ASKIAM and Barrington Salmon, The Final Call
One-year anniversary of ‘Make America Great Again’ presidency marked by controversy and division
WASHINGTON–With just 10 days before he completed his first full year in office, President Donald J. Trump discovered all new and exciting ways to snatch humiliating political defeat literally from the jaws of victory.
At the same time he was patting himself on the back for record high stock prices and historic low unemployment rates, Mr. Trump sparked international outrage over a racist comment he made, using vile, filthy language in which he said the U.S. should limit immigration from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations in favor of countries with majority White populations.
Shocked observers remarked at each new low. “Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low,” USA TODAY wrote in an editorial Dec. 12.
But there was more shock and awe. “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries,” Mr. Trump said while meeting with lawmakers at the White House Jan. 10. “We should have more people from Norway.” The comments drew swift international condemnation, and eventually a denial that Mr. Trump used the harsh language.
One legislator who attended the meeting confirms Mr. Trump’s comments. The president “said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist,” Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), who was in the meeting with President Trump, said on MSNBC. “I cannot believe that in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.”
Mr. Trump’s history is filled with racist, hateful campaigns from challenging President Barack Obama’s legal birth status, to the first day of his own 2016 presidential campaign when he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals.”
The year marred by blunders and gaffes, growing anti-Trump resistance, ethics and conflict-of-interest concerns and a consistent pattern of lying and obfuscation from Mr. Trump and senior members of his administration.
Massive marches and demonstrations against the president in cities and towns across the country began during the Trump march to the presidency. On inauguration day, the ANSWER Coalition hosted a large gathering of tens of thousands of protesters at the U.S. Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue. Ben Becker of ANSWER said that more than 45,000 people indicated through social media an interest in joining the group’s protest near the U.S. Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue. The group, which stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, had a 28-foot stage and large sound system set up there and as the inaugural festivities played out, a succession of speakers and performers expressed their disdain and resistance throughout the length of inauguration activities.
“We’re considering it the counter-inauguration,” Becker, 33, said during the Jan. 20, 2017 protests. “The main message is that there is going to be a grassroots movement of resistance to the Trump agenda from Day One of his presidency.”
Since then, defiance and dissent from those opposed to Mr. Trump has exploded as a lack of magnanimity and concern for the country has triggered resistance and push back against the slew of executive orders Mr. Trump has signed and the direction he has pulled the country.The day after the inauguration, the Women’s March on Washington drew more than 750,000 people to the Nation’s Capital on a cold winter day. Throngs of exuberant, ecstatic women, men and children converged on the National Mall with hundreds of thousands filling adjoining streets blocks and blocks from the center stage. The overflow of demonstrators spilled out onto thoroughfares, side streets and all available spaces, effectively shutting down sections of downtown D.C.
This rally and march was organized to protest Donald Trump, repudiate his policies and the direction he signaled his intent to take the country, and also to proclaim women’s rights. The goal: to “send a bold message to our new government … and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us” the organizers said.
More protests were scheduled as the one-year anniversary of the inauguration loomed and the Resist Trump movement was gearing up to take to the streets.
In the year since Mr. Trump assumed office, the administration, through Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has reversed the Obama administration’s efforts to hold police officers accountable in the slew of extra-judicial killings of primarily unarmed Black men, women and children.
Mr. Sessions has also had no answers to Congress as to how and why the Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified and targeted “Black Identity Extremists” while ignoring the murderous rampages of White nationalists and Neo-Nazis. Mr. Sessions has begun to push back against the legalization of marijuana in some states even as more state officials and voters are bringing more states into the marijuana fold.
Mr. Trump’s comments on the King holiday belies his racist sentiment and intent.
“Now, on the birthday weekend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man of justice, and peace, and love, (Mr. Trump) calls entire countries, shitholes, dehumanizing immigrants as less than human and disposable. When does it stop?” Father Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Faith Community in Chicago said in an open letter via social media.
“Faith leaders, stand up. Speak up. Condemn this dangerous and immoral behavior, where bullying and racism, lying and demonizing of people has become a new norm for our country. Republicans, it’s time to stop circling the wagons, and covering and justifying dysfunction. Enough is enough. Our children are watching, and the Oval Office? It has become a dark and dangerous hole,” said Father Pfleger.
One Republican member of Congress broke ranks with her White colleagues and condemned Mr. Trump, calling his remarks “unkind, divisive, elitist, (which) fly in the face of our nation’s values,” Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), the first Haitian-American woman elected to Congress, said in a statement. “The President must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”
But even as each political humiliation appears to be greater than the last, Mr. Trump’s support among his base appears to be unshaken. That leads to an incorrect analysis of his political weakness, according to Dr. Gerald Horne, Moores Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston.
“I think there is a lot of self-deception amongst many in the anti-Trump base, who have deceived themselves into thinking that Mr. Trump’s base will fade away sooner, rather than later, when they ultimately see, the quote ‘truth,’ unquote. But, I’m afraid to say, there are many within Mr. Trump’s base who are playing what they call in Washington, ‘the long game.’“That is to say, there are many in Mr. Trump’s base who would like to turn back the clock, before the era of the attack on Jim Crow, for example. They’d like to turn the clock back to a time when, for example Native Americans’ land could be doled out to poor Europeans just getting off the boat. Now, I would like to think that kind of deplorable thinking is delusional, but as a student of history, I know stranger things have happened than turning back the clock.”
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan predicted that if elected president, Mr. Trump would take the United States “to hell on a rocket ship.”
Since assuming the office of president, Donald J. Trump has not disappointed that prediction. In addition, he has made 2,001 false or misleading claims in 355 days–an average of 5.6 claims a day–according to a Washington Post analysis.