Thursday, July 23, 2020

John Micek: Donald Trump has seen the enemy — and it is us

And on our streets, as they have for months, a multiracial, multigenerational, gender-spanning coalition of Americans have continued to march, calling for change, demanding better of a country whose status as a beacon of hope to the world is looking dimmer and dimmer all the time, writes John L. Micek for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

Rather than move forward with the rest of the nation, President Donald Trump's White House is getting ready to expand its undeclared war against Americans to Chicago, Philadelphia, and other cities -- all run by Democratic mayors, and over their objections -- in the supposed guise of restoring order and protecting federal property.

In reality, these federal officers yanking protesters off the street have exceeded their authority into blatantly unconstitutional territory. They're no longer protecting courthouses or federal buildings. In a campaign worthy of Pinochet's Chile, they're detaining people exercising their First Amendment rights.

Indeed, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said his agents are now "proactively" arresting people, the Washington Post reported, sparing us such tedious notions as due process, or even probable cause. 

Those aren't the actions of a president boldly leading his people in the face of a shaky economy and the greatest public health threat in a century; one that has, without mercy or discrimination, claimed the lives of more than 140,000 Americans. They're the machinations of a coward who so disdains dissent; who so fears defeat, that he's turning the full strength and security apparatus of the state against his own people.

That's not what a democratically elected president does. Rather, they're the thuggish tactics of a bargain basement Mussolini, a leader who doesn't care how many of our institutions or norms he torches, just as long as he, and his spectacularly corrupt and incompetent clan, can cling to power.     
In Philadelphia, the cradle of American democracy, Black leaders said they fear that federal law enforcement will target the city's Black residents. That's not mere rhetoric. It's practically a statistical guarantee in a city that is overwhelmingly Black.

"These troops could be more useful finding the gun-runners that are flooding our community with guns, flooding our community with drugs, flooding our community with every other measure that makes our life chances diminished," Rodney Muhammad, the president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, said during a Wednesday news conference, according to our partners. at the Philadelphia Tribune.

That is now the ostensible purpose of the operations in Chicago and Albuquerque. But now, thanks to DHS's Wolf, we now know how these agents intend to operate.

And we've long known what Trump thinks of Black people.

In a dog whistle to his supporters that's actually a bullhorn, he's said Democrats and Joe Biden are intent on "destroying the suburbs." A campaign commercial featuring an elderly white woman fearfully calling 911 unsubtly hammers home the real message. She's not quaking because there are white kids at the front door.

And in separate news stories, we've learned that Trump's niece, Mary Trump and former lawyer Michael Cohen, in an unpublished manuscript, allege that President Trump used racial epithets. This isn't news coming from a president who thinks the developing world is filled with "s**thole" countries.

And by executive fiat, as the Capital-Star's Cassie Miller reported this week, the White House has said undocumented immigrants can't be used for congressional apportionment -- a move that serves the disgusting dual purpose of both marginalizing people of color and diminishing the representation of urban Americans in areas that tend to be Democratic strongholds.

At a news conference Wednesday, Trump said he might or might not wait for local officials to ask for help. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has told him to stay away.

Former Gov. Tom Ridge, a former Homeland Security czar, has said "it'd be a cold day in hell," before he'd allow "uninvited" federal forces into one of his cities. Will Trump listen, and stick with the tradition of nonintervention without local invitation? The evidence is not encouraging.
Meanwhile, a record 69 percent of Americans say they believe Black and Brown Americans are denied equal treatment in the criminal justice system, and nearly an identical amount (63 percent) support Black Lives Matter, according to a new ABC News poll.

And a majority of Americans. (52 percent) support the removal of Confederate monuments, according to a June Quinnipiac University poll. Trump, meanwhile, remains a staunch defenders of the symbols of racism and treason.

The trend lines in both polls have moved in an upward trajectory, even as Trump and his supporters, with the silent acquiescence of Republicans on Capitol Hill, have tried to move the country ever backward, into a past where Blacks were discriminated against; LGBTQ Americans were rendered invisible, and women weren't supposed to work outside the home.

That America is gone. And no matter how many skulls Trump tries to crack, it's not coming back. America is leaving a sad and scared man behind.

But the fight isn't over. With Trump signaling that he may not accept the results of the November election, it will take all of us, rising up and speaking with one voice, that his time is gone. 

Because that's the way actual democracies work.

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