Opinion Trump is incapable of telling America's story of racial redemption

23:02  18 september  2020
23:02  18 september  2020 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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President Trump’s clumsy Thursday speech, given inappropriately at the shrine to thoughtful patriotism that is the National Archives, missed making a timely and useful point.

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The president gave a demagogic screed criticizing the New York Times’s 1619 Project. But the problem with left-wing revisionist American history is not that it discusses slavery. It’s that it insufficiently emphasizes that the expressed, yet unfulfilled, ideals of the Declaration of Independence and America’s Judeo-Christian principles inspired the Union’s massive Civil War sacrifices to free the slaves — and the heroic civil rights movement for a century after.

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The too-slow rejections of slavery and Jim Crow are hard and painful, but good and hopeful stories of growth, with seeds planted in the best parts of our founding and in the Bible. That’s what the extreme Left and now also the Right both underplay, the redemptive grace operating within the story, and why a holistic version of American history is needed — and true.

Trump’s speech made a brief off-hand gesture in this direction, but it’s a key point of the whole plot. Trying to tell America’s story without full reference to slavery and segregation is like trying to explain Easter without Good Friday: The suffering, resurrection, and hope are inextricable.

Arsonists and looters, iconoclasts and vandals, and rioters of any stripe deserve the condemnation of all. Individual lawmen are as subject to fair criticism as anyone, while the 99% of good police officers deserve society’s prayers and support as matters of both moral justice and practical survival. Black citizens ought to, but too often do not yet, feel safer when a policeman is present.

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Shame on politicians of either party who will not speak such plain and simple truths. But Trump is a poor spokesman for these verities. Contrary to his carnival-barker assertions of patriotism in Thursday’s speech, Trump often morally equates the United States with Putin’s Russia; nobody runs down our country quite like he does. Far from supporting law and order, Trump is often the subject of predicated criminal investigations. He repeatedly attacks lawmen, calling for their imprisonment, while maligning judges and suggesting that whistleblower witnesses should be treated like treasonous spies (with the death penalty, if you couldn't read between the lines).

Rarely has any man in public office been less fit for the obvious and important task of the moment (bringing our wounded country together to face shared challenges) than our current president. He seems handicapped by an emotional inability to care about anyone or anything bigger than himself and his psychological needs in the moment.

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Of course, all of this takes place in a larger context. Republicans, from the conservative to the progressive variety, have always had a complex historical relationship with both race and immigration. The Grand Old Party began with many of its members schizophrenically and simultaneously embracing both high-minded abolitionism regarding slavery and “Know Nothing”-ism seeking to keep Catholic immigrants down economically, politically, and socially.

Theodore Roosevelt often railed against so-called “hyphenated Americans.” But Roosevelt, an old Knickerbocker, also admired the mostly Irish policemen he led as the New York Police Department's commissioner; he later led some of them as Rough Rider volunteers at San Juan Hill in Cuba. I suspect that what Roosevelt wanted, even as he imperfectly expressed it, was assimilation and, ultimately, just patriotism.

By the 1960s, the GOP still campaigned against ethnic urban Democratic political machines while also providing more votes in Congress, proportionately, than Democrats did for civil rights legislation. GOP presidents such as Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush were accused of racial pandering in their campaigns while also consistently and even bravely supporting civil rights measures as legislators and presidents.

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Meanwhile, Republican leaders such as Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and John McCain were full-throated in their embrace of both immigrants at home and also an assertive and positive, even transformational, leadership role for America abroad. And then came Trump.

Trump gleefully demonizes minorities and immigrants, perhaps not because he actually hates or fears them, but worse, because he thinks it will win him votes.

But people in the U.S. of all ethnicities, races, and religions demonstrate every single day that love of country Roosevelt practiced and preached. They do so concretely — and especially in the crises of the past 20 years.

They did so as lifesaving first responders on Sept. 11, 2001. Then, they fought in the wars overseas: A Marine regimental commander I served alongside in the Iraqi province of Anbar observed that about a quarter of the youngsters he saluted in ramp ceremonies as “angel flights” brought them home from Iraq to brokenhearted families were minorities. And they do so most recently by performing corporal and spiritual acts of mercy among the suffering in ambulances and in packed hospital wards during the pandemic.

Poignantly, those whose ancestors were cruelly treated the worst by our government sometimes now give back the most. They love America even when she has not always loved them or their families right back. In contrast to this daily lived reality on the front lines, what Trump cynically seeks in his speech, at least publicly for his own purposes during his reelection, is a false nostalgia of racial purity. There could be nothing more ahistorical — or fundamentally less American.

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As Ernest Hemingway wrote, "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places." Those who cherish this country the most know and embrace America’s long backstory — and love her all the more for it.

Kevin Carroll served as senior counselor to the secretary of homeland security (2017-18) and the chairman of the House homeland security committee (2011-13), as well as an Army and CIA officer. Kevin is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog.

Tags: Opinion, Beltway Confidential, Blog Contributors, Donald Trump, History, New York Times, Race and Diversity, Immigration, 2020 Elections, Racism

Original Author: Kevin Carroll

Original Location: Trump is incapable of telling America's story of racial redemption

Between the economy and pandemic, Biden keeps his advantage nationally: POLL .
He retains a 10-point national lead in a head-to-head match up with Trump. Biden's 54%-44% advantage over Trump in a two-way contest precisely matches the last national ABC/Post poll in mid-August. Biden's support slips to 49% when the Libertarian and Green Party candidates are included, versus 43% for Trump.

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This is interesting!