This just in: President Trump is a racist. Who could have seen THAT coming? The administration’s childish denials of the President’s “shithole countries” comments, the persistent refrain of “tough language” and swearing all around – all of that belies the reported fact that Trump was bragging about his racist tirade to some of his right-wing allies, a few of which let the story slip. Frankly, I think the administration far prefers the focus on Trump’s verbal diarrhea – it keeps the press from focusing on the underlying issues, which make less compelling television. (It also reinforces Trump’s message to his base that he thinks like they do about dark people, foreigners, etc.)
There is also the fact that the President doesn’t understand policy, isn’t interested in it, and is incapable of delving any deeper than the surface of any political issue. He is kind of a blank slate, though he does obviously have deep-rooted visceral prejudices. Third-rate thinkers (and ninth-rate speechwriters) like Stephen Miller can scrawl their alt-right graffiti on the guy and he will repeat whatever they tell him. Retrograde bigots like General Kelly and Tom Cotton guide Trump like he’s their senile uncle. So the President’s feint towards compromise last Tuesday was transformed into the spectacle of last Thursday, when Trump denigrated an entire continent as well as the ex-colony that was a primary source of France’s wealth.
The implicit racism of the administration’s argument on immigration is far more stunning than his gutter rhetoric. They want less people from places like Haiti and Africa (!) and more people from places like Norway; they see this as an argument for a more “merit-based” system, because they can’t conceive of the possibility that people from Haiti or African countries are (a) educated, (b) highly skilled, or (c) industrious. Because they are, well, black, the administration thinks of them as a hoard of hut-dwelling wash-outs in search of free services. That is basically a textbook definition of racism, even without the S-bomb. They have a 1940s cartoon-level conception of these foreign lands and the people that inhabit them, and they use that to add fuel to their fear-mongering.
Let’s face it: immigrants, particularly darker ones, are an easy political target; always have been. I hear people much smarter than Trump employing the same tactics, pointing to crimes by foreign nationals and generalizing select incidents to tar entire populations, an art form mastered by the Nazi propagandists. This kind of hate is our enemy, and we need to fight it on the beaches, in the streets, in the alleys, and in the doorways. We must never surrender to it.
What a horrendous week for New Yorkers. Condolences to those affected by this ghastly Halloween attack. Don’t wait for words of encouragement and sympathy from the big cheese – he’s too busy attacking your senator on Twitter. Literally insult upon injury, but not surprising. It’s also been a pretty rough week in Puerto Rico, still reeling from Hurricane Maria, and of course in Somalia, in the aftermath of that horrific bombing. I could go on, but what’s the point – you know it. Sad thing is, none of these people will get any reasonable amount of moral or material support from the current administration. The reason couldn’t be clearer: too many dark people, and no potential Trump voters.
Not that Somalia has been treated like anything other than a doormat in previous administrations. Trump, though, has singled out Somali refugees in America for criticism, sowing hatred and distrust among his legions. The refugees are black, like the family of La David Johnson, and like the Congresswoman that is a family friend of theirs, and like the football players taking a knee, and … need I go on? Puerto Rico, well … that place is full of dark people too, and so they’re not going to get the kind of help that goes to Florida and east Texas. It just seems like whatever belligerent stand Trump takes, there are dark-skinned people on the other side of it.
I suppose I should consider it fortunate that crypto-racists have a tendency to reveal themselves gradually, however unintentional that process might be. Case in point is Trump’s Chief of Staff, General Kelly, who launched into a gratuitous character assassination attempt on Florida Congresswoman Wilson (hint: she’s African American) using a story that was easily dis-proven, as the event he was describing was captured on video. In remarks to the New York Times, Kelly praised Confederate General Robert E. Lee and opined that the Civil War was the result of a “lack of ability to compromise”. I think Lawrence O”Donnell had it right when he suggested that Kelly – who grew up in the same area of Boston as O’Donnell did – is channeling a racist upbringing in what was a caldron of prejudice against black people, brown people, anyone other than the Scotty B’s of the world.
Let us face it. In this culture, white, heterosexual people are normative; that is the default position. Anyone else needs qualification and justification. So when a crazy cracker shoots up 500 people in Las Vegas, we won’t ask ourselves what the problem is with these rich, white Christians. But when a crazy ass Uzbek mows down a bunch of innocent people for no reason, all Muslims are expected to apologize. That’s a power relationship at work.
I suppose I may as well work the same furrow as the mainstream media does and talk about President Elect Trump’s cabinet choices. It’s a bit like drinking urine, but here goes.
The list thus far seems custom designed to irritate centrists and liberals. That’s only to be expected, right? People who didn’t support Trump, people who said bad things about him, people who worked for his opponent – their attitude is, well, fuck those people. And since they have no philosophical commitment to making government work effectively, the vengeance factor is of greater relative importance than it might otherwise be. Still, it is pretty stunning to see them assemble such a wrecking crew. We knew that a Republican win would mean hitting the ground running in January, and it looks like that’s going to be the case.
So what the hell – Trump has hired three generals so far: Flynn, Mattis, and Kelly, in order of crazy (most to least). Mattis seems problematic in that one might prefer overtly civilian control of the Pentagon, but then there’s putting General Kelly in charge of Homeland Security. So military control of the Pentagon and domestic security policy? Sheesh. (Don’t get me started about Flynn …. that man should be in a straitjacket.) There are also several billionaires under consideration, as well as a couple of financial crisis profiteers, most notably Mnuchin, who cleaned up on the purchase and re-sale of IndyMac, playing a prominent role in robo-signing mortgage foreclosures in between.
But I think the overriding theme is “opposite day”: putting people in charge of federal departments towards which they are either actively hostile or blissfully indifferent. Putting Dr. Carson in charge of HUD is just a case of appointing a functional incompetent to run a complex agency. Making Scott Pruitt head of the EPA is just a sick joke – that sounds like a Pence choice to me, but I’m guessing. Same with Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. It seems like the charge of each of these ass-clowns is to destroy the thing they’ve been hired to run, and I’m certain they will be successful.
Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy. And if anybody thought Trump might be inclined to throw the other side a bone for the sake of national “healing”, they must surely be disabused of that notion by now.