Lest you dismiss Donald Trump’s racist history as unfortunate but irrelevant to the need to highlight the damage his policies are doing to the environment, to education, to working people, etc.–allow me to highlight the most recent evidence that he intends to make 2020 a referendum on white nationalism.
President Trump ranted Saturday morning on Twitter about an African American lawmaker by disparaging the Baltimore district that Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.) represents as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”
As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings has initiated most of the investigations into the Trump administration’s operations and policies, including recently the reports of inhumane treatment at migrant detention centers.
Trump apparently got his “information” about Cummings’ district from Fox and Friends (too bad he doesn’t pay attention to briefings from administration officials who presumably know what they are talking about, but as has been widely reported, he prefers to rely on Faux News and his “stable genius” gut.)
Trump’s attack on Cummings is reminiscent of his recent racist attacks on four minority congresswomen who he said should “go back” to the “crime infested” places they were originally from and fix them before trying to improve America. All four women are U.S. citizens, and only one was born abroad.
Trump’s language was, as usual, inflammatory, ignorant and inaccurate. (Also as usual, ungrammatical.)
. . As proven last week during a congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place.
Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!”
Trump is incapable of participating in an evidence-based discussion or policy debate. His “go to” response is always ad hominem–an attack on the person with whom he disagrees. That said, as Americans turn their attention to the 2020 election, he has ramped up his attacks on people of color.
What about his contention that “no human” would want to live in Cummings’ district?
Baltimore is the third most dangerous city in the country behind Detroit and St. Louis, according to the FBI’s 2017 crime report. But Maryland’s 7th district, which Cummings has represented since 1996, includes about half of Baltimore city and has a median household income of around $60,000 and a higher percentage of college graduates than the country as a whole.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. Young released a statement defending both Cummings and his city, calling the president a “disappointment to the people of Baltimore, our country and to the world.”
“It’s completely unacceptable for the political leader of our country to denigrate a vibrant American City like Baltimore, and to viciously attack U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, a patriot and a hero,” he said. “Mr. Trump’s rhetoric is hurtful and dangerous to the people he’s sworn to represent.”
Trump’s language in the tweet was instructive: CNN’s Victor Blackwell pointed out that Trump has often used the word “infested” to refer to places where black and brown people live. (It was also a word Hitler routinely used about Jews.)
Perhaps the best response to this profoundly unPresidential exhibit was an editorial in the Baltimore Sun. It’s uniformly great, but my favorite paragraph is the last one:
Finally, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are “good people” among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.
Or as Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who served in the House alongside Cummings for many years, put it:
“Elijah Cummings grew up facing racist bullies like Trump and learned to confront them with qualities unknown to Trump: courage and integrity,” Van Hollen wrote. “The great people of Baltimore have something Trump craves but will never have as he degrades the Office of the President: dignity.”
We’re going to hear more from the racist incompetent as November of 2020 approaches, and–like these recent examples–it won’t be the usual GOP dog whistles. Trump wants 2020 to be a referendum on white nationalism because he thinks most Americans are racists who agree with him that a “great” America is a White America.
Pick your torch, and prove him wrong.