Updated: May 20
True, the deaths of over 100,000 persons offers us a good picture of Trump’s America, especially when we know that thousands could have been saved if he had been doing his job. The picture of the white police officer pushing his knee on George Floyd’s neck, however, gets to the heart of the matter. Can you hear “Let’s make America white again” churning in this white man’s head?
Trump didn’t create white supremacy, or even white hatred of blacks. Instead of banishing white hatred from the public realm, however, Trump encourages it. His hatred toward Barack Obama is not so much the tip of the iceberg as the bottom of a volcano that spews hot lava. He didn’t create the volcano; he fires it up.
So, what can we do? I am a white male, and I live with white privileges, but I and many other white men, could not and will not put our knee on a black man’s neck. There are white men who could. More than one might think. Civilian Review Boards and other citizen groups must get these men out of public service.
My guess is that if you asked the members of any police department to identify those who are blatantly racist, you would know who should be removed from public office. Police officers probably already know who these men are. We may not be able to eradicate white racism from our communities, but we certainly can from public service and the civic sphere.
Some cities have had extensive anti-racism programs but removing racist officers has not been as widespread as it could have been. Sometimes, police unions have made it impossible. In such situations, civilian review boards should first turn their attention to the members of police unions. In some cases, civilian review boards must also be reformed.
Cleaning out the white racists in our police departments could change the social context or climate of injustice in which we live, since it would demonstrate the use of ethical standards in the public realm.
Trump’s America exudes a climate of injustice that has no limits. He has encouraged a new generation of white male haters that will be difficult to contain. We may not be able to change their hearts, but we can exclude them from our public institutions. One of the basic rights of civilians is the right of protection. That’s protection by the police, not from the police!
One might think that the Republican party would have excluded Trump from becoming their candidate in 2016. That could be a reasonable expectation if this private organization had any ethical standards to evaluate people who wanted to join their party. So, we have a white racist in the White House, and it’s our task to remove him in the next election.
We have to take America away from Trump. We will not do this by calling for a return to some previous America. We have always been a racist nation: sometimes more and sometimes less. We have to repair the past, not repeat it. None of this is possible, however, unless we work first on voter registration and then on winning the election.