Why Trump Could Pardon Jack Johnson When Obama Wouldn’t

“They couldn’t get the president to sign it,” Trump said, clearly reveling in what he, and many of his supporters, took to be a delightful irony. “So I am taking this very righteous step.” But as reporters looked into Obama’s decision, one thing became clear: Jack Johnson had a history of beating women, a fact that gave Obama pause. That Trump felt no such compunction did not merely reflect his misogyny; what Trump did not seem to realize, as he was basking in his righteousness, was that he, as a white man, had a privilege Obama did not.

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