Once again, America finds itself stagnating in the muck of racism and intolerance. The reanimated voices of white supremacy chanting from city squares downtown, the finger-pointing on “both sides” whenever the evening news declares an unarmed black man was shot and killed by police, and the disorganized activism of Black Lives Matter, among others, all have echoes to the past. At this rate, the fracture that runs down the backbone of our nation threatens to break asunder.
It is usually at the onset of that threat that we are delivered by the commanding discourse of a great leader. Donald Trump continues to betray the standard set forth by his predecessors in times of social malevolence. His handling this week of the bacchanal in Charlottesville bears witness to this shortcoming. His wavering back and forth on the issues (concerning the clashes) is the reason social conservatism is constantly bogged down by the trappings of bigotry.
Instead of disavowing hatred outright, he has, instead, attempted to justify it. I don’t think our president is a racist; I think, perhaps he is just a bit out of touch with the common man. The common man being a representative of all races and backgrounds, he is especially out of touch with the part making up the sensitivities of African-Americans.
“It’s going to be very difficult for this president to lead if, in fact, his moral authority remains compromised,” the U.S. Senate’s only black Republican said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.
With many of Trump’s Republican colleagues already distancing themselves from his vitriolic banter, Senator Scott suggested that the president meet with U.S. Representative John Lewis and other civil rights leaders.
“What the president should do before he says something, is to sit down, and become better acquainted, have a personal connection to the painful history of racism and bigotry of this country. It would be fantastic if he sat down with a group of folks who endured the pain of the ’60s, the humiliation of the ’50s and the ’60s,” Scott said.
There isn’t much to be gained from a sit-down, such as the one suggested by the senator. Anyone who lives in America only needs to wait until February to familiarize themselves with all things black. Along with a few answers to some Jeopardy questions, the injustices of the past are usually covered extensively within those 28 or 29 days.
What our president needs is a lesson in tact, and a bit for his mouth. He needs to be more presidential in his stance, speech, and appearance. For this, he only needs to look to past presidents as a benchmark for his success, especially in dealing with issues of race. Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson (just to name a few) all sat in the Oval Office during times of racial conflict. They never poured fuel onto the fire with vitriolic quips, aimed at further dividing the country. They refrained from words of rebuke, and instead offered words of comfort and hope.
The path we all fear may be unfolding before our very eyes. It’s moments like this that the people need a strong sound president more than ever. It’s not too late, Mr. President, you can win the American people over, and bring them all to your side. The late George Wallace, as governor of Alabama, was most reprehensible during his fight against integration at the apex of the civil rights movement. He called for “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” and even attempted to take on the National Guard at the “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.” He later apologized and attempted to right his wrongs.
There is no need for you to apologize, at least not yet, but I would like to suggest you look to the presidency of Harry Truman, with whom you share much in common. Like you, he wasn’t expected to win the presidency, he mocked the press and surrounded himself with old friends barely qualified to govern anything. Still, he soldiered on. He knew that America would only be successful if every American had a hand in it, so he desegregated the armed forces and ended the war. It is high time we ended the war at home, Mr. President, and I believe the American people are looking to you for guidance.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]