God, save America!
As President Donald Trump of the United States of America continues to confirm people’s worst fears about him as a racist and divisive figure whose words and actions may eventually wreck his country and throw the world into turmoil, no one should be silent about the man’s moral bankruptcy. There should be no neutrality on or indifference to his recklessness because the well being of the world is at stake.
In the wake of his open support the other day for white supremacists who marched on Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting racists’ songs against Jews, African-Americans and other people of colour, it is comforting that many leaders around the world have come out in full force to condemn him.
Those who have voiced their condemnation of Trump’s bigotry, poor sense of history and relentless arrogance in ignorance have done the right thing even if their views may change neither Trump nor his ways. Humility, no doubt, is alien to Donald Trump and his predilection for dehumanising anyone who is not of his class or race or disagrees with him is deeply ingrained.
Even so, few probably expected that his demons of denigration and division would be in such bold display as president and that he would openly work to break the bonds that have for ages held such a diverse nation together. With a tongue so unbridled and vicious in cutting down all that is noble in America, he has inflicted deep wounds on his nation’s soul and consistently poured salt on the injuries.
The Trump presidency, only seven months old, is therefore fast becoming a danger to the world, not to mention the country he governs.
Yes, he won the presidency by retailing dangerous prejudices and by espousing hateful theories. During the campaigns, he heaped the blame of the country’s economic woes on anybody with a skin colour different from his and roused an army of nationalists or racists to propel him into office. He had no ideas on offer. Only rage.
Ensconced in office now, many thought, he would do better. But not him.Even with no knowledge of anything or policies and with an odious reputation as a manager, he remains a conceit with no desire to learn. Hence he has proven thoroughly incompetent in office.
Anyone who had paid even the slightest attention to Trump’s life or campaign knew that his victory was victory for white nationalists or supremacists and other bigots. Hence he has not disappointed since he took office. He has boldly and unashamedly, in deeds and words, given hope to hate and driven the strongest wedge between the diverse peoples that make up his country. He promised to make America great again but he has succeeded in building a climate of fear for all Muslims, African-Americans, Americans of Mexican origin and Jews to live under.
His latest show of shame came when protests turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia the other day as white supremacists clashed with counter-demonstrators over the removal of a statue of a slavery era icon.The original protest, which was billed to be one of the largest white supremacist events in recent U.S. history, was organised by a group of bigots.
The previous evening, however, a large number of the white supremacists descended on the University of Virginia,carrying torches and yelling “white lives matter” “blood and soil” and many other slogans against African-Americans, Jews as well as peoples of colour.
The protesters then gathered again the following day for the main event but were met by a band of counter-demonstrators who opposed racism. As the confrontation between the two camps ensued, a member of the white supremacist group drove a car into the crowd of counter-protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer and injuring scores of others.
Contrary to all reason and expectations, President Donald Trump did not use the moral pulpit that his office is to condemn the white supremacists. Under pressure, however, he eventually did, saying “we all must be united and condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one.” And two days later, after public outcry against the seeming tepidness of his tone against racists, he specifically condemned white supremacy.
But if anyone thought the president was being honest and that Trump was redeemed from his own racist tendencies and life-long history of bigotry, he revealed his true self a few days later by backtracking from condemnation of the racists, insisting that there was “blame on both sides” and that anti-fascist protesters were not different from the bigots.
“There were good people on both sides,” he also said.Once again, it is gratifying that many leaders, especially in the United States, have, happily, described Trump’s gesture, equating racists with those against it, as what it is: a reprehensible display of racism and hatred.
It certainly suits President Trump’s disposition not to recognise that he presides over a nation of immigrants and that Europeans, Jews, Asians, African-Americans and other ethnic nationalities, whether they arrived on American soil on slave boats or immigrants’ ships, have been builders of America. Indeed majority of the country’s citizens, from its founding, are non-natives. Most Americans, including Donald Trump himself, are children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of immigrants.
However, the peculiar disadvantage of African-Americans in their country is especially unjustified and heart-rending against the background that their labour as slaves built the country and their kith and kin were and remain some of the greatest contributors to the country’s success in all spheres.
From inventors like Lewis Temple who created the whaling harpoon called the “Temple’s Toggle” and the “Temple’s Iron, to Granville T. Woods who in 1887 invented the Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph which enabled messages to be sent from moving trains and railways stations; from Frederick Mckinley Jones, inventor of the first practical refrigeration system for long haul thrush, to Lewis H. Latimer, a pioneer in the development of the electric light bulb; from Gerrett A. Morgan, inventor of the gas mask and the three-way traffic signal, to W.E.B. Du Bois, the great historian, sociologist and the first African-American to receive a Ph.D at Harvard University in 1895, the United States of America is what it is because people of colour built it.
Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave in 1818 was internationally recognised as an indefatigable worker for justice and equal opportunity who became a trusted counselor to Abraham Lincoln.
Benjamin Banneker, born in 1731, made the first striking clock in America, a clock that was so precise that it struck every hour, on the hour, for 40 years. The feat earned him description as “the first Negro Man of Science.”
Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and one of its most revered figures in history.Henry Blair was one of the earliest black inventors to receive a patent, receiving two patents, one in 1834 for his seed planter and another in 1836 for a cotton planter.
From Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman to, of course, Martin Luther King, all iconic figures of the civil rights movement, the true picture of America’s greatness is that it is built on the back of African-Americans and other ethnic nationals.
According to history, by 1900, New York City had as many Irish residents as Dublin. It had more Italians than any city outside Rome and more Poles than any city except the capital of Poland, Warsaw. It had more Jews than any other city in the world. Between 1882 and 1914 approximately 20 million immigrants entered the United States.
So, Jews, Irish, Chinese and nationals from all across the world make up the American fabric. Today, the country’s economy, health-care delivery system, defence and other critical sectors are manned by immigrants, including first generation ones.That this kind of heritage, that America’s greatest strength is its rich diversity, is lost on the American president is symptomatic of his woeful sense of history.
That he could equivocate in the face of racism and bigotry of all kinds is the perfect mirror into his own soul and an illustration of the depths to which his country has plummeted.
President Trump should, nevertheless, be reminded that the history of humanity is replete with struggles by seemingly privileged ethnic and nationalist groups to lord it over smaller or weaker nationalities for control of space or for ethnic supremacy. And such attempts happened as a result of the kind of demagoguery Trump currently displays. But empires so built, in history, collapsed spectacularly. Their imperial structures, with reliance on single-minded, powerful demagogues and their disregard for the diverse peoples within their borders, became spectacles to behold in ruins.
Which is why it is obvious to all discerning minds that the American empire, like the Roman, and other empires that rose and fell, is being primed for implosion on the watch of Donald Trump.
This is time for all statesmen, especially in the United States to stand up and tell Trump who he is: a bigot America and the world do not need. It is comforting that a club of business leaders he cobbled together to help improve his performance in office has walked out on him. More of such moral statements must be made by those who can make it, even if they are members of Trump’s cabinet.
America is celebrated as the City on a Hill. And a memorable line in the country’s national creed is a prayer to The Almighty to bless America, every citizen’s sweet home. As Donald Trump takes the City to the edge of a cliff and sows intense bitterness into the citizens’ hearts, that solemn prayer has become a desperate cry: God, save America!
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