The coronavirus is now responsible for more than 110,375 American deaths. The White House response to this medical emergency has failed, most egregiously in communities of color, in nursing homes, and in some work places.
Doctors Without Borders, who normally respond to poverty stricken regions, underdeveloped countries, and war zones, have been deployed to help the Navajo Nation in the US, the richest country in the world, yet somehow unwilling to help indigenous people, Native citizens. Shameful.
Meanwhile racism and police brutality has continued in cities as well. The impossibly long list of offenses grows, and are increasingly brazen and cavalier. George Floyd’s last words — “I can’t breathe”— came while he was completely restrained while he pled for his life.
So people protest, the vast majority nonviolently. Loud, yes, because they are rightfully and righteously angry at the murder we all witnessed and the seemingly unending number of such murders every year in our land. Noisy but nonviolent.
Trump calls them “thugs,” evoking racist Southern sheriffs by saying when the looting starts the shooting starts, and has never missed a chance to disrespect the #BlackLivesMatter movement. When Colin Kaepernick peacefully took a knee to protest police brutality, Trump said: "wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, 'get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired."
In that light it is not surprising that Trump has his thugs move on peaceful protestors with teargas and batons for his bizarre Bible and church photo op in D.C. on June 1. He has a long history of racism: his businesses have been punished for racial discrimination multiple times, he accuses innocent black people of crimes and calls for their executions. Trump expresses the belief that people of color are not American in all variety of claims: his — Obama must be Kenyan — birtherism, members of Congress with melanin (who were born in the U.S.) “should go back to where they came from,” with their “huts” in “sh-thole countries.” Trump’s embedded white nationalism — the “Trump Effect”— has encouraged hate groups, and hate crimes have been up since his election.
Trump avoided the Vietnam War with fake bone spurs and said avoiding STDs was his personal Vietnam. Words fail. He denies hunkering down in his bunker when protesters penetrated his perimeter. After a school shooting, he said he’d have run in—unarmed! He lacks the moral fortitude to remain faithful to his wives, to be honest, or to stick up for those suffering from injustice. He talks tough, especially when other people make the sacrifice, but it is just talk. Trump is a chicken. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get his photo-op
He tries to pretend that his gratuitous violence presents strength and the bible demonstrates his piety. The commandment to love your neighbor as yourself is lost on him, as he only loves himself.
Months of inaction allowed the coronavirus to rage; his failure crippled the economy and caused tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths and literally millions of lost jobs. Now the divisions he has antagonized have boiled-over. He is not a moral leader, but he hopes to capture Evangelicals’ votes again. He has invested heavily in the culture war, white nationalists have picked up on it, and inexplicably by any standards of decency, it is working.
In Trump’s transactional tit-for-tat world, he crossed the road in exchange for something. He traded the rights of those assaulted with chemical weapons for the privilege of white Americans wanting to condemn and judge those beneath them. The chicken crossed the road to prove that he could completely ignore the facts that black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men, and that black people are 4 times more likely to die from the coronavirus than white people, and it is ok for his supporters to ignore the truth too.
Wim Laven, Ph.D., syndicated by PeaceVoice, teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution.