Archive for Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Opinion: Trump further divides the country

September 26, 2017

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Washington — It is often difficult to determine if Donald Trump’s offenses against national unity and presidential dignity are motivated by ignorance or malice. His current crusade against sideline activism at professional football games features both.

Protests by players during the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” are misdirected, but their motivations are understandable. African-Americans have a naturally complex relationship with a country in which one out of every seven human beings was once owned as property and robbed of their labor. A country with a founding promise that bypassed them. In 1852, Frederick Douglass asked how the American slave should respond to the July 4th holiday. “To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless. ... There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States.”

Tough words, at least as challenging as a knee to the ground at a sporting event. And the end of slavery was hardly the end of oppression. We are a country where the re-imposition of white supremacy following the Civil War involved, not just segregation, but widespread violence. A country in which mass incarceration and heavy-handed police tactics now create a sense that some neighborhoods are occupied by a foreign force. A country in which wealth and opportunity remain, in significant part, segregated by race.

If white Americans can’t even feel a hint of this alienation and outrage, it is a fundamental failure of empathy and historical memory.

Trump seems ignorant of, or indifferent to, the unfolding drama of the civil rights movement — of Abraham Lincoln’s firm hand signing the Emancipation Proclamation, of African-American military heroism in defending the Union, of the stubborn courage displayed by protesters in the front of buses and at segregated lunch counters, of Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, repeated in many bloody versions. When the president looks at protesters, he cannot see what they are trying to be.

This ignorance is matched by malice. Trump must know that rallying his white base against young African-American protesters is feeding racial tension and providing permission for bigotry. He is essentially accusing these athletes of disloyalty, just as he accused Mexicans of being rapists and Muslims of being threats. This is a pattern and habit of division by race, ethnicity and religion.

Stop and consider. This is a sobering historical moment. America has a racial demagogue as president. We play hail to this chief. We stand when he enters the room. We continue to honor an office he so often dishonors. It is appropriate, but increasingly difficult.

In this case, demagoguery is likely to be effective, in part because protesters have chosen their method poorly. The American flag is not the racist symbol of a racist country. It is the symbol of a country with ideals far superior to its practice. This is the banner under which the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry — the first African-American regiment organized in the Civil War — fought the Confederacy. This is the flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on July 2, 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was passed. This is the flag that drapes the coffins of the honored dead on their final homeward trip, to a flawed nation still worthy of their sacrifice.

The extraordinary achievement of America’s founders was to elevate a set of ideals that judged (in many cases) their own hypocritical conduct. With the Declaration of Independence, they put a self-destruct mechanism in the edifice of slavery. They designed a system that eventually transcended their own failures of courage. At least in part. With more to go.

Both president and protesters would benefit from reading Douglass’ conclusion: “While drawing encouragement from the Declaration of Independence, the great principles it contains, and the genius of American institutions, my spirit is cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age ... The fiat of the Almighty, ‘Let there be light,’ has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light.”

The president’s agenda of division is fully exposed. Faith in the Declaration, and in the genius of American institutions, remains the proper response. Under the flag that symbolizes them both.

— Michael Gerson is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

Bob Summers 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Fantastical criticisms like this about Obama were followed up by cries of code word "RACIST" from the hypersensitive congenital Liberal mobs like Gerson.

Hypocrisy is another of the many symptoms of people under the influence of the Liberal gene.

Ken Lassman 1 month, 3 weeks ago

There you have it: proof that Trump's shenanigans are divisive. Thanks for stepping up to provide a fine example.

Brock Masters 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Beginning in the late 60's I was told skin color doesn't matter, it does not define a person and I believed then and do today. It seems, however, that many do believe skin color matters.

It doesn't matter when your family came to this country, if your skin color is black you're a victim of slavery. It doesn't matter your socio-economic status, if your skin is black you're a victim of slavery. It doesn't matter,if your family owned and sold slaves if your skin is black you're a victim of,slavery.

Enough. Slavery was evil, it was wrong but it is time to move on and embrace MLK Jr.'s words of not judging a person by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Not one problem facing blacks today is unique to them or because of the color of their skin. If it were we wouldn't have successful blacks, we opulent have blacks in power nor would we have had a black president. Blacks new to this country come here and do well so it isn't the color of a person skin that holds them back, there re other factors, but is is easy to blame racism

Granted, many Americans whose skin color is black are not doing well economically and face other problems like living in crime infested areas, but keep in mind that many of these areas like Baltimore are governed by black democrats.

The politics of making blacks the victim and whites the villains divides us. Let's quit labeling people by race and look at them as Americans and let's come together to help all Americans have the opportunity for the American dream.

Bob Summers 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"Beginning in the late 60's I was told skin color doesn't matter, it does not define a person and I believed then and do today. It seems, however, that many do believe skin color matters".

Of course skin color matters.

Ask any congenital Liberal. ACLU, Government quotas. etc etc etc

Bob Smith 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Those who suffer from TDS divide the country.

Paul Beyer 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Yes, when you define tds as trumps deplorable supporters.

Bob Smith 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You and Dorothy are the current front-runners in the misunderstanding Olympics.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 month, 3 weeks ago

More BS from the Bob's.

This is what we get when we allow the Electoral College, not the majority of the citizens, to install a loser in the White House.

Bob Smith 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Constitution, Fred, ever heard of it? And no matter how much you whine and moan, Trump won the election.

Bob Summers 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Kneeling before the King's anthem is a sign of subservience to all mighty order.

Long live the anthem! Long live the NFL for it's subservience!

Long live the USA!

Mark Pickerel 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The latest "dialog", or whatever you want to call it, really concerns me.

I think we have to be careful that our fierce patriotism doesn't devolve into jingoism. Maybe we are getting there already, I don't know. I think sports teams in general have gone overboard the way they spread giant flags over the field and accept money from the military to do staged military presentations/reunions and the like. It didn't used to be that way.

I can understand how people felt after 9/11, and how our country was (briefly) united in part because of these displays. But it seems like people have forged this inextricable link between the flag and our military or authorities, to the point where few, if any, forms of protest are deemed acceptable because they offend this artificial construct that has been nurtured by the above. There is a dangerous path here, and it can lead to Authoritarian governments and the like.

Richard Heckler 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Scope of Puerto Rico damage so vast that U.S. aid hard to see …….

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/scope-of-puerto-rico-damage-so-vast-that-us-aid-hard-to-see/article36407675/

Scope of Puerto Rico damage so vast that U.S. aid hard to see ….. they have not seen anyone from the Puerto Rican government, much less the Federal Emergency Management Agency, since the storm tore up the island Sept. 20, killing at least 16 people and leaving nearly all 3.4 million people in Puerto Rico without power and most without water.

Read also: Dozens of Canadians still need help in hurricane-struck islands

"People say FEMA is going to help us," Valentin said Tuesday as she showed Associated Press journalists around the sodden wreckage of her home. "We're waiting."

Donald Trump where are you ?????

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