As we have all come to know, celebrity billionaire and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump likes saying he's good for women. In fact, he likes saying it a lot. He likes women. Women like him. He knows what women want. And apparently, what they want is for convicted rapists and those who encourage people to “enjoy” rape to be a part of his campaign.
At his Indiana rally Wednesday night, Trump proudly announced endorsements from two “tough guys” — Mike Tyson and Bobby Knight. Indulge me now in a brief walk down memory lane.
Mike Tyson was convicted of rape in 1992 and originally sentenced to 10 years in prison (he served three). He is currently still registered as a Tier II sex offender. Also, Trump — with whom Tyson is the best of chums, or at least of significant financial interest — tried pretty hard to keep him from serving any prison time. At the time of the conviction, Trump proposed that Tyson should continue to be allowed to box — specifically, in a predicted-to-be-lucrative match against Evander Holyfield — and give the proceeds to the woman he was convicted of raping, Desiree Washington. Trump said at a press conference in 1992:
Instead, you let him [Tyson] go out, he would have made between $15 million and $30 million in his next fight: tremendous amount of money, tremendous amount of good (it) can be doing … Millions and millions of dollars could pour in to help people that were truly hurt, that won't have anything and that will live penniless without it. And I think a lot people, a lot of people, can be helped if this is properly handled.
I assume you're all cringing now. Trump's campaign spokesperson declined to comment on the Mother Jones report on this incident, and Tyson's rep told the publication he was "too busy" to speak about it.
Meanwhile, in addition to his penchant for throwing chairs, Bobby Knight is a former basketball coach who once told NBC news correspondent Connie Chung that, “I think if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” At this point, that quote is so associated with him that I can only assume it’ll eventually work its way into his epitaph. Knight clarified that he was talking not about actual rape (?). He added, "I'm not talking about that, about the act of rape. Don't misinterpret me there. But what I'm talking about is, something happens to you, so you have to handle it - now.''
That was in 1988, but rape apparently remains a jokey and metaphor-rich subject for Knight, who in 2014 made another comment about how the NBA’s minimum age requirement “rape[s] college basketball.”
Look, these are not the first horrible people to endorse Donald Trump. A number of xenophobes and misogynists and white supremacists have flocked to his call. But at least with, say, David Duke, the former KKK grand wizard who said he very much wants to Make America Great Again, Trump slowly, eventually came to the conclusion that they are maybe not the best boosters.
But Knight, with all his misogynistic baggage, and Tyson, a convicted rapist, are welcomed allies. Trump remains proud to share the stage with them as he pumps people up for his campaign. I believe that accepting and touting these endorsements disparages and disrespects women on a new level. It goes beyond the typical anti-choice or other anti-women language we've already seen this election. By happily, proudly accepting Tyson's endorsement, I believe Trump is conveying the message that Tyson’s rape of an 18-year-old is forgivable, or can be dismissed, because Tyson can help Make America Great Again.