Friday, August 28, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He talked about what kinds of Black people he likes, and what kinds are "thugs."

This morning, with television cameras covering it live, Trump issued a pardon to Alice Marie Johnson, who had been sentenced to life in prison for her role in a drug operation. This was at least the fourth time Trump has trotted out Johnson, who is African-American, for the cameras. Previously, he had granted her clemency, then invited her to the State of the Union Address. And last night, Johnson spoke on Trump's behalf at the Republican National Convention. 

Trump made a point today of saying that the idea hadn't occurred to him until after Johnson gave her speech. This puts Johnson in the company of most other convicted criminals who have gotten a pardon from Trump: almost all of the ones still alive when pardoned have done political favors for Trump, like Johnson, or been convicted of crimes he himself is credibly accused of.

Later, in front of a virtually all-white rally crowd in New Hampshire, Trump spoke about protestors marching in support of Black Lives Matter movement. He called them "thugs" and "bad people," and tried to associate them with rioting and acts of violence unrelated to the protests. 

Trump did not mention the two people killed in Kenosha, Wisconsin, by a fervent supporter of his who had crossed state lines to "protect" the city with an assault weapon he couldn't legally carry in Wisconsin. But Trump did attack the NBA, whose players are predominantly Black, for refusing to play for three days in support of the peaceful protests against police violence and systemic racism that are happening in Kenosha.

Why is this a problem?

  • If you see the overwhelming majority of an entire racial group as "thugs," except for a few who support you, you're a racist.
  • Giving out pardons in exchange for political support is very, very wrong.