Dear National Media: You’ve certainly had enough time. But it seems, you still can’t quite bring yourselves to grasp it. This is a malevolent monster. A threat to your lives, the lives of your children. The lives of your parents and friends. A threat to the future of this country as you know it.
What, exactly, is it going to take to bring this home to you?
Do I really need to quote Michelle Goldberg to explain it? I guess I do.
Most people — or, at any rate, most readers of The New York Times — remember Donald Trump’s response to the white nationalist riot in Charlottesville, Va., as a particularly low point in a presidency full of them. After a rambling, aggrieved news conference in which he defended some of those marching with neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” Trump’s already dismal approval rating hovered below 38 percent. Staffers voiced shame and disgust to journalists (anonymously, of course). Senator Susan Collins was “concerned.”
They were “very fine people,” those Neo-Nazis marching for white supremacy in Charlottesville. Apparently the media were under some delusion that someone like Donald Trump, so “clueless,” so “removed” from politics might have made that statement in a moment of “equanimity.” Or some sort of forgivable naivete.
But, as Goldberg patiently explains, there was no basis for that conclusion. There was no basis for anyone to conclude that this “reality TV star” named Donald J. Trump was then and there nothing but the most malignant form of human racist that has ever wiggled free of the earth’s clutches to stand proudly, for his brief moment in the sun, expressing his true feelings, then and there, for all to see.
Goldberg points out that what happened directly after the Charlottesville riot was so instructive, so telling, as Trump immediately waddled his grotesqueness into a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, only days after the Charlottesville display his of white supremacist sympathies.
Onstage, Trump hinted at his plans to pardon Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff who’d been convicted of contempt of court after defying a judge’s order to cease detaining people simply on suspicion that they were undocumented. Outside, protesters massed, and violence erupted as riot police confronted them. “Some screamed. Some poured milk on their face,” reported The Arizona Republic. “Skin, slicked in sweat, burned from the chemicals in the pepper balls and pepper spray.”
As The Washington Post reported at the time, Trump’s inflammatory event was part of a pattern: “When he finds himself under attack or slipping in popularity, he often holds a rally in a place like this: a diverse blue city that’s home to liberal protesters but surrounded by red suburbs and rural towns filled with Trump supporters who will turn out in droves.”
And now, after all that has happened in the last two weeks in this country, he is coming to Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of the worst massacre of African-Americans by white supremacists and Klansmen after the Civil War. He is going there to give a speech to his supporters. Not to “unify” the country. Not to address the protests against racial injustice that have roiled the country over the last month. But for his re-election prospects, to rally his base of support.
Yet, there are people who are prepared to give him “the benefit of the doubt.” To “wait and see.” To “speculate.”
As soon as the rally was announced, people started asking a question that Trump often forces: Was the president being stupid or evil? After all, it’s highly unlikely that Trump, who reportedly didn’t know what happened at Pearl Harbor when he visited in 2017, is familiar with the Tulsa massacre.
Writing for CNN, Chris Cillizza speculated that the intended audience for the Tulsa rally could be suburban white women disgusted by Trump’s response to the killing of George Floyd and the resulting protests. Politico Playbook said, of this political moment: “Donald John Trump is torn. Torn between the impulse to speak and cater to his base, and the demands of governing a multiracial country in the throes of unprecedented turmoil and upheaval.” Somehow, even at this late date, there are professional commentators who have not grasped the full malignancy of this president.
No, he isn’t “torn.” He doesn’t care about “reconciling” the country. As Goldberg states:
It’s hard to believe these people don’t know what they’re doing with Trump’s Tulsa appearance. In 2017, The Post described how rallies in blue cities “allow Trump to highlight the deep division in the country — and force voters to pick a side.” Tulsa has a Republican mayor, but a similar strategy seems to be at work with the Juneteenth event. Trump isn’t torn. He wants to tear up the country.
He is trying to destroy this country. And he’s letting the media help him.
To all in the U.S. media, you who are charged with providing your informed knowledge and considered judgment to the American people: If you all haven’t realized what this person is by now, if there is something holding you back in that judgment, then, please, what tell us that is.
I can’t fathom what it could possibly be.
Note: It appears that the rally in Tulsa has been postponed—for one day.
It was the rare instance of the president bending to criticism.
Gee, thanks. The country is so grateful for your sacrifice.