Leftists Say Trump’s Awarding a Medal to Elvis Was Racially Charged

Among the winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year was the king of rock 'n' roll — some people aren't pleased

Image Credit: Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley / WikiMedia Commons

President Donald Trump’s White House announced its Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients last weekend — and not everyone in the mainstream media has been happy about the picks.

President Trump gave the award this year to seven recipients, including the late Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Babe Ruth.

Antonin Scalia, one of the top jurists in American history, received the distinction as well. He passed away on Feb. 13, 2016. When Trump presented the award at the White House on Friday afternoon to Scalia, he said, in part, “Joining us for this ceremony is [Judge Scalia’s] wife, Maureen — who has become a great friend of my family, myself — and their nine children.”

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The president then named each of the Scalia children.

“You were very busy, wow. Wow. I always knew I liked him,” Trump added with a smile, eliciting some laughs from the assembled audience.

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Elvis Presley, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, also received his award posthumously.

When a few lines of an Elvis played for the audience, Trump paused to listen — then joked that he wished he could hear the whole song.

The award is given by the White House to “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

It’s the nation’s highest civilian honor.

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The incredibly talent Presley, who received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1971 and has a star on the Walk of Fame, had quite the career in music and seems clearly to fit those requirements.

However, The Washington Post was not pleased that Presley — known for such hit songs as “Hound Dog” and “Heartbreak Hotel” — is a recipient of this award.

In a piece for the publication, Chris Richards wrote that the selection of Elvis was “a little nod to the good old days back when black visionaries could invent rock ‘n’ roll, but only a white man could become king.”

While evidence that the king of rock ‘n’ roll was racist is thin, that does not stop desperate leftists from spreading the narrative to go after the president. Liberal analyst Preston Mitchell, in fact, agreed with this notion — that the selection was racially charged — when speaking with host Laura Ingraham on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” on Thursday night.

“I think the optics are weird,” Mitchell said of Presley’s receiving the award. “Of all the people you could’ve picked, you pick someone who make some people feel like he appropriated black music in some way or another because it was invented by black artists. It was embraced by southern white America because a white artist was doing it. Why would you pick someone like that in 2018 with all of the racial division he’s caused and he inherited as much as he’s caused?”

Mitchell went on to say that Presley’s success was a reflection of white people who were racist.

Related: Why Elvis and His Music Still Matter

He added that white people think “we’ll take black music so long as it’s packaged as a white guy.”

Horace Cooper, co-chair of conservative public policy group Project 21, disagreed with that logic.

He did not feel that Presley was a racist or was culturally appropriating African-Americans with his music.

He told Ingraham that “the Left has jumped the shark here … This individual was so accomplished, he sold albums that blacks, whites, browns and Americans enjoyed and celebrated. He was America’s hero. He absolutely ought to be celebrated,” he added.

“It’s a real shame that people would look at his achievement and say, ‘We want to hold that back because we feel as though this is a secret dog whistle to a racist agenda.'”

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.

Tom Joyce
meet the author

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.

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