It would be entirely different if this was a one-off remark and this could be condensed to a slip of the tongue and apologized away as an atypical political blunder.
But it’s beyond that. Way beyond that.
“On Thursday, in a meeting with senators and House members on immigration, the President of the United States, asked this: ‘Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?’”
With an exceptional amount of wishful thinking and willful ignorance, this incident could simply (and sadly, for all of us) be chalked up to nothing more than an ignorant man being thrust into a position of power and responsibility that he was wholly unprepared and unqualified for. He has been thrust into a position where he spends all (five) of his working hours each day grasping at the straws of competency, trying desperately to appear both strong and competent while clearly failing miserably at both. I’m sure this situation has played out before in corporate America. Unfortunately for us, this is playing out in the White House and the man is the President of the United States, the Leader of the Free World, and the chief diplomat of a nation which is largely, because of his frequent mishaps, blunders, and Tweets, becoming more and more diplomatically isolated and disrespected on the global stage.
At worst — and I can’t emphasize this enough — it is another alarming reminder that the President of the United States is an unhinged, unapologetic bigot with neither the cognitive wherewithal, nor the practical rationality to come to terms with the awesome responsibility and consequence that his role bears with it. Consequence not only for the United States, but for the world.
With those two options being posited, it is my sincere fear, and belief, that we are closer to the latter than the former. It is certainly not a stretch to see how someone could think as much. It is evidenced continually by every shred of policy, every one-off comment, and every tweet that graces the headlines on an all too frequent basis.
With that all being said, should these new comments from this past Thursday be something else we simply toss on the evidence pile? Is the jury really still out for deliberation on the subject? From Charlottesville until today less than a year has passed, and within that year we’ve seen hatred, racial intolerance, bigotry, and sexism more strongly affirmed and advocated for on a consistent basis than any subtle form of tolerance and understanding by this President, this Congress, and his administration. Isn’t there enough palpable evidence for us to draw a simple meaningful conclusion?
Let’s keep in mind that we’re discussing a President who openly defended the Ku Klux Klan, White Supremacists, and Neo-Nazis in a statement given four long and painful days after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville turned violent. In this instance, an oft propagated idea frequently murmured by Republicans concerning running down Black Lives Matters protestors who block traffic on highways, an idea which was affirmed by proposed legislation in several states, became a reality and a young woman was killed. It took three days for the President to deliver a speech which, as Jesse Berney wrote for Rolling Stone, “he read it with all the conviction of a hostage video,” and then subsequently contradicted his statements the very next day.
We’re discussing a President whose translucent and empty comments, again, given with the conviction of a hostage, regarding Frederick Douglass were interpreted by some as the President not being aware that he was actually long dead.
We’re discussing a President who floated the notion that all Mexican immigrants are rapists as justification for a giant wall on the southern border that initially, the Mexicans were meant to pay for.
We’re discussing a President who lobbed attacks on a gold star Muslim family, who blatantly encouraged attacks on minority protestors at his rallies during the campaign (a campaign which he is still bloviating about), and who also has been pushing the “Muslim ban” which has been thrust from court to court continually in the past year due to constitutional issues.
We can also remind ourselves of a widow of a fallen black soldier, who Trump couldn’t even remember the name of on the call to offer the nation’s condolences for her loss, and the recent incident on Twitter when the President of the United States suggested that a sitting female senator was willing to provide sexual favors for campaign donations.
Let’s also not leave out the long string of abuses and Justice Department settlements from before he was President regarding housing discrimination, how he bragged about sexually assaulting women and getting away with it due to his star status, or the most recent news that his attorney paid off an adult film star for her silence regarding a sexual encounter.
So my question is: In spite of all of this, how is this new statement somehow less than consequential, deniable, or not completely damning coming from a man whose entire Presidency has seemingly been predicated on racist and sexist behavior? How is this implausible coming from a man who has demeaned his own character repeatedly without any help from the press? More importantly, how has the line not been drawn yet and how does the Republican Party continue justifying and defending this madness? More importantly, how is whether or not Donald J. Trump is a racist still a question? Isn’t this enough to break the camel’s back?
It is of note in my mind that in both the best and worst-case scenarios as mentioned above, the common denominator is ignorance. Whether or not the President of the United States is an ignorant human being or not is something that I cannot fathom as a debatable issue. So is it not tangental that you would have to be ignorant, whether willfully or not, to support and defend him? Is the Republican Party’s platform ignorance? It wouldn’t surprise me, though, not much does anymore. We are, after all, discussing a President who in the first days of his Presidency lambasted the National Parks System for pointing out that the crowd size at his inauguration was far inferior to that of his predecessor; an issue so inconsequential and a claim so highly proveable that it is reminiscent of the pettiness of school children.
For me, the jury has been back for a long time. They’ve debated some issues longer than others, but they reached a decision. Their verdict: Guilty on all counts.