Dysfunction in Washington: An Apprentice in the White House!


You knock on his door
And he kicks you from his Tower
You are not the right color
But you don’t care
You cook, clean, scrub, babysit,
Teach, and serve in uniforms
You stand tall, dream big
Break walls, and soar like an eagle
You too are America!

How about those other ‘S’ words? We can start with savage, slavery and supremacists. Each word tells a story of inhumanity and the burden of nations trying to rid themselves of an embarrassing past. When the Europeans invaded the new lands the native Indians were treated as savages. After years of maltreatment and near decimation of the savage another form of subjugation took its place. This was slavery.

America, the Caribbean, and other new colonies progressed on the blood, sweat and tears of the savage, the slave and indentured servants. They were the property of the ruling class and even after Emancipation the planters fought to retain some form of slavery. Race relations in the United States in the 1860’s were anything but cordial. It was the age of white supremacy.

In the South, the Ku Klux Klan was vociferous in its call for the purification of America. It used violence against Blacks and was also anti-immigrant. In the 1960’s the Klan stepped up its attacks on the Civil Rights movement. Bull Connor was the police commissioner of Birmingham in 1961. It is reported that when the Freedom Riders arrived in Birmingham Connor gave the Klan fifteen minutes to attack the riders before he took action to stop the violence.

The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that there are currently hundreds of chapters of the Klan in the US. One of the more prominent names is Grand Wizard David Duke who has supported white nationalism. Candidate Donald Trump was asked repeatedly about the endorsement of Duke during the campaign. Trump hedged before ‘disavowing’ Duke but the latter stated repeatedly that he supported Trump as a ‘strategic action.’

Long before his vulgar comments about Haiti, Africa and El Salvador Trump was accused of being a racist. Is he a racist? Let us examine the evidence. In a campaign meeting in California Trump boasted about his tremendous African-American support and pointed to a single Black supporter in a disparaging way.

When two brothers were arrested in Boston for beating up a homeless man they invoked the name of Trump and said that all illegals need to be deported. Trump responded by saying that the brothers loved America and simply got carried away. It is well known that Trump gave preferential treatment to whites in the rental of his apartments.

The New York Times reports that Trump treated his black employees at his casinos differently from whites. He is reported to have said, ‘Black guys counting my money! I hate it. I think the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks.’ Does one need more proof of his racism?

But there are other examples: Trump started his presidential campaign by branding Mexican immigrants as ‘criminals and rapists.’ As President, he called for a total ‘and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’ and in June 2017 Trump said that Haitian immigrants have AIDS. He then turned his attention to Nigeria and said that once they see the United States they would never ‘go back to their huts.’

The white supremacists that were in Charlottesville were described as ‘very fine people.’
President Trump would do well to read up on the history of Haiti. This country was once the Pearl of the Antilles, was occupied by America and slapped with great financial burdens. But Haiti is resilient; its peoples are hardworking and the country will rise again.

Trump would also do well to research the inventions of Dr. Philip Emeagwali who is from Nigeria and who has invented one of the world’s fastest computers.

Why would Norwegians want to move to the United States? They are constantly topping the happiness index and come close to being one of the most stable societies in Europe.
In addition, Norway has a generous social package that includes free health care, flexible hours of work, free higher education, five weeks of paid vacation and excellent pensions and child care facilities. Who would leave these and migrate to the United States to start anew?

President Trump’s call for more Norwegians to enter the US, as opposed to those from black and brown countries, is racist. If he took he time to read the inscription on the Statue of Liberty Trump would find that America was founded on welcoming the poor and ‘huddled masses’ of the world. Trump ignores the vitality of the immigrant population.

The beginning of 2018 saw chaos in Washington and there is no sign that things will get any better. We have a situation in which President Trump makes a statement and the White House is caught off-guard and has to play catch-up. The year began with the bombshell revelations by Michael Wolff that Trump is unfit to be President and that his son’s behavior could be ‘treasonous.’

Senator John McCain wrote an impressive Op-Ed in the Washington Post in August 2017. He pointed out that Congress has to deal with a president that has no experience in public office. In addition, the chief executive is often poorly informed and has the tendency to be impulsive.

The Senator warned, ‘We must respect his authority and constitutional responsibilities. We must, where we can, cooperate with him. But we are not his subordinates. We don’t answer to him. We answer to the American people. We must be diligent in discharging our responsibility to serve as a check on his power. And we should value our identity as members of Congress more than our partisan affiliation.’

This is sound advice and one hopes that Speaker Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the rank and file in the Republican Party took notice. The latest utterances by President Trump would test the mettle of any politician, especially if he or she is a Republican. How could anyone justify Trump’s vulgar descriptions of Haiti, Africa and El Salvador?

The answer is that Republicans in the room are scrambling to change their stories to protect Trump. But the public is not buying it. The only person with any credibility is the Democratic Senator Dick Durbin who has stuck to his story. The DACA debate has shown that Wednesday’s Trump is different from Thursday’s Trump. This is no way to run a country or to cater to a base of 35 percent.

Washington has seldom seen such dysfunction. We are in for a long and bumpy ride with an apprentice in the White House.


The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the THE WEST INDIAN.