Blow: A rebel, a warrior and a race fiend

Blow: A rebel, a warrior and a race fiend

September 27th, 2017 by Charles Blow/New York TImes News Service in Opinion Times Commentary

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Donald Trump is operating the White House as a terror cell of racial grievance in America's broader culture wars.

He has made his allegiances clear: He's on the side of white supremacists, white nationalists, ethno-racists, Islamophobes and anti-Semites. He is simpatico with that cesspool. And nothing gets his goat quite like racial minorities who stand up for themselves or stand up to him.

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors was asked about the annual rite of championship teams visiting the White House, and Curry made clear he didn't want to go because "we basically don't stand for what our president has said, and the things he hasn't said at the right time."

Trump responded to Curry's expressed desire not to go by seeming to disinvite the entire team, to which Curry responded with a level of class that is foreign to Trump. Curry said, "It's surreal, to be honest." Curry continued: "I don't know why he feels the need to target certain individuals, rather than others. I have an idea of why, but it's kind of beneath a leader of a country to go that route. That's not what leaders do."

Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry takes questions from the media after NBA basketball practice in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. President Donald Trump doubled down on denouncing protests by NFL players and rescinded NBA star Stephen Curry's White House invitation on Saturday, a series of tweets that quickly inflamed football and basketball stars and even prompted LeBron James to call the president a "bum." (AP Photo/Janie McCauley)

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Photo by The Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Of course, Curry is correct. Not only is this episode surreal, the entire Trump tenure is surreal. He is not a leader.

Separately, on Friday night at a political rally in Alabama, Trump took to task NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem and NFL owners who allow it. Trump said owners should respond by saying: "Get that son of a b—— off the field right now, out, he's fired. Fired!"

Pause. No, full stop. Folks, this cretin is who we are supposed to call a "president." He uses harsher language against people quietly protesting injustice than he does against violent racists marching through the streets. Unbelievable. OK, continue.

Last year, Colin Kaepernick, who was then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, kicked off these protests when he began to quietly kneel during the pregame playing of the national anthem.

At the time he explained his rationale to NFL Media, saying: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." He continued, "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Let alone that the anthem was authored by a white supremacist, Francis Scott Key, who was a proponent of African colonization — exporting free blacks back to Africa — and an opponent of the anti-slavery movement.

Let alone the fact that the third stanza of that anthem, the part that you never hear, goes like this:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,

That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,

A home and a country, should leave us no more?

Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave,

From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.

This is thought by some to be an excoriation of the Colonial Marines, a mostly black unit composed primarily of runaway slaves who fought for the British during the War of 1812, on the promise of attaining their freedom. The unit humiliated Key's own unit in battle. As Jason Johnson, a professor of political science at Morgan State University and political editor at The Root wrote on the site last year: "With a few exceptions," Key "was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time."

Kaepernick's objection is valid on its own, but the anthem itself is problematic. It all points to the complexity we encounter when we pull back the gauzy veil of hagiographic history we have woven.

The exploitation of black bodies and the spilling of black blood are an indelible part of the American story, and how we deal with that says everything about where we are as a nation and who we are. This is about far more than football and flags, about more than basketball and battle cries. This is about American memory, the ongoing quest for equality, the racial inequities fused to the DNA of power in this country. This is also about the response to minority advances and the coming minority-to-majority demographic conversion.

This is about the honest appraisal of what America was, is, and should be.

Trump is not a proper leader for any moment or any conversation, let alone this moment and this conversation. Trump has no desire to advance truth and reconciliation when it comes to race in this country. His venality and vulgarity seek only to exploit white racial anxiety and hostility, in the most vulgar of terms, to maximum political gain.

With every passing day, Trump diminishes the office of the presidency and elevates a virulent strain of racial animus. Trumpism is becoming ever more synonymous with racism.

The New York Times

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