What Trump and Toxic Cops Have in Common

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tags: racism, Police, Donald Trump

In his first Inaugural Address, and hopefully his last, Donald Trump talked about American carnage. He got it this week. What we couldn’t have known in January 2017 is that he wasn’t here to save us from this carnage, but to perpetuate it; that incitement wasn’t just a feature of his campaign, but of his governance. When historians look back at the Trump era, they may very well say his presidency was encapsulated by this moment, when a sadistic cop knelt on the neck of an African-American man for almost nine minutes in plain view and the streets exploded in rage.

Derek Chauvin was by no means the first cop to gratuitously brutalize and lynch an African-American. But he embodied something essential about Trumpism: It’s us versus them. That’s the poison ethos at the heart of police brutality, and it’s the septic core of our 45th president’s philosophy. Neither a toxic cop nor Donald Trump sees himself as a servant of all the people they’ve sworn to protect. They are solely servants of their own. Everyone else is the enemy.

From the beginning, the police have received a lot of perverse messages from Trump, encouraging them to embrace the bitter angels of their nature. Three summers ago, he gave a speech on Long Island, disparaging officers who cradled the heads of suspects as they tucked them into their squad cars: “You can take the hand away, OK?” (A bank of police officers, seated behind him, started to laugh and cheer.)

One of Trump’s most revealing tweets since the rioting began was a boast about the prowess of the Secret Service — and to threaten to sic “the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” on the crowds outside the White House if things intensified. He’s Bull Connor with a comb-over. Or Walter E. Headley, Miami’s former police chief, who in 1967 said, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a phrase that reappeared in a Trump tweet on Friday.

And this is the point, is it not? Trump, who made his political bones by peddling apocrypha about our first African-American president’s country of origin, thrives on racial divisions. Us-them. Conflict zones are his comfort zone, perfect for firing up his base.

Read entire article at The New York Times

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