A bunch stories caught my (and I’m sure your) eye over the last few days. They were:
- President Trump’s latest complaint with social media as Twitter labelled a tweet or two of his with its new “fact check” click-though to learn the truth about allegations he’s made. It did not, though, label or remove his tweets furthering a baseless conspiracy theory about a congressional staffer’s 2001 death.
- The white woman in New York’s Central Park who called police claiming a black man was threatening her, when all he did was ask her to leash her dog, as the law required in the area they were in.
- The senseless killing of a black man thought to be passing counterfeit money whose capture resulted in a white policeman putting his knee on the man’s neck to hold him down. An action that resulted in the man’s death.
- Trump’s mocking of his likely election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, for wearing a face mask in public as if it is a sign of weakness.
- The President’s continuing effort to sabotage the November election if he should lose claiming, falsely, that mail-in ballots are rich with tampering.
Where to begin?
Okay, Trump. Here is a man whose election was aided considerably by his using Twitter as his primary communication method. This morning he Tweeted that social media is silencing conservatives and threatening “we will strongly regulate or close them down before we can ever allow this to happen.”
Trump’s ability to use Twitter the last few years to voice whatever grievance, complaint or fake conspiracy theory he chooses has been a huge boon to his bypassing the media to talk directly to voters (really, though, his base). Among his biggest whoppers of his career are his numerous tweets suggesting that former Congressman and now TV host Joe Scarborough murdered a congressional staffer in 2001. A theory that has been debunked by — oh my what do you call those things? — oh, yes, facts.
Also, while he appeared regularly on Scarborough’s MSNBC program during the 2016 campaign (saving him millions in advertising dollars and greatly boosting his candidacy) now he bites the hand that fed him because the host has been critical of Trump. He will stand for no criticism.
The coroner ruled it an accidental death and Scarborough was 900 miles away from the area the day it occurred. Trump’s mouthpiece, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, backed up Trump’s theory form the White House podium yesterday. When asked why Trump keeps tweeting about this and what he is after to resolve the issue, McEnany diverted and pointed the finger at Scarborough for an interview he did with Don Imus in 2003, part of which included Imus raising this issue and Scarborough chuckling and trying to move off the topic.
This is important not only because the President of the United States (who has falsely called himself the country’s chief law enforcement officer) is accusing Scarborough of murder. The woman’s widower sent a letter to the Twitter CEO asking him to take down the inaccurate tweets because of the pain it causes her family and himself. This man was so affected by his wife’s death that his weight ballooned to 400 pounds (he since has trimmed down). He has never remarried and lives in the same house he shared with his wife.
In short, there is a human tragedy going on here that Trump and his brazenly lying press secretary are ignoring for what they apparently see as a political benefit. You tell me what that benefit is. I only see revenge by Trump on Scarborough.
The woman in Central Park was with her dog in an area frequented by birdwatchers. One birdwatcher, an African American man, asked her to leash her dog, as the law requires in that area. She not only refused but called the police, while being videoed by the man, claiming she was being attacked by a black man.
The result of this episode? She lost her dog and her job. Not equal to the pain she inflicted on the man by claiming an attack which has been taken for what it is — an action fueled by racism. She later apologized.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, police took into custody a black man thought to be passing counterfeit money in a store. Most of this episode was also caught on video and went viral. The video shows the man not resisting arrest yet one white cop held him on the ground by placing his knee on the man’s neck/windpipe. The man complained he couldn’t breathe. Onlookers begged the cop to take his knee off the man’s neck, but he didn’t. The man died. The cop and three of his colleagues, who did nothing to stop the cop at the scene, have been fired.
This is another in a long series of similar well-publicized incidents around the country, that we know about.
Trump is making fun of Biden because Biden, as Trump’s government has advised Americans to do, wore a face mask in public to protect folks around him in case he has the coronavirus. Trump has made this a manhood checkpoint. He refuses to wear a mask in public in fear, apparently, of how he’d look to the media and the public.
Then there is Trump’s claim that mail-in balloting, being allowed in many states because of the coronavirus, is rampant with forgeries. History, though, shows that isn’t true but Trump is laying markers for election complaints if he loses in November.
In a TV story over the weekend about people heading to the beaches after being cooped up in quarantine, a young man was not wearing a mask and told an inquiring reporter if the President refuses to wear one, so does he. Did someone say role model?
What connects all these stories? A diminution of us as a society and a democracy. That isn’t all Trump’s fault. He is supposed to be a role model. I can’t imagine there are people who would hold him out as such. But, there are. He is supposed to be the leader of the country, all of it not just his perceived base.
Has Trump ordered cops to kill black people? No. He says, however, there are “good” people on both sides when he talks about a couple of clearly racial incidents during his presidency — thus protecting his “creds” among racists and also trying to placate others who despise the practices.
Again, Trump isn’t the cause of our society and system of government slowly changing dramatically, but his presidency has overseen a further deterioration. Why? I don’t know — the evidence suggests he wants to be a dictator in this country. Supporters of his can say that’s ridiculous but many of us can make a good case for it.
The sad thing is that if he loves this country and its values as much as he says, he would do things to lift it up, not tear it down. He could change the societal trajectory if he wants to.