Campaign tactic: spewing racist hate

Dear President Trump,

It was a mistake, I know. I’ve advised my patients to stop watching/reading/listening to news well before bedtime for years and years, long before this unhealthy mono-news diet featuring all you, all the time. But last night after the last dog walk at the tail end of the day, I took one more pass through media-land and saw that you all had been whatever the opposite of a busy beaver might be. I think an apt analogy is that of a wrecking ball run by a hyperactive sadist. Whatever imagery one conjures to describe it, the WP featured stories of at least three shitty ways you all have recently devised to drag us back into the darker ages by the hair.

I don’t remember now what order I saw them in, but they included the gag order on healthcare agencies receiving federal funding prohibiting them from conveying any abortion-related information, the plan to relocate most of the senior BLM management and infrastructure from the DC area to somewhere West of the Rockies where they can’t effectively interface with Congress, and the new requirement that people seeking asylum in the US must have attempted to secure asylum in a country they pass through on their way to the US before they will be allowed to seek asylum here. They are all over the place in terms of their foci and their impacts, but they are all nifty additions to your 2020 campaign dogma that should play well with your base.

And then I saw this in the HP: “Death Of Baton Rouge Activist Found In Trunk Of Car Ruled A Homicide.” Now I’m sure there are formal steps that must be taken to formally conclude that a suspicious death is a homicide, but this headline seems idiotic at best and profoundly disrespectful at worst. What the hell else could Sadie Roberts-Joseph’s death have been? I imagine the HP probably only meant to keep her death in the news, maybe to keep pressure on the Baton Rouge police department to thoroughly investigate. Or maybe they were incredulous that the BR police department took four days to determine that she couldn’t have possibly have left her cornbread in a neighbor’s oven, taken a stranger’s car, driven it to a remote location, and then locked herself in the trunk. There was, however, nothing indicating that it was anything but straight-up reporting. Very weird. And off-putting, to say the least. (Just now I am seeing that a tenant who owed Ms. Roberts-Joseph back rent has been charged in her murder. The man is African American and there doesn’t seem to be a racial motive, though this almost certainly played out in the context of poverty at least partially fueled by systemic racism.)

Before closing, I want to call out Frida Ghita’s column in the WP today. She laid out a compelling case that your incessant racist tropes follow the standard authoritarian rulebook and essentially amount to campaign ads (as presaged above). She’s basically making the same case lots of us have been making for a very long time, but she does a great job of drawing specific parallels between your recent racist provocations (e.g., attacking the Squad on Twitter, accusing them of racism and anti-Semitism, previewing the ICE raids, and migrant children, women, and men crammed into squalid cages) and the “othering” tactics of the most despicable authoritarians from the last 50-ish years. She foreshadows that we will be seeing much, much more of this over the ensuing months as you ratchet up your efforts to maintain power and wreak as much havoc as you all can muster.

It shouldn’t be asking much, but may we be safe.
May we be willing to stop getting snagged by you, to stop giving you free airtime.
May we insist the debate be elevated to a saner, healthier level.
May we support leaders who are invested in lifting people up.

Tracy Simpson

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