White Americans Are Now Inexorable Pawns in Trump’s Bigger Power Play
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
America is a ticking time bomb. Americans know it. And now the rest of the world is making it plain — they know it, too. In the three and a half excruciatingly long years under the breathtaking malfeasance of Donald Trump — that “moral vacuum that is now pretending to lead” — this country has plummeted from a highly vaunted place as “the greatest country in the world” to one of ridicule and, now, scorn. The Trump administration’s stunningly inept response to the coronavirus pandemic is but one reason why America is now, quite literally, the scourge of the earth from which “civilized” countries are distancing themselves socially. A new world order is emerging in which America no longer sits atop her pedestal.
Think about that.
Then think about the fact that, in a resurgent pandemic in which records for new coronavirus infections are being broken daily, the Trump administration’s top priority on Thursday was to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which would wipe out health insurance coverage for as many as 23 million Americans. This, as the report trickled out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that as many as 20 million Americans — not the reported 2.5 million — have likely been infected with coronavirus. Yes, these contemptible incompetents determined, somehow, that they could rise to the occasion with a continuance of their Obamacare repeal vendetta, with no contingency in place for Americans who would not otherwise be covered.
Trump, stable genius that he is, clearly thought that there would be no better way to mobilize his base than to remind them how hard he was still working to fulfill promises from his 2016 campaign. That 128,153 Americans have already died from COVID-19 — a disproportionate number of whom were African American — was clearly of no consequence. Black lives don’t matter to Trump. Obamacare had cut the rate of uninsured African Americans by more than a third and reduced health insurance disparities among people of color. Lest we forget, Trump’s first presidential act, the very day he was inaugurated, was Executive Order 13765, which set out interim procedures in anticipation of the repeal of Obamacare.
Part 1 of this essay included a discussion of Trump’s pervasive pattern of treachery toward the Black community. Nevertheless, Trump’s appeal to the Supreme Court smacked of desperation. Eighty percent of voters now see the naked emperor at the helm of a country that is “out of control.” Nationwide polls indicate that Trump is on track to lose the November election in a landslide to Joe Biden.
In Trump’s “deconstruction of the administrative state,” people of color have long been expendable. The first week of his presidency, Trump immortalized his base’s xenophobic paranoia with Executive Order 13769. This federal directive indiscriminately deemed Muslims outside the country “foreign terrorists” — persona non grata — and caused more than 700 travelers to be detained, and up to 60,000 visas “provisionally revoked.” Subsequently, Trump would pull out all the stops to begin building a border wall he had actually obsessed about long before becoming president to keep “murderers, rapists, and bad hombres” at bay on the southern side of the Mexican border. Still later, he would designate which were the largely Black “shithole countries” of the world, from which immigrants to America were not really welcome. Indeed, think about all of that this summer as we look at our once-coveted American passports that could take us virtually any place in the world without a visa and realize that America is now the shithole country from which its citizens are no longer welcome abroad — if only temporarily.
Then think about the other tables that are turning.
In case you missed it, “white lives” are also now in jeopardy — mere collateral damage in Donald Trump’s unmistakable quest to convert this country into a fascist dictatorship. It could have been easy to miss the cue when he gave the order to “dominate the streets” during the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted after George Floyd’s murder. It could have been easy to argue that white protesters, standing in solidarity with their black compatriots, committed themselves to a singular fate when Trump authorized his goon squads to disperse lawfully assembled crowds with tear gas and flash-bangs. But then, consider the 6,200 overwhelmingly white attendees of the mass rally the Trump campaign hosted last weekend in Tulsa to kick off Trump’s reelection bid. Then add to that number the 3,000 overwhelmingly white attendees, willfully inveigled from safe, small clusters within their homes to a mass gathering in Phoenix. Complicit in that bit of depravity were the managing charlatans of Dream City Church, the venue for the event. They issued bogus claims that the church had a special system that purifies the air and kills the coronavirus — within 10 minutes, y’all. Seriously.
The CDC could not be more explicit. They have labeled as “the highest risk” for transmitting coronavirus any large in-person gathering “where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.” But Trump’s bully pulpit ruled. His clear contempt for proper science and wanton disregard for the considerable advice of acclaimed health professionals are a matter of record. And yes, injecting disinfectants will kill you, not cure coronavirus. Besides making him “look bad,” pesky facts stand between him and “reopening the economy” before the curve of coronavirus infections is flattened. In Trumplandia, therefore, ignorance is the currency.
Far-right media outlets like Fox News and One America News Network trade in the administration’s repeated lies and propaganda that downplay the seriousness of the pandemic.
And the world watched in abject horror as Trump delivered an almost certain kiss of death to over 9,200 of his most ardent supporters — fellow Americans — who will no doubt infect their families and friends in states where coronavirus had already began surging again, and COVID-19 wards at hospitals were operating at near-full capacity.
Prior to the rally in Tulsa, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected a bid to mandate face masks and social distancing at the Trump campaign event, citing the lack of clear legal right to demand such relief by the two local residents seeking that remedy. In Arizona, barely 72 hours after the City of Phoenix mandated the use of face masks in public places, attendees of the Trump rally would be effectively exempted. This, despite the Trump campaign’s announcement that eight staff members who worked to prepare for the rally or during the rally tested positive for coronavirus.
In the end, Donald Trump would be the only one at both campaign events who strictly adhered to proper social distancing guidelines. Why? Because Donald Trump knows the risks of COVID-19. He knows he exists in a biological bunker, as sanitized from coronavirus as anyone in the world could possibly be. He knows he is tested daily, as are all with whom he comes into close contact who are also required to wear masks. Yet this miscreant consistently flouts the CDC health guidelines for others.
Indeed, it has become a horrifying spectacle, this carnival sideshow comprised of Trump’s gullible followers who cluster together at these events like sardines, obliviously caught in a net of deceit. The vast majority wear no masks because, well, their “unalienable Rights” to practice dumbfuckery must not be questioned. Dutifully, they sign waivers that indemnify the Trump campaign and their affiliates against damages if they subsequently contract coronavirus and spread it to their families. Translate that, fucked — without recourse — like the countless others before them who danced and made deals with this devil, only to realize too late that loyalty is a one-way street in a Trump relationship.
“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free”
What happens in America over the next couple of months regarding coronavirus will no longer be about a “learning curve” — it will be about willful intent. And the Trump administration has reconciled itself to thousands more dead Americans before this pandemic is over.
Have you reconciled that one of them may be you?
Absent from Donald Trump’s recent ramblings is any acknowledgment that he has wasted the economic sacrifices made to shutter the economy to constrain coronavirus — or the toll the new surge will have on healthcare workers in this country. Effectively, he has allowed the country to suffer tremendous losses without accomplishing the ultimate goal of saving lives in America. And the only thing certain is that, at least for the next four months, the Trump shitshow will go on.
States with the highest percentages of non-Hispanic whites still riding the Republican Trump train — or belonging to the “swing state” category — will undoubtedly be targeted soon for more Trump rallies. Their remarkably low coronavirus deaths so far, compared to New York (31,447) and New Jersey (15,091) may seduce them into thinking the problem is somewhere “over there.” The numbers do show a trend: The whiter the state, the lower the number of coronavirus deaths. However, as the world has seen, coronavirus is no respecter of race, religion, gender, educational or financial status, party affiliation, or geography. Without adequate precautions, it will find you.
I have taught my children to pay attention to the way someone treats other people, because it is just a matter of time before that same behavior is directed toward them. The lesson never fails. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advised, perhaps more eloquently, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” Which is why White America must wake up to the reality that, like Black Americans, they, too, are now inexorable pawns in Trump’s bigger power play — nonexempt from the consequences of his behavior.
With Trump, those chickens always come home to roost. Ask Paul Manafort. And Michael Cohen. And Roger Stone. And Rudy Giuliani in the not too distant future. In fact, ask Melania. And Marla. And Ivana, who had tried coyly to warn America about Trump’s fascist proclivities back in 1990 when she exposed his treasured bedside collection of Hitler’s speeches.
White America will undoubtedly learn the hard way what the great civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer warned about back in 1971 before the National Women’s Political Caucus in Washington. “We’ve got to have some changes in this country,” Hamer declared, “and not only changes for the [B]lack man, and only changes for the [B]lack woman. The changes we have to have in this country are going to be for liberation of all people — because nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
Fifty years ago, in 1968, the Kerner Report — produced by a presidentially appointed panel — infamously told White America the truth about where those changes needed to begin. After civil rights rioting had broken out in poor African American neighborhoods, the Kerner Commission dared to tell the truth that it was white racism — not Black anger —that drove urban American turmoil.
“White society is deeply implicated in the ghetto,” the panel reported. “White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.”
The Commission warned explicitly that the nation was so divided that the United States was poised to fracture into two radically unequal societies — one Black, one white.
Their report cited: “Bad policing practices, a flawed justice system, unscrupulous consumer credit practices, poor or inadequate housing, high unemployment, voter suppression, and other culturally embedded forms of racial discrimination all converged to propel violent upheaval on the streets of African-American neighborhoods in American cities, north and south, east and west. And as [B]lack unrest arose, inadequately trained police officers and National Guard troops entered affected neighborhoods, often worsening the violence.”
White America didn’t take it well — it was not what they wanted to hear. Which is why we are here again in 2020. Fox News bigot Tucker Carlson personifies the disconnect with his whiny, disingenuous rants about the BLM movement “suddenly” becoming an extremely motivated, powerful political force — “the strongest political party in the United States.” But it’s still the same struggle. A Black president—treated the way he was, blocked at almost every turn by a Republican Party largely representing white American interests — did not radically change the systemic racial issues.
Which exactly is why, this past week, top Democratic senators told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that his Republican bill on police reform, presented after Trump’s executive order, is “not salvageable.” In a letter to McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) demanded that McConnell bring “meaningful legislation” to the floor.
“People are not marching in the streets again saying, ‘We want a commission,’” Sen. Cory Booker said in a recent interview. “They’re not marching to say, ‘We want more data.’ They’re marching in the streets to say they want to stop the police from choking them to death. They want to stop being profiled based upon their race. They want to end ‘no-knock’ warrants. They want to have transparency in police departments and, if a police officer does wrong, they want to make sure that federal authorities can prosecute them and they won’t have impossible standards to reach. This is not that complicated. We can get this done if we sit together and have a real conversation about what will save black lives in this country.”
Maybe one day, the bigots in White America — and the Republican Party, in particular — will wake up to the self-hatred they project onto Black people and immigrants, which presents as resentment, fear, and oppression. Maybe one day, they’ll wake up to the internal spiritual work that must be done personally, and as a country systemically, to bring reconciliation and healing. That ‘one day,’ however, cannot be some time in the distant future. Time is up.
For 400 years, white Americans have sold the lie that their forefathers came to America as noble immigrants who landed at Plymouth Rock. For 400 years, they have sold the lie of “greatness” to cover repressed guilt for the way they accumulated wealth and achieved their accomplishments. For 400 years, they have thrived on depravity without accountability.
Donald Trump continues that pattern. Is it any wonder bigots love him so?
A Tipping Point in America — Part 1
Does the BLM Movement Have the Will and the Resources to Reach Critical Mass and Force Real Change in America?
What Will “Winning” Look Like for the BLM Movement?
A Tipping Point in America — Part 3