“It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” —Samuel Adams
All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy and hope. —Winston Churchill
Both of the above quotes belong to Donald Trump because of his actions over 30 years ago when he purchased Mar-a-Lago, a 28-room, 70-year-old mansion built by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post. Trump paid about $7 million for the 17-acre property.
Mar-a-Lago was one of the centers of upper crust social circles in Palm Beach. It was where old money would meet and party and give to charities at elite social functions. This old money was mostly inherited and trust fund wealth.
Donald Trump’s Palm Beach story is much like the 1947 movie, Gentleman’s Agreement with Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, and one of my favorite actresses, Celeste Holm. In the movie, Greg Peck is the journalist assigned to write a series of articles on anti-Semitism. Searching for an angle, he finally decides to pose as a Jew, and soon discovers what it is like to be a victim of religious intolerance.
No “Gentleman’s Agreement” for Trump
Mr. Trump has waged successful battles against anti-Semitism and racism over the decades. He challenged Palm Beach society by using the legal system to overturn institutional discrimination when he purchased Mar-a-Lago and changed Palm Beach society.
So what exactly happened in Palm Beach, Florida? In a 1997 WSJ article, it told about Donald Trump’s upsetting the old order of things in the then-racist Palm Beach elites. In 1987, James Jennings Sheeran, the publisher of the Palm Beach society magazine, estimated that approximately 65% of the residents lived on inherited or trust fund monies. He claims that today only about 25% do. He said it was a nice clean senior citizen community, but now there is junk bond money all over the place.
Another society writer states that she doesn’t go to Mar-a-Lago because it doesn’t attract high-end money. Really? The snobbery is anathema to Donald Trump’s beliefs and attitudes.
Mr. Trump, who still occupies a private wing of Mar-a-Lago, considers such sentiments the last gasps of a dying breed. “You have two groups here,” he says, “the doers and those who inherited. Mar-a-Lago is composed of the doers. At the other clubs, you probably wouldn’t recognize the members’ names.”
Trump Battles the City
In the early 1990’s as a way to combat the $3 million yearly maintenance costs, Trump decided to divide the Mar-a-Lago property into smaller lots for residential development. That started the first battle with the city. Palm Beach had earlier approved such a plan from another developer, but rejected Trump’s plan.
Trump sued the city for $50 million, but then later dropped the suit when he decided to turn Mar-a-Lago into a private club. The city agreed, but told him he couldn’t have more than 500 members. When the club opened, the city was appalled because Trump wasn’t catering to old established money, but to new money and to younger people.
Here’s where the “Gentleman’s Agreement” comes in…Trump not only catered to new money clients, but he brought in people of other ethnicities. All the other clubs of Palm Beach had quietly excluded Jews and African-Americans. Trump shined the light of racism on the entire city and the other clubs.
Trump had asked the city to lift other restrictions on the club, but they had not. His lawyer sent each of the council members a copy of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” a film that deals with upper class racism. He even asked certain council members not to vote because of their membership in other clubs, because it was a conflict of interest.
When the council refused, Trump filed a $100 million suit alleging that the discrimination against Mar-a-Lago was because it allowed Jews and African Americans as members of the club.
Of course, the town denied the allegations saying it was merely a matter of zoning!
Trump Changes Palm Beach Society
Gradually, things started to change in Palm Beach, and Jewish and African Americans were admitted to other clubs. But back in the late 90s, when a group decided to hold a meeting at Mar-a-Lago, they’d receive threatening letters and emails. Nevertheless, their meetings were well attended.
Estelle Curran, from the older set of wealthy, stated, “Mr. Trump has made so much trouble in this town. A lot of people feel that if we boycott the place, we won’t help him make money.”
They sure didn’t like the change brought by Donald Trump to Palm Beach, but Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League said this, “He put the light on Palm Beach, not on the beauty and the glitter, but on its seamier side of discrimination. It has an impact.”
Mr. Foxman said that Jewish residents have told him how the clubs in Palm Beach have changed. Most have begun to admit Jewish patrons and people of color. One who was well known for its discriminatory behavior, actually named a Jewish resident as its chief officer.
The Real Donald J. Trump
Lynn Patton, who has worked for the Trump Organization since 2009, says there are more minorities in the Trump Organization than in any other company she’s ever worked for. Lynn is the Director of the Eric Trump Foundation & Assistant to Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump & Donald Trump Jr., according to the Eric Trump Foundation’s website. She is also an African American.
Donald J. Trump fought against racism and he won! For him, there are no exceptions; all Americans are created equal, just as our Declaration of Independence states.
Blue collar billionaire, Trump, tells the American people at all his rallies that he loves them, and he truly does!