After 48 hours, US President Donald J. Trump finally condemned the white supremacists who held a murderous really two days before. At first, he condemned “violence on many sides … on many sides” as if the counter-demonstrators had been a problem to him too. His final statement was fine in that he actually named the groups he denounced and his denunciation was in no uncertain terms. A couple of things about that though don’t sit well with me.
Firstly, his second statement was too late, but as such it was fine, wasn’t it? Yet, he was hardly praised for it. His critics, so quick and numerous to condemn his first (half-hearted) statement – and rightly so – could not find the decency and good sportsmanship to praise him for the repair of his earlier flunking. How constructive is your criticism if, even when it’s heeded, you keep harping on how you had to protest? You were right and you were vindicated. Stop the criticism for the sake of criticism. If you want people to listen to your protests, you better approve of them once they agree with you. Or is all anti-Trump speech only there to discredit him? (Does he need the help?)
Or is there a deeper reason for people still not being pleased?
Secondly, something still was off in the wording of the second declaration. Did you notice too? At least subconsciously, people seem to pick up on it. Let me try to pinpoint where he still went wrong.
1. When Mr. Trump normally speaks, he uses mainly one-syllable and two-syllable words in simple sentences. Powerful commercials. He could say something like: He is a bad person; very bad. Total looser.
But when he read his second statement, it sounded not like him at all. Someone else had written the text and he had not trumpized it! Suddenly he’s “presidential.” That makes his words sound hollow.
It is a problem to sound authentic when putting down Diet Coke but insincere when criticizing racism. In contrast, his “[violence] on many sides … on many sides” seemed an off-the-cuff authentic addition. He never apologized for his initial moral equivalence, which was so off.
Not only that. He used words that some of them I had to look up. (I didn’t even know that he could read and pronounce such words.) Look at them. I checked them in the Collins Cobuild English Dictionary (1995) for frequency. It rates how common or uncommon entries are.
- Bigotry – 1 out of 5 – very rare word – “very strong discrimination”
- Supremacists – 0 out of 5 – uncountably rare – “extreme racists”
- Egregious – 0 out of 5 – uncountably rare – “very bad indeed”
- Repugnant – 0 out of 5 – uncountably rare – “horrible, disgusting”
Using such words, he imples: My regular voters, you don’t know these words; neither do I. They made me say them but you can disregard them. You know that when I really dislike someone I call them “bad bad people.” So just ignore the bookish language. It’s not me.
2. He used fake words like: “We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans.” My question: Who must rediscover that? Racists. But one doesn’t speak to racists like that! He should have said: Racists must learn that in America bonds of love and loyalty bring all people together. That’s what he should have said.
3. More poorly chosen words: “Heather Heyer, was tragically killed.” No, she was not. She was brutally murdered for standing up against Nazism. This was not a tragedy – this is bravery in the face of evil, and an outrage.
4. He first had to brag three paragraphs about his economic policies before denouncing Neo-Nazism. That is such a lack of respect for the issue, although it might have been set up like that to portray himself as a great rather than an embattled leader, being pressured to shape up.
5. In his first statement he told us that we “must cherish our history together.” Wasn’t that just what the demonstration was all about: not to trash historical leaders for having been for slavery? In his second statement, he never corrected that point (see below: Thirdly).
6. His called these fascists “thugs and criminals.” That is misplaced. Calling people names doesn’t help. It also doesn’t help to pretend that they are violating laws (“criminals”) by voicing their hateful philosophy – they are not. In Germany they would be. He took the wind out of this statement by reading from paper that they are despicable.
7. He didn’t call them Nazi terrorists. That looks extra-bad from a man stalking his predecessor for not calling Muslim extremism: terrorism. Mr. Obama at least had the redeeming factor that he didn’t want to taint underdogs in the US: Muslims. Is Trump sparing fascists?
8. He condemned White supremacists, the KKK and Neo-Nazis, but NOT: Alt-Right and White Nationalists; he’s close friends among them.
Thirdly, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. At the next press conference after this, he called counter demonstrators (“the Alt-Left”) “also very violent.” Unbelievably, he said too that there were very fine innocent people that were there to demonstrate against the taking down of the statue of the pro-slavery Lee. And George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were major slave owners. Are you now going to take them down too?
Well, in truth, “innocents,” whose demonstration were high-jacked by weapons-and-flags-carrying fascists from all over the country, should have left immediately. By marching together with fascists they became fascists by association and stopped being innocent.
It makes a crucial difference to be a slave owner at a time that all wealthy people were and when due to violently oppose its abolishing.
It’s hard to keep up with the news without a blow-by-blow overview.
In conclusion, he totally undid the second correcting statement!
And… he’s still surrounded by Alt-Right White-Nationalist racists. Also, about his record, he never apologized (does he know the word?) for: his constant racist attacks on President Obama, his stream of sexist assaults on Secretary of State Clinton, energizing the extreme Right.
Hilary Clinton, like so many politicians, often sounds insincere and arrogant, but when she talks about racism and sexism she knows the subjects. She doesn’t need to read statements from a teleprompter to discuss Triple oppression. President Trump still has no clue, as about many things besides twittering and trying to make money on the fly.
Like when on Holocaust Memorial Day he failed to name the Jews.
Am I reading too much into the president’s words? No, I don’t think so. The second declaration was not just off-the-cuff remarks. It was written over 45 hours. It should have been perfect. Any imperfection may be telling. And that’s what people react to, with or without aware analysis. And then, to add insult to injury, he undid his carefully scripted unauthentic corrections in the next press conference.
For weeks on end, the Trump presidency is scandalized by leaks from the White House. This week, the president did it all by himself. His political diaper (he’s a novice in politics) leaked so much that he got everyone p***ed who is not a total idiot on fascism. However, …
I would not call Mr. Trump a racist. Rather, he’s a total idiot on racism. That comes close but is not quite the same thing. I don’t know if many people will make the subtle difference, though. And he’s bad friends.
Is there anyone who still thinks that he’s redeemable? Many Republicans seem to ponder not if but when to drop him.
Last but not least, don’t forget that all highly inflammable talk is meant to obscure Trump’s daily executive orders to roll back all of Obama.