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Guest MINDSETTER™ Jim Wright: Donald Trump Killed Heather Heyer

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Donald Trump. Photo: GoLocalProv

Extremism and fringe groups are the obvious by-products of a pluralistic society.  I agree with the President on one thing. This is an age old problem. What I don't agree with is where to place blame.

We were all taught as school children about our fore-fathers and their enduring wisdom. Casting off the yoke of a tyrannical monarch. Setting about the task of creating a more perfect union with inalienable rights for its citizenry. Freedom of speech and the press...all men created equal...freedom of religious expression, democratically elected leaders, a gun in every night-stand.

The founders and framers laid out a set of ideas and against all odds, freedom, and liberty prevailed (for most of us, anyway). King George swiftly learned that a free and prideful army could defeat any adversary. Soon, America stood alone as the envy of all Nations. Well, maybe not all, but quite a few of them...anyway, the experiment worked. 

By the way, if you're unfamiliar with the track record, that was by no means a sure bet. Several examples of failed democracies include Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan. Our system of checks and balances, peaceful and orderly succession of leadership, and separation of powers is far more fragile than most would like to admit. 

From Founding to Now

Fast forward to the 21st Century, and the United States is on a roll. The great experiment works. Forty-five men have ascended peacefully to assume the role of President of the United States. A simple glance at an internet feed or the occasional, albeit endangered, newsstand reveals the success of our Constitution.

I take solace in the knowledge that the The Weekly World News can proclaim that "Dick Cheney is a robot" and "Barack Obama and Saddam Hussein sired a love child." Presumably prior to Hussein's hanging... anyway... I say bring it on. The fact that these bozos can print whatever they want is the only reason I'm assured that the Washington Post can print whatever they want. The Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments have been through their fair share of weather, but remain, for the most part, unmolested. 

Now, over the years, America has had its share of bumps and bruises. The Civil War was a hiccup, and the subsequent abolition of slavery generated some lively debate. Prohibition had its share of challenges. Then there was World Wars I and II... oh, the time those pesky Russians dropped off some ICBM's at the Tropicana. Let's see...the Civil Rights movement, Joe McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, Dick Nixon, Vietnam, the Cold War, Bill Clinton's libido, that counting problem in Florida... like I said, a few problems. Then there was the time we tried to play God in the Middle East for a few decades and anointed a bunch of regimes that are now bent on our total annihilation. But, hey, we're young. Everyone makes mistakes, right??

Through all of this static and discord, we have always remained America. We disagreed, we fought, we opposed each other's beliefs, but we were all Americans. The idea of America always remained illuminated. The lessons the founders taught us through their words and sacrifices echoed in our ears. Many of them gave what Lincoln referred to as the "last full measure of devotion" in service and defense of our more perfect Union. Across the years, many countless friends, neighbors, brothers, sisters, Fathers, and Mothers have offered that same sacrifice of life, limb, and spirit without hesitation to protect our democracy and our way of life. 

Just as I have always respected and admired those who would give their lives for my freedom and way of life, I also have always applauded those who answer the call to public service. From civil servants to elected officials, these men and women work tirelessly, often at a fraction of what their set of skills would command in the private sector. I understand that power has the ability to corrupt and that some would use their influence for personal gain or deception. But, I maintain that in most instances, our representatives at the highest levels of government, have recognized their unique ability to lead and have set about the task of improving life for their constituents and, moreover, the United States of America.

Who's to Blame?

Steve Bannon

Even a cursory look around the landscape of America, however, reveals a glaring problem. Last November's election gave us our first glimpse of the specter. Apparently, representing the lesser of two evils, Donald Trump was elevated to the Presidency of the United States.

His seemingly endless road show of backwards, racist, misogynistic, bigoted bullshit had unveiled countless supporters and helped the slumlord turned TV show personality blaze a path to victory. 

I won't go into the multitude of issues I have with President Trump. Having gone through my phases, as well as some increased medication dosages, I have made my peace with him. That being said, I feel it necessary to assign the blame of this past weekend's tragic events. 

Donald Trump killed Heather Heyer.

Too strong? Well, follow me on this. Donald Trump's campaign was predicated on hate. "Make America GREAT Again," "I'm gonna build a wall," "I'll look Syrian children in the face and say they can't come"... every syllable this guy churns out on Twitter serves as a rallying cry for hate groups and lone wolves. These people have always been there. Their doctrine of hatred and intolerance wasn't taught to them by Donald Trump. But, they can read the tea leaves. They can spot one of their own. How? 

Besides his own morally reprehensible library of comments, let's look at his buddies that now infest the West Wing. Jeff Sessions once commented that the only reason he hadn’t joined the Ku Klux Klan was because members of the extremist group smoked marijuana. In 1986, MLK's widow Coretta Scott King wrote a letter against Jeff Session's ascension to the Federal bench saying, “Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote in the cover page of her nine-page letter opposing Sessions' nomination, which failed. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”

Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, and senior counselor, was executive chairman of Breitbart, a news site that Bannon dubbed the “home of the alt-right” ― a euphemism that describes a loose coalition of white supremacists and aligned groups. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart increased its accommodation of openly racist and anti-Semitic writing, capitalizing on the rise of white nationalism prompted by Trump’s campaign.

Oh, let's not forget Steve Mnuchin, who Trump tapped to serve as Treasury secretary, who faces allegations of profiting from racial discrimination. As a hedge fund manager, Mnuchin purchased a troubled mortgage bank, sped up its foreclosure rate and sold it for a killing several years later. Along the way, Mnuchin’s bank came under fire from housing rights groups for racist practices like lending to very few people of color and maintaining foreclosed-upon properties in neighborhoods that were predominantly black and brown less than in white neighborhoods.

U.S. at Precarious Point

My point? Donald Trump has indeed delivered on his campaign pledge to build a wall. Unfortunately, that wall is not between the US and Mexico, but rather, between his constituents and everyone else. Now, up until this past weekend, I was concerned, but not to the point of hopelessness. After all, social media battles rarely claim casualties, and I welcomed the opportunities for banter and discourse the endless debates afforded me. I also could count on any criticism of Trump or his policies to trip at least 10 friends from my list making room for new compatriots. 

All kidding aside, I am mortified that we have arrived at this point. The nations of the world that once praised us now openly laugh at us and this damaged vessel we have set adrift to randomly impact the structures of diplomacy and friendship we have carefully erected across the years. His ham-handed rhetoric gleaned from a lifetime of privilege, bigotry, smugness, and narcissism has divided a Nation and placed us at the brink of conflict with not only North Korea, but China and its allies. 

Every appointment Trump makes of an unqualified, racist sycophant adds a brick to this wall. Each veiled racist tweet about "bad hombres" and "undesirables" adds more substance to this wall. These bullies recognize one of their own in the Oval Office and it empowers them. It feeds and drives them. It lets them know it's ok to step out of the shadows. It's ok to spread their hatred and bigotry without hoods. 

Forget about Isis and Al Queda. This is the real American battlefield. Either wittingly or unwittingly, Trump rang the dinner bell, and the brotherhood sat down for a meal in Charlottesville. 

What's next?  

Jim Wright is the National Director of Catch a Rising Star Comedy Clubs. He lives in Providence.


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