Two things

Dear President Trump,

I’ve got two things on my mind this morning, both of which are follow-ons from letters earlier in the week.

The first has to do with whether the king-makers have drawn any lines in the sand that you aren’t supposed to cross or if the point is for you to sow maximal chaos and destruction. Are they giving you free rein to glory in your “chief law enforcement officer” and to quash any and all noise about Russian interference in the 2020 election? Are they happy to let you be you no matter what turn that might take or are they keeping tabs on whether people are getting angry and freaked out enough to take to the streets?

I know you aren’t going to tell me if for no other reason than you’re almost certainly clueless about their goals and contingency plans, but it sure would be helpful to know what it is they want you to do and what, if anything, they don’t want you to do. And I realize how paranoid and nuts all this sounds. Maybe it’s my attempt at explaining an inexplicable universe much like people have been doing since the dawn of consciousness, inventing invisible, omniscient, and omnipotent forces that judge, pull strings, grant dispensations, and mete out punishments – the gods, Gods, and God figures so many of us use to understand our places in time and space.

No, I’m actually not imagining supernatural beings, gods or demigods, lurking in the shadows calling the shots; there’s really quite a lot of evidence that real humans like Vladimir and the Red Sea Five put an awful lot of money and clandestine shit into the pot to boost your chances in 2016 and have kept adding to said pot (emoluments, anyone?) to keep you on retainer. Plus there’s the Mercers and the Kochs (now Koch) and the NRA people and, and, and…. But are they, or is some critical subset of them, coordinating their efforts and either giving you clear marching orders or are in agreement that you’re a handy top they can let spin out? They certainly know, but as far as I can tell, the American public is really in the dark on these questions and the best we can do is make semi-educated guesses and try to not let our imaginations run too wild.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about a lot is related to yesterday’s letter and it’s how little I’ve seen in the national media about police killings of Black people this past year. I just checked the WP’s running database ( and it’s certainly not that the numbers have fallen off –

2015   994
2016   962
2017   986
2018   992
2019   1,004
2020   103 so far

If anything, the numbers have increased, but press about them has fallen off the front pages of at least the WP and the HP, and a quick search of “police shootings Chicago” didn’t come up with any headlines about new incidents in 2019. Granted it wasn’t an exhaustive search, but it’s weird (suspicious, troubling, infuriating, etc.) that the killings continue unabated but attention has dramatically shifted away from them.

What gives?

Is it related to whatever forces led the NFL to make an about face on the related protests? Did someone in the shadows say, “hey, I know, if we make the players stop protesting and make journalists stop covering these killings, we can essentially erase the issue but go on terrorizing Black and Brown communities with impunity. Sound good? Yeah, I thought so.”

And how much overlap is there between this group of shadow figures and those benefiting from you running amuck? My bet is there’s not much shade between them.

May we be safe from forces we can’t see.
May we be willing to shine light on said forces.
May we not be complacent about democracy’s health or the dangers facing people of color.
May we…. What? I don’t know – peace of mind, at least, feels like a luxury we can’t afford.

Tracy Simpson

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