Trump Campaign Flailing Against National Unity Opposing Racism

Tear gassed for a photo-op. What if they were your children? Source: Daily Mail

We should enjoy this watershed moment. Trump’s worst is yet to come.

It is quite obvious that our country is enjoying a liberal moment in its unity to fight racism. The mostly peaceful protests and demonstrations have permeated smaller towns that were once known as “Trump country.” We’ve experienced a sea-change in American attitudes towards social justice that would have been unthinkable this time last year.

Symbolic examples abound: NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its racing events…the military and Congress appear willing to consider removing monuments and changing the names of its military bases commemorating Confederate generals…HBO removed Gone With the Wind from its catalogue…editors and writers have been fired for articles and public proclamations deemed racist.

Donald Trump’s approval rating, according the polling experts at FiveThirtyEight, hit 40.8% approval, 55.1% disapproval (June 16), his worst in a long time. Bigger news: An EPIC/MRA poll released by MSNBC on June 17 showed Joe Biden leading Trump by a margin of 55-39% among likely voters in the battleground state of Michigan.

Trump’s Whipping Boys

America’s genuine outpouring of pluck and grief was predictably not a learning (or teaching) moment for President Trump, an amoral man with no capacity for empathy. He called out without success the military to crush the protesters, and then curled up with his authoritarian’s playbook to misinform, sow chaos and place all blame on his perceived enemies.

Trump has tweeted mightily about a boogeyman called Antifa, naming them the “thugs” responsible for fighting with law enforcement on our nation’s streets. Trump is dead wrong. Antifa doesn’t pick fights. It only responds to fascistic ventures, like Charlottesville. My definitive article about Antifa is here. You are urged to read it.

Of course there is scant evidence that Trump’s charges are true (what a surprise!). According to HuffPost:

The Associated Press analyzed court records, employment histories, social media posts and other sources of information for 217 people arrested last weekend in Minneapolis and the District of Columbia, two cites at the epicenter of the protests across the United States.

Rather than outside agitators, more than 85% of those arrested by the police were local residents. Of those charged with [minor crimes such as curfew violations], Only a handful appeared to have any affiliation with organized groups.

Those charged with more serious offenses related to looting and property destruction…often had criminal records. But they too were overwhelmingly local residents taking advantage of the chaos.

HuffPost

If there are any outside groups posing as protesters to incite violence on American streets, look no further than Trump’s comrades-in-arms, white supremacists and other far-right wing groups. Media Matters for America has cited multiple reports of the white supremacist “boogaloo” movement “posing as Antifa on the internet in order to sow chaos and violence.” In Denver, police seized a cache of weapons from boogaloo adherents; in Minnesota, authorities found links between looters and known white nationalist associates; and in Las Vegas, the arrest of three people uncovered a right wing conspiracy to incite violence at protests there.

Fox News to Trump’s Rescue

Fox News, aka Trump TV, has amplified Trump’s fear-mongering by giving a platform to crazy right wing conspiracy theories that falsely portray the protests as “thuggery” anathema to American law and order. Examples from Media Matters:

  • Alleged that “Antifa” was “stashing piles of bricks and other objects near protests to harm police officers.” It was actually a construction site.
  • Echoed a lying attorney general William Barr that the protesters at the June 1 incident at Lafayette Square were violent and that no tear gas was used to disperse the crowd. Images confirm it was a peaceful protest; Pepper balls clearly qualify as tear gas.
  • Asserted with not one shred of evidence that Democratic donor George Soros, a boogeyman to many right wingers, was funding the protests “and should face charges.”
  • Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson had this apocalyptic warning to suburbanites: “Violent young men with guns will be in charge. They will make the rules, including the rules in your neighborhood. They will do what they want. You will do what they say. No one will stop them.”
Professional protesters? Thugs? I say not. Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP
Trump’s End Game

Donald Trump knows damn well he is hanging on the precipice of a humiliating electoral defeat. His absence of leadership in the defining crisis of our day cannot be gaslighted away; Trump owns it. His teargassing of defenseless protesters at Lafayette Park laid bare his total lack of character or compassion…at a moment when both traits are held in uncommonly high esteem.

But Trump is the incumbent, he’s got almost unlimited campaign funds and he is not restrained by any covenant of fair play. His narcissism is a known quantity, and, as such, is “priced into the market.” Everyone knows he’ll do anything to get reelected.

However, Trump’s playbook is getting a little worn, is missing some pages and seems to be lacking a coherent plot. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post, writing for The Democratic Strategist, has some thoughts about how Trump’s last stand will unfold:

Trump has made moves designed to drive a wedge between white voters, pushing them to pick a side between him and a multi-racial movement demanding deep systemic changes…The game is to discredit the protests themselves, and to shut down the conversation about what they’re actually demanding, by converting their aim into an attack on white America’s cultural values.

Greg Sargent

How this theme plays out in day-to-day events will be both predictable and gut-wrenching. We’ve seen it all before. And yet, we’ve seen nothing.

Andrew Goutman

Andrew Goutman is the editor of Enter, Stage Left.

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