OPINION: Trump is America

Reading Time: 10 minutes
  1. By Brian Browne


SPARKED by the street side execution of George Floyd, protests brewed in over 100 cities across America. Add to this, protests in world cities such as London and Paris, two metropoles with their own long register of bigoted nastiness. Protests took place in distant Australia which also has its tainted history regarding the death-treatment of its dark-skinned people. Add to this the irony of those nations that America regularly harangues turning the tables by lecturing America on its racial brutality. Even, the Pontiff at the Vatican joined the admonitory frolic. America has certainly made a domestic and international spectacle of itself. Yet, one would be mistaken to view recent events as some aberration.

The killing of Mr. Floyd was but the latest act in the longest running morality play in America. There is nothing as quintessentially American as the killing of an unarmed black man. This play is performed on every corner, in every community, in every city, in every state of the nation. It is a play in which everyone knows their role; it features the dialogue of maltreatment and evil command. Usually its actors remain anonymous. The black man’s role is that of a malevolent prop devoid of requisite humanity and deserving of no compassion. Such a thing is liable for whatever untoward treatment that may find it. If lucky, the black man may get mildly abused.  For too many, the climax of the play is an unjust death. But to kill an inanimate object is not a crime; it is a pastime, a form of social recreation.


The wasting of unarmed black men is a venerable American tradition, older and more engrained in the social fabric than baseball or hamburgers. Such executions more accurately depict the national personality than the imported Statue of Liberty. Baseball may pass away and Liberty’s statue may crumble but America can endure without them. However, if society can no longer unleash the police to arbitrarily kill members of its black flock then America would have lost its peculiar identity. America will not be America unless it can murder a black man and resolve the crime as if the victim committed it.

For a black man when he leaves his home to interact with the world every day is 400 years. When he returns home with body and mind still intact, he is relieved to have avoided, for another day, racism’s worst verdict and the warrant of execution issued against him.

Life is uncertain and death is a mystery. Floyd was surely conscious of the racial parameters of his society. Yet, as with most of us, he had attained a rough compromise with the racial imbalance. The man was not trying to upend the world on the day of his death. He was merely a decent man trying to live a decent life and etch out a bit of fun and happiness in the decadent and hateful world that had been given him. If he had his druthers, he would still be alive today. He had no plans to be a martyr but that did not matter. The dynamics of an unjust society had prepared him to be what he did not want to be. Because of the bloodlust of the police, the once unknown black man would be known throughout the world because how he was killed and who he was are one and the same thing.


Like every black man, he had been required to surrender a bit of his humanity to pay the strangest of debts. By virtue of his pigment, his problem transcended the notion that everything he did was wrong; to American society, he was a wrong. To rectify the wrong that he was, Floyd was demanded to regularly pay an unspoken but all too real tax. That tax was exacted at the workplace, at the store, while driving, while thinking, and even at his own front door. Yet, the payments were never enough. The more that is paid, the greater the debt becomes. All black men are asked to pay a tax for their existence that other men are not. We pay the toll generally in silence; to protest the tax is to call forward a possible death warrant and the terrible deputation of hatred.

Even though we mostly pay in silence, society is never satisfied. Thus, society periodically demands the death of a black man to remind all other black men of the fragility their society place. Whether he is shot, lynched, bludgeoned, choked, dismembered or dragged through the streets is secondary. The real issue is that some of us must be killed to maintain the social order. A bit of ever-present terror and depravity are ready levers in the service of this mean objective. Your right to live is conditional, your right to breathe contingent. This reality fueled Floyd’s murder; this reality fuels the protests.


The line of protests over Floyd’s killing obscures an untidy fact. Immediately after his murder, the institutional fix was in. Despite the undisputed facts revealing a murder, the system had geared up to give the guilty police officers a pass and to blame Floyd for sticking his neck beneath the knee of a white policeman. Days passed without criminal charges levied against the murdering officers. Had the protests not happened, charges would not have been brought beyond the commission of a lesser crime or misdemeanor. The white county prosecutor, an ardent chum to the police and fast accuser of black people, tarried as long as possible. He tried not to charge the murderers who he considers heroes of the ignoble system he so loves.

Only after the political pressure and publicity born of the protests became so strong did the prosecutor buckle. At that point, his career was on the line. The officers were downgraded to dispensable pawns. Even heroes have to be sacrificed to protect the system. The county coroner also attempted to protect the murderous quartet by issuing an initial autopsy report that obfuscated the cause of death to point of suggesting the torture Floyd suffered was coincidental to his death not the proximate cause of it. However, this would not stand.

The coroner’s report simply could not erase the video of the execution. To believe the autopsy, requires one to disbelieve his own eyes and everything he knows about the human body and how it breathes. Moreover, the family had the foresight to order an independent autopsy. Once that autopsy was done, the official autopsy had to be amended to admit Floyd was the victim of a homicide more than he was the victim of his own blackness. Incident by incident, black people are slowly coming to the point where they hate being killed by racism just as much as racism loves killing them. In the vernacular of the street protests, black lives finally do matter.

Here we must dispose of a tremendous myth. Mainstream politicians, the media and its army of pundits have been consistently declaring that such brutality is the work of a wayward few; but 99.9 percent of officers are wonderful, upright citizens. This is a terrible lie that serves no purpose other than to conceal the true extent of the problem. It thus also exposes the subtle racism of the mainstream and all who traffic this inaccuracy. Clearly 40 percent of Americans are racists who loathe blacks. Some of such racists are self-hating blacks.

Police employment tends to attract a concentrated number of these racist malcontents who revel at the prospect of assaulting dark-sinned people under the color of law. Thus, whenever a black man meets a police officer, the odds are that he has just encountered an antagonist. The police generally enforce oppression not justice.  This puts them in the American tradition. For part of the original foundation of American law enforcement was the brutalization of the nation’s black population. The protests were sparked by Floyd’s death but they were not caused by his death; the protests were caused by millions of such incidents and other injustices that date back to the very establishment of the American nation; for the 50 states may be united but America’s races never have been.

For over ten days, protests have been the daily fare. President Trump has mishandled this situation with his usual blunt, unapologetic bigotry. Trump’s performance has been somewhat disappointing. Not that he would have acted in an enlightened way. But that he would have been more innovative and modern in how he manifested his hatred toward blacks. Instead, he clumsily reenacted a script from the 1960s-70. Calling himself the “law and order president” and threatening to shoot protesters and chase them down with dogs and guns is not new to America. Reagan did it. Nixon did it before him. Every southern Governor and police chief did it. Trump is simply the latest edition in a long string of racist leaders.


President Woodrow Wilson is considered as one of America’s finest leaders. He was also one of its most flaring racists. Wilson is widely lauded for his futile attempt to make the world safe for democracy after WWI but he is rarely criticized for his greater success in making America an unsafe purgatory for the black man. During his two terms in office, Wilson instituted a policy of firing black federal government workers. He called blacks an “ignorant and inferior race”. Not only did he avidly oppose black voting rights, he publicly supported the violent Ku Klux Klan in suppressing black people. When black soldiers returning home from WWI were hunted and lynched in the streets, Wilson thwarted any attempts to stop the carnage.

Wilson’s attitude toward black people continued to dominate even after he left office. The Tulsa Massacre occurred 99 years ago this month. The black population of Tulsa had created an oasis of prosperity and tranquility for themselves. So successful and prosperous, their community was dubbed “the Black Wall Street.” The racists claimed they hated blacks because they were poor and ignorant failures. Seems the racists hated blacks even more when they toiled to become prosperous successes, more affluent than their white neighbors.

For a period of several days, white marauders descended on the black community. They killed, raped and pillaged. A plane dropped locally made bombs on the peaceful community. In the end, hundreds were slaughtered, thousands wounded and over 6000 temporarily interned in concentration camps. 35 blocks of idyllic housing and robust small businesses were destroyed. No whites were charged for anything. Many blacks were jailed and tortured for falling to accept their role as hapless victims.

Those claiming that Trump’s threat to use military force is an abhorrent departure from presidential tradition are also either ignorant or lying.  Bush the Elder did so in 1992. It was done during the Nixon and Johnson years.

In 1932, President Hoover had enough of the makeshift encampments along the Anacostia River in the nation’s capital. The encampments were populated with jobless former war veterans who came to Washington seeking to be paid their overdue war bonus. They became known as the Bonus Army and numbered in the thousands. Though or perhaps because it was an election year, Hoover ordered Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur to use military force to end the encampments.

MacArthur turned to a colonel by the name of George Patton to accomplish the awful deed. Patton ordered his infantry soldiers to fix their bayonets. Those on horseback brandished their swords. They then waded into the encampments. After first, the jobless veterans cheered for they thought the display was in support of their cause; they could not imagine their former brothers in arms turning upon them. They soon understood the reality. Their camps were being ransacked and disheveled, with thousands of poor men, women and children chased from the city at the point of an oncoming saber.

While this was going on, MacArthur walked up and down the streets gleaming at the destruction.  MacArthur had even misbehaved in excess of the terrible order Hoover had given him. However, MacArthur was not to pay any price. A general named Dwight Eisenhower would bury the negative report against him. The three officers involved – MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton – would become among the most decorated soldiers in American History. One almost became president. One would become president.

Thus, Trump’s antics and threats to use military force to disperse protesters are not deviations from American norms. He is squarely within the American racial tradition. All the experts and political commentators who now claim he is an outlier are either unlearned in their nation’s history or hope the people are.

Superimposed on the protests is a fraternal battle within the elite establishment for political control of the nation. Remember that this is an election year. The elite is potent but far from omniscient. For the past few decades, the elite has miscalculated the social balance. It has allowed too many people of all colors to suffer social and economic decrement. Whenever the people raised a concern, the elite arrogantly intensified the inequality, quashing the voice of even modest dissent. Peaceful movements like Occupy Wall Street were buried. The national leadership embraced a mean, unabashed conservatism reminiscent of the late 19th century Gilded Age. Enter Mr. Trump as the inevitable result of this regressive lurch.

Every year, more and more young, working class and poor whites felt as if society betrayed them. Their economic status declined as their drug use and suicide rates rose. Life expectancy fell for lower class white males. Their economic mistreatment started to resemble that of the black man. Many started to feel as members of the underclass. They were America’s new ni**ers where, for whatever reason, the nation decided it needed some new ni**ers to augment the regular stock.

This breached a foundational tenet of American society. Whites, no matter how lowly, were always to be better off than blacks. During the Gilded Age, a similar miscalculation happened; then the progressive black and whites formed the Peoples or Populist Party. Members set aside racial differences in pursuit of economic justice. The draconian Black Codes were initiated in part to break this unity and restore to poor whites that false sense of superiority. Mix in a hint of political repression and the Peoples Party died a quick death while the racial and economic hierarchy was reaffirmed. The elite now seeks a similar recalibration before things go too far down the progressive road.

Trump already was stumbling due to COVID-19. Now he has lost control almost entirely. Trump dare not show sympathy for Floyd less his base turn against him. Instead, he is limited to telling people to forget Floyd because the economy is recovering from COVID. If that does resonate, he then threatens fire and brimstone toward those who insist on protesting. Events have succeeded in revealing Trump to be an empty figure. He has been reduced to nearly incoherent babbling much like a lunatic so in love with his own madness that he fears sanity may somehow befall him. Thus he acts crazier still, to ward off reason and reality.

The moderate elite now seek to take control of power from Trump and his arch conservatives. The moderates are more subtle thus more dangerous than Trump. Like Trump, they abhor genuine reform and progress; but they can speak the language of change in a manner that deceives the unwary to believe the moderates are on their side.

Thus if you watch CNN or read the  mainstream American press they are replete with stories of how blacks disproportionately suffer from COVID, from joblessness, from police brutality. Blackness is this electoral season’s righteous cause. But seasons quickly change. Much of the protest is being steered to position Trump as the arch if not the only villain.  This would be an incomplete portrait of a nation. The revealing light should be cast on Trump but not him alone. All Republicans and almost all Democrats are too part of the rogue’s lineup.

Trying to make themselves appear as radical reformers, moderates have rolled out pliant black personalities to speak as they have been told. These black leaders are more factotums of the elites than representatives of the people. Almost every elected black politician fits this category. Most black public intellectuals crave mainstream funding and approval so they say only what a hired mouthpiece must say.

Such black people are now presented 24 hours on television in order to stoke the people against Trump but also to sufficiently corral the people from finding their own way.

Black Democratic leaders now vociferously condemn police brutality and busy themselves with new laws against it. This is theatre. During Obama’s 8 years, many blacks were killed in similar circumstances to Floyd but these black leaders did next to nothing. During his tenure, Obama’s “Audacity of Hope” degenerated into the “Mendacity of Nope.” He sided with power instead of those he claimed to be his people.  Now he has the gall to speak of change; when he had the power to effect change, he demurred like the servitor he is.

The moderates know that if they solidify the black vote against Trump that he will surely lose. This is their primary objective. Hopefully black folk are smarter than this. They should keep protesting and in the process find new leaders. Unless they shun the moderates as well as the Trumpian programs, they will never be free. America will continue to be as America always has been. Another George Floyd will not be able to breathe. Black men and boys will continue to die for no reason at all.


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