Thursday, June 18, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He did more of the same on race.

In a Wall Street Journal interview published today, Trump was asked if he knew what Juneteenth was. Trump had originally scheduled his Tulsa campaign rally on June 19th, the day commemorating the end of slavery. His campaign has given several contradictory explanations about why that date was chosen and why he switched it. 

Trump responded: "I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous. It's actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it."

In the real world, almost everyone has heard of Juneteenth. It's a holiday in 47 states, and it's particularly significant celebration for many African-American communities. Trump's own White House (like all recent presidential administrations) has put out official statements commemorating it, although Trump was surprised to hear it, saying, "Oh, really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?"

Trump frequently claims that "nobody knew" things that he himself didn't know—like that health care was a complicated subject, that presidents issue executive orders, or that people die from contagious diseases.

His comment today was reminiscent of a flub from early in his term, when he thought 19th-century abolitionist Frederick Douglass was still alive.

A little later in the day, Trump tweeted a manipulated video implying that the real race problem in America was the "fake news" calling white Trump voters racist.

Also today, Mary Elizabeth Taylor, a senior State Department official, resigned in protest over Trump's response to handling of racial tensions. Taylor was one of only a handful of black political appointees in the Trump administration. She wrote: "Moments of upheaval can change you, shift the trajectory of your life, and mold your character. The President’s comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and Black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions."

Why does this matter?

  • It's bad if a president can't even acknowledge that racial problems exist.
  • This isn't something a United States president can afford to be ignorant about.
  • Thinking that everything is about you is not a sign of good mental health.