Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who last week gave his support to Trump, said Tuesday that Trump’s recent attack on U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel was “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” Textbook racism, said Ryan — but he has yet to withdraw his support.

Trump has doubled down on the comments about Curiel, who is the presiding judge in lawsuits filed against him by former students of his Trump University. “I’m building the wall, I’m building the wall,” Trump said. “I have a Mexican judge. He’s of Mexican heritage. He should have recused himself, not only for that, for other things.”

Many have pointed out that Judge Curiel is a highly respected American jurist born in Indiana to parents of Mexican descent.

So the question becomes — both for Paul Ryan and for all of us — what should “the textbook definition” of racism mean for the election of the president of the United States?


Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New Americais available now.

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