Unless I completely miss my guess, President Donald J. Trump will commemorate the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 15 by insulting Dr. King. That’s his style. That’s precisely what these reborn Confederates, dyed-in-the-wool Republicans, have always stood for: racial hatred and immense cruelty toward Black people by White people.
So, The Donald will manage to say something ugly and disgusting. He has no boundaries when it comes to insulting Blacks and Muslims. He, who evaded military service himself, insulted Khizir Khan, the father of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, killed in the Iraq war during the 2016 campaign. Just a couple of months ago he feuded with a grieving widow whose husband was killed in action in Niger, West Africa. He is frequently required to contact grieving loved ones, but he’s never insulted the families of White fallen soldiers the way he’s singled out Blacks and Muslims.
It’s what these guys who are trying to restore the Confederacy have always done. President Ronald Reagan, who very reluctantly signed the veto-proof legislation establishing the King holiday, launched his 1980 presidential campaign in of all places, Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where three civil rights workers were kidnapped and murdered.
What message was Reagan trying to send? What force was it that bent his will, forcing him to sign the King holiday bill? His message was, and among the alt-right, Tea Party factions today remains: this place is a province intended exclusively for the comfort of Caucasians. What persuaded Congress was the swelling will of the people insisting on racial justice.
South Africa was on fire. The U.S. supported the white-minority rulers there, and in the event of military conflict needed to be able to count on racial loyalty from Black troops serving then in the U.S. military.
The climate is entirely different in the 21st century. All over the country, white folks are declaring the country is not “white enough” for them, and they want a society with more racial privileges for whites, more humiliation for the darker, “lesser species.” Someone is reading this, nodding: “That sounds about right.”
Incidentally, Donald Trump’s lack of fitness for office is alarming. But his ascent has empowered a new generation of race-hating politicians, from Roy Moore in Alabama, to Joe Arpaio in Arizona. Trump “drained the swamp” alright. Now he’s restocked it with even more worrisome predators. Behold, a new “Trump Generation.”
They are surrounded by dozens of sharp-minded young and old race-haters. Some, fresh out of universities where their fraternities and sororities routinely mocked and humiliated black folks. There are hundreds, even thousands more with similarly alarming views staffing the offices of hundreds of right-wing Congress members and senators, all desirous of America the way it was before folks like Martin Luther King Jr. and those before him started demanding rights, equality and complicated stuff like that.
Realize that in today’s climate, a King holiday bill could never pass. Trump wouldn’t even get the glory of vetoing it, which he surely would. Don’t forget, this is the guy who paid for full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty for five innocent New York teenagers who were falsely accused of a Central Park rape and murder. Even after they were fully exonerated, Trump never apologized. He’ll never back down to black folks.
This cannot prevail. Dr. King advised us that the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” I believe he’s correct. I believe the arc bends towards the uplifting of black people in America, not their humiliation.
I believe people and nations reap what they sow, and the Trumps and the Pences, the Ryans and the McConnells of Washington leadership will all get what’s coming to them. But for the near future, I think it will get worse before it gets better. Trump will try to score points by trash-talking Dr. King.