Point of View Columns

Five Days in the Life of America

August 31, 2020

5,997,623–183,068 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

We begin the week knowing that by the end of this week over six million Americans will have been infected by the COVID-19 virus. We also begin the week knowing that by the end of the month of September, close to 200,000 will have died during this pandemic. And public health professionals are close to unanimous in stating that too many Americans are dying needlessly because of the maddening inconsistency and clear incompetence of Trump and his administration.

White Supremacy in the Modern Era

There are real and unquestionable concerns regarding the proliferation of confederate flags and statuary glorifying the defenders of slavery and white supremacy. Many of these statues and flags have been torn down and yet, as you are reading this, in Colfax, Louisiana there is a monument that explicitly and horrifically honors the white men who slaughtered at least 150 Black Americans by shooting, burning and butchering them.

If you go to Google and research this item for yourself you will have to come to the conclusion that while Black Lives Matter to Black people, there is remains a dangerously large segment of the national white community that simply does not accept that concept. That can be the only conclusion to take away from this obscenity being allowed to exist 150 years after the massacre.

There is no way to defend the indefensible and it is important to understand that this particular monument is in no way more foul, more obscene, more subhuman and more Un-American than all the rest of the statuary that still litters the American landscape.

Eliminating systemic racism is going to take a national effort and will not happen overnight. Coming to some fair and equitable conclusion to address the demands for reparations for Black Americans will not happen overnight. Eliminating the virus of racism from the American bloodstream will not happen overnight.

But removal of this foul, obscene, subhuman and Un-American garbage from the national landscape can take place quickly, if not overnight. But it will only take place when Black Lives Matter as much as White Lives Matter.

September 1, 2020

6,031,287–183,602 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The numbing monotony of the inexorable increase in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths cannot minimize the magnitude of the ongoing tragedy that has befallen this country. Every single number represents not only a human being but also family, friends and community that are impacted with fear, frustration and in too many cases, overwhelming grief.

Since he first insinuated himself into the American consciousness Trump has been dedicated to providing overwhelming evidence of his megalomania and his absolute absence of anything resembling empathy or sympathy. That is why when he does express something like sympathy or caring, it is clear that any such human expression is intended to advance his best interests.

And so we see Trump express sympathy and support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year old white supremacist and Trump supporter who is accused (and videotaped) killing two people and seriously injuring another with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle which he possessed illegally. But since this young killer is being supported by right wing racists and dedicated white supremacists, Trump wants the supporters of Rittenhouse to support him as well.

For Trump, this is the art of his every deal.

Meanwhile, during his visit to Kenosha not only did Trump not seek to visit the family of Jacob Blake, the nearly shot and maimed and permanently damaged Black man, he never even mentioned Mr. Blake and his family during any of his comments. What we witnessed once again is that to Trump, Black Lives Matter, but White Lives Matter More.

September 2, 2020

6,076,281–184,697 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

According to the Washington Post, someone who gets paid to pay attention to such things has estimated that Trump has told over 10,000 outright lies since January 20, 2017. Clearly there is some ancient Olympic record that he is determined to shatter. And not being satisfied with the title of World’s Greatest Liar, he now has decided to enter the hallowed halls of mythology and fantasy joining the Brothers Grimm and Homer.

How else to explain his totally fallacious claim that plane loads of domestic terrorists and rioters are flying around the country (garbed in Black so as to fool TSA presumably). He goes on to say that these roving bands of desperadoes are being financed by the wealthy liberal elite. All of which sounds like an excerpt from The Book of QAnon.

And the most bizarre aspect of this bit of malignant mythologizing is that there are too many MAGA hat wearing, bleach drinking, gun toting acolytes who absolutely believe him. And since they are heavily armed, they will be motivated to defend America – and who the hell knows what that will look like.

A story also surfaced that Trump’s mysterious Saturday visit to Walter Reed Hospital last November. The normal protocols seemed to have been tossed aside because of some kind of medical emergency, an emergency so dire that Vice President Mike Pence was briefed on the standard operating procedure that would have to be observed if Trump was incapacitated.

By the way, when asked Pence said he did not recall such an advisory. Which should make us all worry that either Pence is the worst liar in the White House or, if he really doesn’t remember then maybe Nancy Pelosi should get ready since she would be next in line to be President. Sorry Mike Pompeo.

September 3, 2020

6,115,098–185,752 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The mounting death and infection toll has become too awful to contemplate. Over 1,000 people dead, 211,000 predicted to be dead by September 26th. That anyone could even begin to suggest that Trump and his minions have “done a good job” automatically dissipates their credibility like an ice cube on a hot stove.

Yet the acolytes and apostles of Trump Nation continue to try to twist the numbers while they fail at hiding the mounting corpses. One of the more loathsome tactics being employed is the handiwork of one U.S. Senator Jodi Ernst. She is claiming that the number of COVID-19 deaths is being inflated by unscrupulous doctors who are claiming that many of their patients died of causes other than the virus because they get paid a higher fee from insurance companies.

Clearly Senator Ernst is insulting the heroes and sheroes of the medical profession who are literally risking their lives in this pandemic tsunami while she sits in the comfort of her senatorial offices in Washington or Iowa. But she is also insulting the intelligence of the American people who understand that a diabetic who dies after being infected by COVID-19 did not die from diabetes.

Trump has also sprayed this foul lie from his perch in the White House. A lie that can best be summed up as “don’t believe your lying eyes”.

Today also features the stark contrast between Trump and Joe Biden. Two days after Trump oozed into Kenosha, Wisconsin to somehow express his support for law and order without ever mentioning the name of Jacob Blake, much less reaching out to his family and supporters, Biden came to town. He spent well over an hour with community leaders and did something that Trump is biologically incapable of doing – he listened. And he learned.

And then Biden did something else that is beyond Trump’s ability to comprehend, much less emulate. Biden displayed empathy and sympathy for Jacob Blake and his family. He met privately with the family – he did not make them props in the Joe Biden Shown. He spoke privately with Jacob Blake by phone and listened and shared his own pain with Mr. Blake’s. He did not turn this appearance into just another campaign event.

Biden showed who he is. Just as Trump showed us all – again – who he is.

September 4, 2020

6,151,101–186,806 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans the beginning of the day)

The day begins with two items that can only create reactions of shock and disgust. It turns out that in March of this year a Black man by the name of Daniel Prude was having what turned out to be a mental health episode in Rochester, New York (ironically the longtime home of Frederick Douglass).

The police encountered Mr. Prude who was nude in the streets at 3 a.m. and acting in an erratic fashion. Despite the fact that he obeyed police orders to lie face down on the streets and allowed himself to be handcuffed, his continued erratic behavior prompted the seven white police officers to put a “spit hood” over his head to prevent him from spitting. In a sustained effort to restrain this naked, handcuffed, hooded Black man these seven police officers ultimately forced him faced down on the pavement until he passed out and was admitted to the hospital in a brain dead condition, dying a week later.

The worst part of this horror story is that this happened in March and it was not until last week that Mr. Prude’s family received some videotapes of the incident and went public with it. The Black mayor of Rochester ordered the suspension of the police officers involved (with pay) and a complete investigation and possible prosecution has now been promised.

But to the outside world this is just another scene from the Black version of the “Groundhog Day” movie. Attorney General William Barr may not think that there is systemic racism in the American criminal justice system but the Center for Police Equity has found that police are four times more likely to use physical force in encounters with Black suspects than white suspects. Trump may not believe that there is systemic racism in the American criminal justice system but the American Journal of Health has found that police are three times more likely to use lethal force with a Black suspect than with a white suspect.

Sadly, this is not news. It is another illustration of the absolute fact that Black Lives Matter, but White Lives Matter More. Always.

Sadly, it is also not news that Trump has no respect and is a man without honor. An in depth report from Atlantic magazine recounts multiple incidents of Trump disrespecting the American military men during a 2018 visit to Europe. He actually cancelled a trip to a Normandy ceremony because he was concerned that the rain would mess up his hair. And he referred to the Americans buried there as “losers”. He went on to label the U.S. Marines buried at the Belleau Woods battlefield as “suckers”.

The article recounts incidents of his discomfort in meeting with military amputees despite the obvious sacrifice of the men and women in the hospital he was visiting. And, of course, his random insulting of John McCain when he was alive and after he had died are a matter of public record.

Of course Trump denies the veracity of this article.

Of course there is no one who has spoken in his defense.

Of course there is no news, just a tragic reaffirmation of the fact that a very damaged human being is the President of the United States.