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OPINION

Trump’s America vs. America

In declaring war on anti-racism protesters, Trump’s American carnage presidency is ready for its savage close-up.

Photo illustration by Lesley Becker/Globe Staff;AFP photo; Adobe

White America can resolve this unrest. It chooses not to.

Protests, fires, rampaging police in riot gear, and the racist murders of Black people are the impossible tax this nation willingly pays to preserve white supremacy.

What President Trump is proposing — sending the military to stop nationwide anti-racism protests that began after George Floyd, a Black man killed last week after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck — is not a resolution. It’s this nation’s bloody history met with the threat of more bloodshed against those who want this country to, at last, become a land of grace, opportunity, and equality.

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Still, it’s OK, Black people. Politicians and the police officials say they “hear” us. Again.

Every time another Black person is unjustifiably killed by the police — or a white person wielding their privilege like a badge — governors, mayors, and police chiefs suddenly sound like freshmen who just completed their first semester of critical race theory.

“Systemic racism must be addressed if we are to secure justice, peace, and order for all Minnesotans,” Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota tweeted Sunday.

Yes, we know.

That’s what we, our parents, our grandparents, and their ancestors have been saying for centuries. Yet this nation does nothing because too much of white America benefits from our subjugation.

“This burning rage that you are seeing when you turn your TV on or you hear in my voice is real. People are fed up," said Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins during Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Monday news conference. “To the white community that is now waking up to see this rage, we have been telling you this forever. We have been saying this since Colin Kaepernick took a knee, we have been saying this for decades. And you didn’t listen to us. You didn’t care until you saw a video.”

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This is why whenever a Black person dies from racist violence, so many white officials act like it’s an unfortunate and isolated event. It’s “the Trayvon Martin killing,” or “the Breonna Taylor incident.” Each time someone speaks of the “George Floyd protests,” it’s an intentional perversion of history. This fight against racism in America’s streets is 400 years in the making; Floyd is one more victim in a centuries-old hate crime spree.

Now Trump is using this searing moment in an attempt to law-and-order his way to a second term in the White House.

Police officers wearing riot gear pushed back peaceful protestors by shooting tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd next to St. John's Episcopal Church outside of the White House on Monday so that President Trump could visit the church for a photo op.
Police officers wearing riot gear pushed back peaceful protestors by shooting tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd next to St. John's Episcopal Church outside of the White House on Monday so that President Trump could visit the church for a photo op.JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP via Getty Images

While plain English is a vexing challenge, Trump is fluent in this nation’s other native tongue — racist violence. His supporters best understand a clenched fist and stifling such ideas as justice and equality for all. So does Trump. In a Playboy interview 30 years ago, he praised China’s brutality during the Tiananmen Square uprising, in 1989.

“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it," he said. “Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength."

Trump is a pathetically weak man who feigns might by tear-gassing a peaceful protest as part of an absurd photo op straight from a cheesy evangelical movie. He’s a thug and a tyrant, and he craves cartoonish optics that are a much easier sell to his sycophants than the coronavirus, which he is again ignoring. Though people are still getting sick and dying, he hasn’t spoken to or met with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who leads Trump’s own task force on the coronavirus, in two weeks. In Trump’s cruel mind, the less said about COVID-19 — and the more than 105,000 lives it’s claimed in three months due to his negligence — the better.

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Besides, all that science-y stuff is boring, right? Racism is Trump’s political raison d'être and why his base clings so slavishly to this failed administration. In an election year, stoking white fears is easy. In a nation where too many white people prefer to wade through broken glass than do the hard work of breaking the insidious cycles of racism that devalue and end Black lives, Trump’s American carnage presidency is ready for its savage close-up.


Renée Graham can be reached at renee.graham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham.