A Personal Perspective
By MARCIA MOXAM COMRIE
In 1997, an enraged group of police officers brutalized Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, while allegedly telling him, “It’s Giuliani time.” In other words, they felt empowered by the mayor that they could get away with the abuse they were inflicting on “the suspect” since they had a mayor who wouldn’t just tolerate such things, but endorse them. Well, it’s Donald Trump time in the presidency and overt racism, anti-Semitism, and heaven forbid, lynching, will be the norm again if we are not careful.
What this president says is often so offensive and divisive that he makes everything worse. Take the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, for example. Neo Nazis, KKK members and alt-right nuts converge on the beautiful college town, carrying hateful signs, torches and shouting toxic utterances. The Charlottesville protests were topped off with the murder of counter protestor Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman. Her death was caused by a young motorist on the other side deliberately driving through the crowd of counter protestors.
Heather Heyer’s sacrifice recalls the tragedy of James Chaney, an African-American Missippippian, young New York Teacher Michael Schwerner and Queens College undergraduate Andrew Goodman. They were in the Southern state to register black voters when they were ambushed, murdered and buried in shallow graves. They died fighting for the freedom of their fellow Americans. This was 53 years ago. Why are we still having to fight for our freedom in 2017?
The losers—who are fighting to keep statues, flags and other reminders of black oppression and symbols of Jewish pain—now feel that they have an advocate in the White House. When American troops yanked Sadaam Hussein’s statue down from its lofty perch in Bagdad in the early days of the Iraq War, it was to show that he was not worthy of the honor of his likeness on a pedestal. Now, people are trying to do the same here with the likenesses of American traitors and enslavers and the Confederate flags that flutter over cities that remind them of what was and what could again be if we are not careful.
Trump’s failed responses to the outrage in Charlottesville have assured race baiters that they have an ally in the White House. When the president blames the victims of the intimidation and attack with an automobile and the KKK and others tweet their gratitude to the president for saying “many sides” were at fault, then they know that they have his permission to continue this reign of terror.
Trump is not worthy of uttering Heather Heyers’ name. She did what the president should have been doing. She stood up to these groups like any decent human being should. Among the decent human beings condemning these actions should have been the president of the United States. He failed us and he failed the country.
He is not a leader—he is someone who has no inkling of what it is to be president. His actions in office have been despicable. A young woman lost her life standing against bigotry and all the president can do is blame “many sides.” He is blaming the victims. How the heck do you equate those protesting against hate with those spewing the hate? It makes no sense.
It is time for all people of good will to stand up against this president and tell him to do his job and stop enabling hate groups. We are not going back to the era of rampant terrorism against black people and we are not going back to the era of the Holocaust and all the other forms of lynching and gas chamber horrors. And we are not going to tolerate misogyny and anti-immigrant sentiments.
Trump is not directly responsible for Heather Heyer’s death. But he is guilty of being the kind of president who makes haters believe that it is okay to bring their toxin back into the open of American society. By not condemning them in a meaningful way, he is enabling the David Dukes of this world.
This is not a president who can be relied upon to lead us into “the marvelous light.” This is someone who should not be president of the greatest nation on the planet. We have to keep rising up and speaking out against this.