Trump and systemic racism in America

Except for the pre-Columbian indigenous native Indians of North and Central America, all other races in America are immigrants. More than half of the 574 federally recognized tribes in the US are immigrants with Filipinos arriving California in 1587, Europeans in the east coast in 1619 while importation of Africans as slaves started in 1619. America as Pope Francis not too long-ago reminded Donald Trump, “is a nation of immigrants”. Trump’s parents like Biden’s grandparents were all immigrants. Systemic racism, American original sin, started with slavery, a model that reduced Africans shipped to the new world to marketable commodities.

The recent murder of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery as the nations of the world watched only but confirmed how deep-rooted systemic racism is in America despite the American civil war and the heroic efforts of the civil right movement. In case some people are still living in denial, Donald Trump’s harvest of 70 million Americans votes in last week election in spite of his refusal to condemn white supremacist his core base, his separation of 1,030 children in 2018 from their parents of whom only 485 have had their parents found, banning citizens of some Muslim nations of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen with his Executive Order 13769, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States in 2017, a list expanded on January 31 to include Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar, and Kyrgyzstan Sudan and Tanzania.

The huge support Trump secured from his base once again brought out the major weakness of democracy. Free and fair election, the hallmark of participatory democracy which often involve group bargaining sometimes throw up a nightmare. His last week defeat by Biden was however a big relief to America and her allies Trump traded for dictators. It is a new dawn in America with President-elect Biden pledging to end the Muslim ban on his first day in office, include Muslims at every level of his administration and address issues of racial and religious discrimination.

Trump message of hate resonates with his disgruntled, racist, Islamophobic, uneducated white workers. Ian Kershaw, a professor of modern history at Sheffield University, and the author of Hitler, the Germans and the Final Solution, writing for New York Times back in 2008, had warned about skillful politicians in the mode of Adolf Hitler proved adept at using democratic structures to erect forms of authoritarian rule. Kenshaw went on to advise on the need for international cooperation to restrain potential “mad dogs” in the world before they bite. The horrors of the Second World War foisted on the people through the follies of a mad man was probably the source of Kenshaw anguish. Hiding under nationalism, Hitler slaughtered about 11 million people including the six million Jews incinerated in a gas chamber. Trump’s last week defeat was something of a relief because there are just too many similarities between Hitler and Trump.

There is a frightening parallel between the social dislocations in Hitler’s 1929 Germany and Donald Trump’s 2007 and 2008 US economic crisis. And just as the great economic depression which followed Germany’s defeat in the First World War provided a fertile ground for Hitler to exploit the misery of his compatriots for political power, Trump capitalised on the marginalized Americans after the 2008 depression and exploited the political divisiveness within the Republican party following the loss of power to Barak Obama, a black man. The Trump battle cry became ‘we must take our country back’ and this resonates with his white supremacist base. Lying without shame and sounding like Hitler before the “Jew final solution”, he had declared ‘we have problem in this country. It is called Muslims; we know our current president is one, he is not an American…they have training camps where they want to kill us’; we want to take our country back’.

Like Hitler, Trump does not believe in political parties. But Just as Hitler used Nazism as springboard to take over power, Trump hijacked the Republican Party to secure the party’s presidential ticket. Just as Hitler didn’t believe the party needed to serve the people, Trump after using the party to achieve his aim, assaulted the core values and the soul of the Republican Party. Like Hitler, he humiliated the real leaders of GOP. And just like what Hitler did to his party’s leading members, in the face of open assault on Republican Party values, no elected member of his party in the Senate or Congress could confront him.

Hitler had a ‘barstadisation’ policy for children born in Germany but of non-German parents. He believed they were inferior to German children and cannot be given citizenship because citizenship was by blood of the Aryan race. Trump, like Hitler, is against the Fourteenth Amendment which confers citizenship on all children born in America. Trump wants all such children deported.

Both are against freedom of expression. If Trump like Hitler had his ways, the state should control the press and use it as instrument for propaganda. Both have no regard for the famous declaration of Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of American declaration of independence (1776) that “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter”.

Trump’s ‘I am the only one who can fix America’ is not markedly different from Hitler’s delusion that he was ordained to protect the Aryan race. Just as Hitler blamed the Jews for most of the problems and evils in Germany as well as the world, Trump blames China for unemployment, Muslim for terrorism while his right-wing supporters engage in periodic orgy of violence. Trump like Hitler engages in rabid nationalism bordering on fascism.

And finally, Trump and Hitler did not believe in democracy. For Hitler, ‘democracy will in practice lead to the destruction of a people’s true value’. His plan as reflected in his ‘Mein Kampf’ was to “destroy democracy with the weapons of democracy.” In other words, secure power through democracy and then become a dictator because for him, “one works best when alone.” –a rejection of participatory democracy.

For Trump, like Hitler, democracy is a means to an end. There can be no other more compelling argument than his current attempt to undermine the foundation of the democratic process by insisting in 2016 he would only accept the outcome of the coming election if he wins. A week after Trump was defeated round and square by Biden, he is yet to concede defeat.

Trump like Hitler is a danger not only to America but to the world. It was a poetic justice that his downfall was brought about by the African American community he hated with passion. Biden admitted this much in his victory speech last week.

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