Trump Has Walled Himself Off From America’s Conversation On Racism

Part of America is tiptoeing toward an uncomfortable self-examination about race. But President Donald Trump, bunkered down in his fortress behind high fences now ringing the White House, is spurning a building wave of national reflection.

The death of George Floyd in the latest example of police brutality has drawn tens of thousands of people onto the streets and caused some Americans to launch a fresh appraisal of the systemic racism and bias black Americans experience in this country.

Sensing a moment of national reckoning, some major corporations, company managers, major sports leagues and white politicians have felt compelled to speak out. Anecdotal signs of a shift can be seen in Amazon bestseller lists dominated by books about racial prejudice. A story about a heart-to-heart about race between an airline executive and a flight attendant from a rival carrier was a feel-good moment in a wrenching week.
NFL quarterback Drew Brees on Thursday repudiated his own criticism of players who take a knee during the national anthem. “I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening … and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen,” Brees said.
There is a notable absentee from this broadening debate: Trump. While he has condemned Floyd’s death and promised justice several times, the President, who has a history of flinging racist rhetoric, is not examining his own prejudices.
Instead, Trump has amplified accusations that former President Barack Obama inflamed racial angst, boasted that he’s done more for African Americans than any President but Abraham Lincoln, had federal forces charge peaceful protesters so he could have a divisive photo-op and threatened to send troops into the states.

Trump defended heavy handed action by federal security forces in Washington, DC, on Thursday, doubling down on the tough guy persona that he hopes will reverse his current polling deficit to Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential election race.

“The problem is not the very talented low-flying helicopter pilots wanting to save our city, the problem is the arsonists, looters, criminals, and anarchists, wanting to destroy it (and our Country)!” Trump tweeted.
And then, later on Thursday, Trump shared a letter on Twitter that referred to the peaceful protesters who were forcibly dispersed from a park near the White House as “terrorists.”
The President no doubt believes he is on solid ground in reflecting the sentiments of his base supporters with his hard line. Conservative media is already creating a narrative that reflections on race are liberal virtue signaling and political correctness run wild and that protests represent lawlessness by radicals and are not genuine political uprisings.
Still, that the President would not want to be part of a growing national appraisal of America’s racial wounds and the injustices black Americans face now, or feel a responsibility to lead it in a moment of deep crisis, is a reflection on his character — and the manner in which he has conducted his administration and campaigns, which have tended to open historic wounds.
The power of the moment — even as the country is battling a pandemic and consequent economic devastation — leaves open the possibility that Trump has misjudged the public mood.

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