October 10, 2017

Horse 2331 - President Trump And The Bad Cheque

I suspect that if the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had been placed in front of President Trump, that he would have used his veto power and denied it's passage. Quite apart from his general misogyny, his complete lack of sympathy for people if they've had their homes destroyed by a hurricane, and his only timid denouncement of actual neo Nazis after one of them ploughed a motor vehicle into a crowd of protesters, he has waged a war of words against immigrants and brown people; as most symbolically pictured in a border wall that will almost certainly never be built.
I can not yet tell if the actions of his Vice President Mike Pence were orchestrated by Mr Trump but orchestrated they were, in an act more orchestrated than Beethoven's 5th Symphony with a full orchestra playing.

As far as I can make out, Vice President Mike Pence deliberately flew home to his native Indiana to see the Indianapolis Colts host the San Francisco 49'ers and deliberately left the game during the continuing knee down protests of players in the NFL. In an act which there isn't absolute proof for but which the likelihood is pretty high, it seems that Mr Pence attended the match for the sole purpose of showing visible disgust for the knee down protests, which President Trump has previously denounced because they supposedly disrespect the flag (whatever the heck that means).

By way of background, these protests began last year after a smattering of shootings of black men by primarily white police officers, by Colin Kaepernick and against the wider background of the Black Lives Matter campaign. The knee down protests started out as a one man stand but have gradually spread across the NFL. I don't know at what point they became a problem for Mr Trump but given his habit of being outraged at a thing that Fox News told him to be outraged at, that seems like a good candidate.

I don't know exactly what sort of message that Mr Pence's arrival and departure from the Colts-49'ers game is supposed to send but I do know that set against that same background of Black Lives Matter, it is not a good look. This could be anything from a simple act of solidarity with President Trump (which given his misogyny and racism) is not a good look, or it could be a doubling down on the current messaging which is being sent out of this administration. Mr Trump's comments that he could stand on the corner of 5th Avenue in New York City and shoot a bunch of people and everyone would still vote for him, it turns out is actually a very astute if not scary piece of observation. This act by Vice President Pence, practically confirms such a statement because the people who would support Trump's brand of nativism don't even waver in their support of him no matter what sort of nonsense or bile gets spat out of his mouth. Certainly Mr Trump publicly endorsed Mr Pence's actions via his favourite bully pulpit, Twitter.

One of the interesting things about the knee down protests is that while people want to denounce them as UnAmerican, the First Amendment to the US Constitution protects the right to free speech. In making a knee down protest during the National Anthem, the act of protest actually confirms the belief contained within the First Amendment. The real irony here is that protesting and especially during the National Anthem, is possibly one of the most American things of all to do.
The thing being lost in all of this though, is that the medium has inadvertently become the message. It is perhaps convenient for Messrs Trump and Pence that disasters in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the shooting of 58 people in Las Vegas have stolen the available media oxygen from the knee down protests, because it means that while everyone is still staring in horror at something else, then they don't really need to address the continuing problem of police brutality against black people. It is also helpful in that same cause of not actually addressing the problem of even caring about the issue, that President Trump's​ own brand of nonsense and insanity is so unbelievably daft and shocking that people don't even need to think about the underlying issues relating to police brutality against black people.

What is absolutely certain is that Breitbart seemed to agree with Mr Pence's actions and that was very much like preaching to the choir. The problem is that the choir in question happens to be singing songs of racism and division, which only serves to prove the knee down protests to be completely and utterly justified and even noble. We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal? Not if you happen to be named Pence or Trump.

People tend to remember some very specific words from Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream" speech but there are parts of it which are even more relevant today; that have been whitewashed over:

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men - yes, black men as well as white men -would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this  promissory note insofar as her citizens of colour are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back
marked ''insufficient funds.'' 
- Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, 28th Aug 1963.

It really does not help when the President of the United States, who formally promised to uphold the Constitution before entering office, wants to write "cancelled" on that same cheque and his Vice President is not helping either.

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