Beyond the brink

Trump's racism breeds violence

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The new Confederate flag
Wikimedia Commons/Chantrumping

This was a bad week for our country. Like so many other times in the last couple of years, racism boiled to the top of the national discussion. But this time is different. We’ve now moved beyond racism as threat, to racism as motive and its only going to get worse from here.

Words matter, and when they come out of the president’s mouth they matter even more. Trump thinks it’s just fine to tell four women of color — all members of Congress who don’t particularly like him or his policies — to “go back to where they came from.” He told reporters he isn’t worried about the fact that white nationalists and neo-Nazis are cheering what he said. 

Trump views those who don’t swear their loyalty to him as somehow undeserving of their U.S. citizenship. And yes, that makes the current president of the United States a dimwitted racist with no grasp of what this nation stands for or what our soldiers have died to preserve. 

The right to dissent is the right of all U.S. citizens. It is what makes us different and better than all those countries with actual “shithole” governments like Russia, China, Turkey and North Korea that Trump so adores. We used to have an appreciation for such freedoms in this country, but that was before large numbers of white voters become so fearful of living in a more diverse world that they opted to trade away the U.S. Constitution and everything it stands for in exchange for holding onto their power and privilege for just a little while longer. I still can’t believe they sold their nation’s soul for so little in return.  

At this point, the president and those who comprise his base of political support — which we are told still includes over 90 percent of Republicans — apparently believe that citizens who are not white, regardless of whether or not they were born here, do not have the Constitutional rights to free speech and dissent. If Trump supporters — including the Republican cowards in Congress — didn’t agree with the president on this point, they would be speaking out against him at this very moment condemning his racist statements. Their silence is the witness that convicts them. 

Like it or not, a voter’s priorities can make them a racist. Not speaking out against overt racism because you believe to do so might hurt your chances of getting a tax cut or seeing interest rates go down, the market go up, or getting Roe v. Wade overturned, most certainly is a racist decision. It’s not an either/or world when it comes to justice and morality.

“America, love it or leave it” was always an asinine statement that insulted the U.S. Constitution and all those who’ve actually read and understand it. But the current president’s version of that twisted anti-democracy sentiment — “Trump’s America, love him or leave it” — is so much worse. 

Here is what Trump’s statement aimed at Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts is not: 

It is not “poorly thought out;” “somewhat inappropriate;” “something I wouldn’t have said;” “taken out of context;” “not constructive,” “language that could be misconstrued as racist,” or any of the other things Congressional Republicans have claimed while trying to excuse Trump’s racism because they fear his political base and consider their own re-election to be more important than God, country and their fellow human beings everywhere. 

What the president said is simply racist, and he said it because he is a racist. And I will say this for the thousandth time, we knew he was a racist when he announced he was running for president. I won’t rehash his long record here that includes dozens of well-documented examples that make clear exactly who this man is and what he believes. 

On Tuesday, July 16, Democrats in the House along with four Republicans worthy of their elected office, condemned the president’s tweets as racist over the objections of every other Republican in the House. It should be noted Dems were very careful not to call the president himself a racist.

My question is, why not? He is a racist. Seriously, at this point why are we mincing words, it’s gutless and dishonest. Fox News and Republicans in Congress (minus the four) don’t need the help of Democrats to spray Teflon on the president after every racist statement and act he commits. It’s time to just call a Trump a Trump. 

Many news outlets, for the first time in two years, finally called out Trump as a racist on their editorial pages. To that I say, thank you, it’s about time and welcome back to doing your jobs.

The president thinks that because I disagree with him that I should just leave the country. Well, I sure hate to disappoint him, but I’m staying. 

And we all need to stay because it’s going to take a long time to repair the damage that Trump and his supporters have done. Even if he’s tossed out of the White House in 2020, it’s not over. Sadly, Trump has taken us past the point of no return for the foreseeable future, possibly decades. You can’t just put the racism/white fear genie back in the bottle. And you don’t have to look far to see what the future holds.

This week’s news from around the country had a theme; racism breeds violence. James Fields, Jr., the avowed neo-Nazi who plowed his car into a crowd during the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was given a second life sentence for his attack that killed counter-protestor Heather Heyer. In Louisiana, longtime civil rights activist and founder of the African American Museum in Baton Rouge, 75-year-old Sadie Roberts-Joseph, was found dead, stuffed in the trunk of her car. She had been murdered by suffocation. 

In Tacoma, Washington, Willem Van Spronsen was shot and killed by police. Van Spronsen, a self-described anti-fascist, had told his friends he just couldn’t take seeing the Trump administration’s continued abuse of immigrants. So, he launched what was in effect a suicide mission against the private detention center holding migrants in Tacoma, a location where Van Spronsen had frequently protested. He was throwing incendiary devices at the cars belonging to guards when police arrived and killed him. 

In New York, the feds have announced they will not bring charges against white police officer Daniel Pantaleo. You may remember Pantaleo from the video that showed him choking a black man named Eric Garner as he kept saying, “I can’t breathe.”  Garner died from that incident. His alleged crime was selling single cigarettes without charging a tax. Watch for Trump to fan the flames of the racially charged Garner case next week.

I won’t take the space here to again describe the ongoing atrocities and torture being committed against defenseless migrants including children at our southern border and elsewhere, or to detail the facts behind how 9,000 or so of our nation’s border patrol agents have been using racist, misogynistic Facebook forums to make fun of migrants who died in their care and to mock, in unbelievably vulgar ways, the same four members of congress the president is targeting with his overt racism. 

Yes, it has been a bad week, but it’s just the beginning of many bad weeks to come.  

Like I said, words matter. The president’s words really matter, and he is using them to push this country to violence… not the brink of violence. 

There are no bodies in the morgue at the brink of violence. And we most certainly have bodies in the morgue; from car trunks in Louisiana and detention centers in Tacoma, from synagogue shootings to white nationalist rallies, from violence at churches and mosques and workplaces to an increase in deaths along the border, the bodies are piling up. And Trump’s irresponsible racist rhetoric is playing no small role. 

I wish I believed the president is just too ignorant to understand that his racist comments about those four women has put them in very real physical danger, but I don’t believe that. He knows his words cause violence and he doesn’t care… or worse, he likes it. 

It is no longer a matter of wondering if the president’s incendiary racism and the Republicans condoning that racism will spark more violence. It’s now only a matter of when, who, how much and which side of the political divide will be responsible for spilling the blood. Sadly, that’s where we are.

So, get ready.