his record.
Questioning Trump’s Motives
One of the ways the left is using the pardon to criticize Trump is by attacking his motives. Author Clarence Page penned a piece for The Chicago Tribune titled “Trump’s Pardon of Jack Johnson is a Jab to Obama legacy.” In the article, Page implies that Trump’s action was nothing more than a dig at the Obama administration, which had refused to pardon the boxer.
“Considering the bizarro nature of Trumpian policies, as some of my Twitter followers sarcastically observed, if Obama had pardoned Johnson, Trump might well have tried to reverse it, just as he has tried to purge every other remnant of Obama’s legacy,” Page wrote. To his credit, he does grudgingly admit that Trump did the right thing: “I have been a frequent critic of Trump’s bull-in-a-China-shop style, but this time he scored a knockout.”
Naturally, Trump’s action has elicited an obvious question: Why didn’t President Obama pardon Johnson? It’s a great question and one that The Daily Beast attempted to answer in a piece titled “Trump Might Pardon Jack Johnson. Why Didn’t Obama?”
Despite pleas from Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and John McCain (R-AZ), Obama did not address Johnson’s unjust imprisonment. The Daily Beast spoke with Gavin Parke, a former staffer for Senator Reid, who stated that “our conjecture was that they didn’t want to engage in divisive racial issues that were largely symbolic.” Parke also indicated that the Obama administration was “stringently opposed to the pardons process becoming politicized in any way.” Try not to laugh too hard.
A senior official who worked under Obama indicated that the former president did not issue the pardon because the Department of Justice did not recommend it; the DOJ typically does not favor posthumous pardons. Interestingly enough, former Attorney General Eric Holder — AKA Obama’s wingman —affirmed this point.
Slamming Jack Johnson
To demean Trump’s pardon, some media outlets have pointed out that Johnson wasn’t always an upstanding citizen. He was cocky and loved to show off his new cars. He would exceed the speed limit while driving through town. When he was pulled over, he would simply hand the officer some cash and tell him to “keep the change.” There were also rumors that he had physically abused at least one of his girlfriends.
In a piece for The Guardian titled “If Trump Pardons Jack Johnson it Won’t be for his Contribution to Black America,” Allen Barra pointed out that the boxer enjoyed fame and wealth, but he did not use his position to further the civil rights cause. He wrote:
“Though Johnson was undeniably brilliant in the ring, he was far from the Colin Kaepernick or Muhammad Ali of his day. When he stood up to white America – something that took huge personal courage – it was to help himself rather than African Americans as a whole.”
Decision Was the Right One
Regardless of the media’s attempts to smear Trump, his pardoning Jack Johnson was the appropriate move. Contrary to their opinions on his motives, Trump knew that Johnson had been treated unfairly. His arrest was an example of the type of oppression blacks in America endured back then, and the President felt the need to make it right.
Furthermore, defending Obama for his refusal to pardon the boxer is absurd. There was no good reason why Obama or any other American president couldn’t have taken the same action. Using the Department of Justice as an excuse to avoid this decision is nonsensical as the president alone holds the authority to issue a pardon. Trump did it without their recommendation.
Lastly, Johnson may not have been a perfect individual, but that is not the issue here. The issue is that he was convicted of a crime he did not commit because of the color of his skin. It does not make sense to refuse a pardon for an unjust conviction because the victim may have engaged in other wrongdoing.
The reality is that many on the far left cannot bring themselves to acknowledge when the president has done something positive. Their irrational hatred of the man has gone so far that they cannot appreciate his willingness to rectify an example of racially motivated injustice. Fortunately, the rest of the nation is still watching.