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Trump as the epitome of white privilege

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In a recent discussion with governors of states regarding protests across America on the murder of George Floyd by a policeman, Trump upbraided them on their weak response and demanded that they “dominate” the situation. To this wannabe dictator, this is how he envisages the attitude of government towards his Black constituents and their White sympathisers who are mostly protesting peacefully and lawfully against police brutality and the systemic racism encountered by Black and Brown Americans. It is ironic coming from a president who has benefited from the huge privileges that White Americans have relative to Blacks and other ethnic minorities. He and his Family are notorious in taking advantage and even abusing those privileges, riding on them to enrich themselves and ultimately winning election and implementing policies to enhance those privileges.

The Trump family, immigrants from Germany and Scotland, undoubtedly worked hard to acquire their enormous wealth. However it should be noted that at the same time they were doing so, millions of African Americans who they met in the country faced enormous hurdles with regards to education, employment, business and political opportunities unlike Trump’sgrandfather and grandmother who could just walk off the boat and start their wealth accumulation. Trump himself was given a good head start, attending fancy schools that prepared him for education at a top university. Contrary to the fiction in books written about his life by ghost writers, he owed his start in business entirely to funds provided by his father.

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While making its fortune, the Trump family also engaged in some rather unsavoury actions, notably, engaging in discriminatory practices against Blacks who were prevented from renting Trump properties, culminating in federal penalties. Trump, who likes to endear himself to the military and lauds America’s military might dodged conscription into the army, on some spurious medical excuse when all men his age were being drafted to fight in Vietnam.

A New York Times report noted that Trump’s father transferred huge funds to Trump and his siblings on very questionable terms, evading significant state and federal taxes. This action by Trump’s father demolishes Trump’s mantra of a successful business entrepreneur – his wealth was inherited, not self-made. Much of Trump’s addition to that inheritance was though gaming the system, namely, partners, employees and the government. In a record number of bankruptcieshe avoided taxes and financial commitments to investors and had a reputation of underpaying or reneging on payment to staff and providers of services. He therefore augmented his White privilege by hook and crook.

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The Trump family saga has some dark aspects which explain Trump’s posture. His father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) which explains why the family engaged in discriminatory practices with their properties. In the 1980s Trump spearheaded a campaign against Black and Hispanic youths who were falsely accused of a crime – they were eventually exonerated and compensated for wrongful imprisonment. Trump started his presidential bid through “birtherism”, falsely claiming that President Obama was not born in the US which meant that Obama was an illegitimate president as only people born in the country can hold that position. As president he has embarked on erasing Obama’s political legacies and constantly attacks Obama, blaming him for all the “problems” that America faces. In addition to implementing policies that adversely affect Black and Brown people he has praised the activities of White supremacist, who he referred to as “fine people”.

Protesters who are currently going against systemic racism are referred to as “thugs” and he has evoked the phrase used by a notorious segregationist, “when the looting starts the shooting starts”. His latest action is to oppose the removal of statues of confederate soldiers and politicians and the removal of their names on federal military bases. Those politicians and soldiers had not only championed slavery of African Americans but as General Petraeus noted were traitors fighting against the legitimate American government and were not even good at their jobs. Trump’s White privileges are part of the great American story. White settlers took over the country, developing huge advantages over their Black and Brown compatriots financially and politically through conquests and displacement of Indians and then imported African slaves to build the American dream. They also imported cheap Asian labour to build the railways and other infrastructure. For much of America’s history these crucial minority segments of the population did not have full citizen rights, while at the same time the likes of the Trump family could come straight off the boat and start building their fortunes. Political and judicial monopoly and skulduggery have ensured this White dominance.

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The raison d’etre for Trump and many of his key supporters is “domination” of Black and Brown America. In Trump’s case it is in his DNA (inherited from his KKK father), his upbringing and for most of his adult life. He takes delight and is constantly reminding many of his supporters that this is what he stands for. The irony for him is that George Floyd, a very ordinary man is probably going to be largely responsible for his downfall as the majority of White Americans according to the polls, come to acknowledge the fact that Black and Brown Americans have been systematically short-changed in their pursuit of the American dream.

This is the icing on the cake that is made up of Trump’s gross incompetence that has wrought havoc on the country in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic depression, his dictatorial moves and civil strife. America made a huge mistake in electing a totally unqualified TV reality showman and it is coming out of its worst nightmare and the world will thank them for coming back to their senses and hope that the country never makes such a mistake again.

Trump who has behaved as a typical school bully has been called out after displaying all the traits of bullies. He avoided the draft, picked on the weakest strata of society, hid in the Whitehouse bunker, shielded himself (and the people’s house) with fortified fencing and used the military to rampage against and peaceful citizens to provide him with a photo opportunity. The American people it would appear from polls are finally getting wise to his antics, including a majority of White Americans and military (and retired military) brass, the only constituency that counts as far as Trump is concerned. Let us hope that this awakening lasts until election day and common sense and decency dominate the election.

Rogers is principal consultant at Media and Event Management Oxford (MEMO), United Kingdom.

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