On Sunday Morning, the final ragged strands of anything resembling a mask finally fell off of the face of the racist President. As has been widely reported, in a since deleted tweet Trump praised “the great people of The Villages,” alongside a video of one of those “great people” yelling “white power.” The President of these United States publicly commended white supremacy.
Now, let’s cut through the barrage of shit that his supporters will and have inevitably conspired to generate. This wasn’t ‘just a tweet’ or ‘another example of the president being a rough diamond.’ No, the White House has plainly stated that Trump’s tweets are in fact official White House Statements. Their words.
So let’s update the information: In an Official White House Statement, the president praised white supremacy.
Elsewhere, people have rushed to his defense by saying that he retweeted the video without watching it — he was just praising his supporters.
This isn’t true — he does nothing by accident — but let’s pretend that it is. The take would now be: In an official White House Statement, the president supported a video that he hadn’t seen but which contained proclamations of white supremacy by his supporters. Gross negligence at best.
Of course, the reality is that this was no accident. The man knew exactly what he was doing when he retweeted that video. Because this way he gets his asshole-signal to American nazis and then pretends that he didn’t. He gets to say he’s racist without saying that he’s racist. In doing so, he excites and invigorates his base, who we all know are excited and invigorated by this kind of thing. To beat Biden he knows he needs every single one of his rabid fans voting and if that means pandering to the far right, so be it. I suspect he’s going to cross over the line of decency many more times between now and November.
That’s perhaps the scariest thing, isn’t it? When Trump posted that tweet, it wasn’t surprising at all. It was entirely expected. If anything, the only surprise was that he deleted it (unless Twitter did that). By now, he has said a number of things that, by themselves, should have disqualified him from ever being allowed to lead a scout troop, let alone a country. But each time, it further endears him to his base. That’s terrifying. Does anybody have the slightest doubt that, were he to drop the “N” bomb in a press conference, his base would just shrug it off with a, ‘That’s why we like him — he’s not politically correct and says it like he sees it.’
When I was a naive white teenager, in a village called Kingsbury in the Midlands region of England — cis, straight, able-bodied and bursting with privilege, I thought that racism was on its way out. “The young people don’t think like the old people do,” I’d say. “After about two more generations, it’ll be wiped out.” I didn’t have a clue because my life experiences didn’t force me to be presented with how difficult things still were (and are) for many people on a daily basis. But still, surely we had hope that things were getting better. Even a little bit?
No! The 2016 election and subsequent events have proven that racism didn’t go anywhere. If anything, it lay dormant in some people like those monsters in the last Godzilla movie. Buried underground but waiting for a signal. BAAAAAA RRRRR OOOOOOOOOOOOO MMM MMM went the Trump-siren. And all of the people pretending to be virtuous said, ‘Hey guys, wake up. It’s ok, we can be our true racist selves and there’s nothing the snowflakes can say about it.’
That’s where we’re at now — hoping the people who are not willing to put up with racism outnumber the people who embrace it. Joe Biden might not be the ideal choice but let’s not play the false equivalency game. The White House needs to bring back some of the dignity that the previous administration carried so well.
It’s particularly disturbing that Trump’s tweet came on the same day as the annual BET Awards, which honor black excellence in entertainment and sport. DaBaby and Roddy Ricch screened a powerful performance that reenacted George Floyd’s death during the song “Rockstar”.
Ricch (Album of the Year, Best New Artist) and DaBaby (Best Male Hip-Hop Artist) were among the winners on the night, as were Lizzo (Best Female R&B/Pop Artist), Migos (Best Group), and Megan Thee Stallion (Best Female Hip-Hop Artist), while LeBron James was named Sportsman of the Year.
It was a day for celebrating black excellence, and the president was tweeting his admiration for white supremacists. The country is suffering through a badly-handled pandemic, and we need a leader who will bring us together and LEAD. But this guy knows that to win, he needs to pull us further apart.
So please, vote in November. Because we can’t afford complacency. Whether that means mail-in voting or if we can get out to the polls by then, I don’t know. But this election is probably the most important in our lifetimes. I know, people always say that but this time it’s surely true. The economy is strained, as are our healthcare workers. The country is divided and the far-right is on the rise.