To celebrate Martin Luther King Day today, Donald Trump did absolutely nothing. No public event, no speech and the White House Twitter account had an obviously staff-written quote with Trump’s name pasted onto it.
Mike Pence, who has protected, supported and enabled the most racist words, actions and policies of Trump also had his name slapped on a bland (Pence’s favorite flavor) tweet.
Republicans in Congress are preparing to pervert justice in the Senate impeachment trial that begins tomorrow against Donald Trump…to protect Trump’s hateful, bigoted regime and help it continue to attack and oppress people of color.
The FBI, documented as spying on, harassing and trying to push to suicide, Martin Luther King, also tweeted a hypocritical recognition of him…instead of apologizing for having tried to destroy him.
And in Virginia today, the NRA and white nationalists descended on Richmond wearing camouflage, masks and carrying military weapons in their hands to terrorize the state government and citizens…especially those who aren’t white or in favor of madmen buying guns and committing mass shootings of innocent people.
Welcome to MLK Day in the Trump Era.
It is important on this day to focus on the moral crusade and self-sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King. At a time when those who dared to stand up for the civil rights of African Americans risked assault, imprisonment and being murdered, Dr. King bravely and defiantly stood up as a leader. There were others who either with him or separately, fought for racial equality in those times (and before and after) who also deserve recognition for their meaningful work. On this day though, we remember and celebrate the life of this exceptional man of conscience and action.
Clearly, this racial tension can’t be diffused by intensifying it with angry confrontation. It also would be misguided to believe that one can simply reason with racists into not being racists. There seems to be one peace-minded path and unfortunately, it is a longer path. In the near term, that is, this year of 2020, the approach that may be the most practical is to save resources from trying to change the minds of race-insecure white voters who now follow Trump and instead invest in greater turnout by the majority of fair-minded Americans who don’t.
If this results in a Democratic president in 2021, Democrats need to be good winners. Yes, among the first priorities should be to reverse the deterioration of civil rights that Trump and Republicans have been using especially to assault people of color. Additionally, an environment of tolerance towards all Americans but public confrontation and shaming of open racism could help strip it of validity drive it out of the mainstream once again (including when it arises in state election laws, policing and the justice system). And pairing this with a focus on economic justice, protecting and enhancing the social safety net for all, reducing the wealth gap, investing in housing, subsidizing schooling and investing in infrastructure could reduce the energy behind white insecurity and racism as it improves the standard of living for all Americans.
Right now, under Trump’s white nationalist rule, Americans are under siege and people of color are the biggest and most frequent target. If Democrats regain power in 2020, there would need to be a shift from the currently justified siege mentality to one of unity.
A Blue Wave becoming a rising tide that lifts all boats.
Happy Martin Luther King Day to all!