Trump’s War

Photograph Source: Winkelvi – CC BY 4.0

President Donald Trump chose a national holiday traditionally intended for joy and unity to deliver dark, combative harangues against a “radical ideology” that is no more than “violent mayhem” designed to overthrow law and order.

In speeches at Mount Rushmore on Friday evening and on the South Lawn of the White House Saturday to commemorate America’s 244th birthday, Trump minced no words and stayed true to form in appealing to his conservative and white supremacist base by making clear he was taking sides in a burgeoning culture war between honoring a past scarred with racism and civil war and a “new far-left fascism” that seeks a future of social justice free of inequality. He couldn’t have been more divisive.

“Their goal is not a better America. Their goal is the end of America,” he said of demonstrators demanding social justice reforms of police departments nationwide, among them the Black Lives Matter movement.

Trump appealed to his few thousand admirers Friday in an amphitheater beneath the carved busts of four presidents in the Black Hills of South Dakota to honor the monuments and statues saluting America’s past, shunning the fervor of the present in which millions of Americans have marched for their country to bring alive the ideals invoked in sacred documents that have guided American jurisprudence and for which Americans have died from the green fields of Lexington and Concord to the bloodied sands of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The radical ideology attacking our country advances under the banner of social justice,” Trump said. “But in truth, it would abolish both justice and society. It would transform justice into an instrument of division and vengeance and turn our free society into a place of repression, domination and exclusion. They want to silence us, but we will not be silenced.”

That’s most of what Trump has been doing for 3 ½ years.

He is seeking reelection against a growing tide of what Trump branded a “left-wing cultural revolution” that has toppled statues of Confederate generals, slave owners and even of Columbus in a quest for recognition of the need for racial justice. He condemned a social movement that since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25 has pushed for an end to police brutality against Blacks and other minorities.

Most of the demonstrations have been peaceful but Trump inflated their impact, making it sound as if protesters were rampaging through cities on a wave of destruction that he characterized as “violent mayhem.”

“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” he told the crowd in which few wore masks or practiced social distancing. “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.”

Trump recently signed an executive order to punish people who destroy monuments on federal property.

His racism is well known by now, from his saying there are “very fine people on both sides” at the white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville in 2017 in which one woman was killed to his condemnation of Black football players for kneeling during the national anthem that cost one his career.

But the protests for change may be inspiring Americans more than Trump and his fellow Republicans may realize, creating more of a backlash to the president’s policies, including his refusal to take charge of the pandemic, leaving it to governors and mayors, and calling on the military to suppress demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

Civics Analytics, a data company whose clients include Democratic campaigns, released four recent polls that indicate between 15 million to 26 million Americans have participated in demonstrations over Floyd’s killing, The New York Times reported Saturday. Further, 500,000 people staged protests in nearly 550 locations countrywide June 6.

There have been more than 4,700 demonstrations since the first of them erupted in Minneapolis May 26, according to a Times analysis. It quoted Kenneth Andrews, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as saying the widespread nature of the protests are “a really important characteristic and helps signal the depth and breadth of a movement’s support.”

Significantly, the Times reported that there have been demonstrations in at least 1,360 counties – more than 40 percent of counties in the country — and that, unlike past Black Lives Matter protests, nearly 95 percent of counties in which there were demonstrations are majority white and more than three-fourths of the counties are more than 75 percent white.

“It looks, for all the world, like these protests are achieving what very few do: setting in motion a period of significant, sustained, and widespread social, political change,” Emeritus Professor Douglas McAdam at Stanford University, who studies social movements, told the Times. “We appear to be experiencing a social change tipping point – that is as rare in society as it is potentially consequential.”

More articles by:

Richard C. Gross, a career journalist at home and abroad, retired as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.

Weekend Edition
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Dean Baker
Rental Inflation Appears to be Slowing, Especially in High-Priced Cities
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
James Haught
White Christian Bigotry
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time