I’ve heard recently when I’ve said I’m not a Trump fan, “Just don’t pay attention to his tweets.” “Yeah, he talks too much.” “I don’t like his personality. I will vote for him because of his policies.”
I get it until I don’t. Here are just a few examples of why Trump’s words DO matter and often his words lead to his actions, actions of his administration, or actions of his supporters.
Let’s Talk Coronavirus First
Trump downplayed the Coronavirus, while talking often about how bad the flu was.
Trump said on February 26th that the “The flu, in our country, kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year. That was shocking to me. And, so far, if you look at what we have with the 15 people and their recovery, one is — one is pretty sick but hopefully will recover, but the others are in great shape. But think of that: 25,000 to 69,000.” while saying privately on February 7th to Bob Woodward that “I think he is going to have it in good shape. But it’s a very tricky situation. It goes through air, Bob,” he said. “It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”
Trump rallies defy local orders by not requiring masks and not adhering to social distancing.
Trump occasionally recommends masks, but never requires them or even followed local guidelines for masks at his rallies. When I hear someone say, “Trump tells people to wear masks”, I think of the action that follows from his supporters. Telling people to wear masks can only go so far when Trump’s rallies are full of people not wearing masks or social distancing. One Trump supporter quoted in this article said how great it would be if Trump gave everyone Make America Great again masks. I’ve been saying this for months! He could have branded masks, raised money for his campaign, and saved lives especially of his own supporters with MAGA masks.
At a recent event in Nevada, Trump broke the rules for an indoor rally. “Breaching state coronavirus rules that ban indoor gatherings of more than 50 people, President Donald Trump held a packed indoor rally near Las Vegas on Sunday. Most of the president’s supporters, according to reports and pictures of the event, attended the rally inside a warehouse in Henderson without wearing masks and did not practice social distancing.
But there was an exception. According to the Associated Press, those standing directly behind the president — who were therefore likely to appear in TV news footage — were required to wear face coverings.”
So, Trump knew he was okay, but was not concerned about having supporters right next to each other not wearing masks. He is not even concerned for the people most likely to vote for him.
Trump’s own Supporters have Died
Some people even went out without a mask or social distancing, based on the president’s own words. Here’s one such story. And another. I know people are responsible for their own actions, but shouldn’t their actions be based on the truth by our president? Doesn’t he bare some responsibility when he downplayed the virus, people believed him, and they then died.
I’ve heard Trump was trying not to cause panic. I’ll get into causing panic later (which he actually loves to do!). For now, isn’t there a middle ground between causing panic and lying to people by saying it was no worse than the flu? Couldn’t he have said something like, “We the American people are stronger than this virus. We will come together as a nation. Wear a mask for your fellow citizen. Do your part so we can save lives, save jobs, and get back to work. Let’s Make America Great Again!” As he’s saying those words, he could have ensured there was enough PPE for front-line workers and masks for every day citizens using government and private companies.
Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions
Trump has repeatedly claimed he will save the coverage of pre-existing conditions. These are his words.
TRUMP: “Over the next two weeks, I’ll be pursuing a major executive order requiring health insurance companies to cover all preexisting conditions for all customers. That’s a big thing. I’ve always been very strongly in favor. … This has never been done before.”
While Trump uses these words, Obamacare which is currently the law of the land actually already protects pre-existing conditions. Meanwhile, the Trump administration put in a filing with the Supreme Court claiming that the Affordable Care Act is illegal. Hence, his words say he’s protecting pre-existing conditions, while he’s trying to do away with the very law protecting them.
Police Shootings, Antifa and More
A little Background on the White Power Movement
Antifa is a low-grade threat. Let me repeat, Antifa is a low-grade threat. I’ve started listening to The Bulwark Podcast and I highly recommend it. Last week, host Charlie Sykes invited Elizabeth Neumann to discuss her work in Trump’s Department of Homeland Security and why she left DHS.
In the episode, Elizabeth, former assistant secretary for Threat Prevention, talks about the threat of White Power movement. She mentions learning a lot from Kathleen Belew, author of Bring the War Home.
Elizabeth learns through this book how the White Power movement finds it easier to not have a leader, to avoid detection. In 1983, the neo-nazis, the Klan, came together to change their strategy. “Their goal was the overthrow of the government … through this leaderless resistance approach.”
The movement is using many concerns conservatives have like gun rights and immigration. The movement uses the fear of immigrants taking your jobs or the government taking your guns to recruit people for the movement. Elizabeth Neumann worries about people being preyed upon based on their fears.
There are others who are not as hardcore who may not go to White Power rallies, but will hold the ideas on the inside while not supporting the movement in public.
Words or Lack of Words on White Supremacy
Now that you have the tiniest background, here are some of ways Trump’s lack of words on White Supremacy have come into play.
In 2019, USA Today published an arcile citing words like invasion and killer while discussing immigration at his rallies.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a history professor quoted in the USA Today article, said, “The use of repetition – a propaganda mainstay – points to an intention by Trump to impose a way of thinking about his designated targets.”
Here’s one quote from Trump in Charleston, West Virginia in 2019.
“ICE is tracking down gang members, drug dealers, predators and killers, and we’re either throwing them in jail or throwing them the hell out of our country.”
Words coming from the top in Trump carry a lot more weight than words from common citizens. Donald Trump has yet to condemn white supremacy. He even went further than this.
Remember how Trump has said he does not like to cause panic? Yelling about aliens, killers, predators, is meant to cause people to panic. Yelling Antifa and the crazy far left is meant for people to panic.
Refusing to Condemn White Supremacy
Kirstjen Neilson, former secretary of Homeland Security, asked in December 2017 to address white supremacy after seeing this as a growing threat in the US. After the Pittsburgh attack on the Tree of Life Synogogue addressing white supremacy as a national threat seemed even more important. The administration did not want to talk about the El Paso shooter or the attack on the Tree of Life Synogogue as domestic terrorism. Instead, the administration decided to call it violence prevention.
Through these shootings and others, Trump had an opportunity to call out extremism for what it is, domestic terrorism. Now, though, in 2020, Trump is calling out domestic terrorism. Instead of using this term to call out white power groups, he’s calling Antifa the domestic terrorist group.
Antifa is a low-grade threat. Antifa can be handled most often by local and state police. Antifa is not the growing movement that concerns most experts. Far-right extremism and white power movements are the main concern of domestic terrorism. Boogaloo is one such group.
There are growing threats and a growing movement of Far-Right extremists that need more attention from the top. I’ll use Boogaloo as an example. The Boogaloo, a far-right group with a heavy emphasis on the Second Amendment, bind together around an anti-authority and anti-law stance. The Boogaloo is most recently in the news from a shooting in California where two cops were shot.
Some Boogaloo supporters are white nationalists and neo-Nazis, but the larger movement bands together because of their anti-authoriy and law ideals.
Why won’t Donald Trump call out white supremacy? Why won’t Donald Trump call out White Nationalism? Why won’t Donald Trump call out far-right extremism?
What are the ways you’ve found that Trump’s words do matter? How have you found that Trump’s words lead to action?
I’ve been blogging for a few years about children’s books and mom life, but have been thinking of politics all the time. I’ll dip my toe into politics now and then when I can find the brain power and the time.
Antifa, White Supremacy, and Elizabeth Neumann