OPINION: Liberate the White House

Americans must repudiate the divisiveness of Trumpism in November and relegate it to history’s heaps of ash.

By Uzodinma Ukagwu

It was only a few weeks ago when the United States saw an increase in anti-lockdown protests. These protests spanned across many U.S. cities and states, just like the George Floyd protests, but with fewer participants. The Right wing  threw their weight behind these protests, from talk-radio, cable, and grassroots organizations.

There was no greater cheerleader for the anti-lockdown protests than Donald Trump, president of the United States. Perhaps his most egregious comments about the protests were made on April 17, when he tweeted his support in three short and memorable posts: “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA.”

The flames that Trump and others had been fanning came to a melting point by the end of April when armed anti-lockdown protesters entered the Michigan Capitol chanting and staring down lawmakers from the gallery. The Right neither called for a crackdown on protesters or called them terrorists, nor were any of those protesters arrested. Instead, Trump called them “very good people,” and suggested Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer “see them, talk to them” and “make a deal.”

The anti-lockdown protests were not the first that Trump and the Right have supported this year. In January, Trump also tweeted his support for the gun rights protest, days before over 20,000 people, many of whom were armed, descended on Richmond, Virginia.

Now the shoe is on the other foot. In response to George Floyd’s homicide at the hands of four  Minneapolis police officers, Left-leaning protests have broken out across the world pushing for justice and rights for Black Lives. These protests have been mostly peaceful, though, admittedly, some cities across the United States, and most recently in London and Paris, have seen an escalation of violence and looting. 

And what has President Trump done? Has he sympathized with and acknowledged the demands and rights of the peaceful protesters? No, he hasn’t. The heavens would fall if he did. 

“This, my friends, is how President Trump deals with a national crisis.”

Instead he lambasted the Governors on a conference call for being weak and failing to dominate the protesters on their streets, and then gave a speech threatening to send the military to restore order if the Governors fail to do so. 

Trump also beat back peaceful protesters in front of the White House with pepper spray and flash bang grenades, later calling them terrorists. He then walked a few minutes to hold up a Bible. All for an opportunistic photo-op. 

Meanwhile, he has maintained a running commentary on Twitter in which he calls protesters terrorists, promises to set dogs on protesters who breach the White House fence, and attacks anyone who dares call out his shameless behaviour. 

This, my friends, is how President Trump deals with a national crisis.

It is clear that Trump is not the leader that is needed for this moment. Former United States Secretary of Defense  James N. Mattis put it best when he recently commented on Trump’s handling of the crisis. He stated that Trump is the first president in Mattis’ lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—nor does he even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide them. 

This moment requires someone with the ability to unite the country and push for police reform. 

Just like Trump called for the liberation of Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia in April, it is time to liberate the White House, and those protesters standing there for George Floyd are symbolic of that. 

To begin to heal, Americans must first repudiate the divisiveness of Trumpism in November and relegate it to the ash heap of history. Hopefully, the vociferousness of these protests will translate to the election in November and end the Trump era once and for all.

Copyright© 2020 by Uzodinma Ukagwu

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