Trump understands nothing

The Independent has the transcript and video of Trump’s miniature “speech” on Black History Month. The combination of ignorance, idiocy and narcissism is like a blow between the eyes.

Well, this is black history month, so this is our little breakfast, our little get-together. And just a few notes. During this month, we honour the tremendous history of the African-Americans throughout our country. Throughout the world, if you really think about it, right. And their story is one of unimaginable sacrifice, hard work, and faith in America.

Stop right there. No. That is exactly wrong. Their story is not one of “sacrifice.” Sacrifice entails agency and choice. If I hit you over the head and take all your stuff, that’s not you “sacrificing” for me, that’s me assaulting and robbing you. Their story is one of oppression and exploitation, of violence and enslavement, of kidnapping and torture and dehumanization. I could go on. Slavery is not about slaves sacrificing for the criminals who claim to “own” them, it’s about a long-term crime against humanity.

And the “hard work” was extorted from them by violence and torture. And shut the fuck up about “faith in America” when the majority of America’s history is the history of a slave state.

He could hardly have gotten it more insultingly wrong if he’d tried for a year.

Then he talked at much more length about himself and the statue of King.

Then he talked about himself some more. The end.

Then there’s a speech by Obama at the opening of the African American History Museum in September. It’s rather different. It will depress you if you read it, because of how different it is. Just one little extract…

What we can see of this building — the towering glass, the artistry of the metalwork — is surely a sight to behold.  But beyond the majesty of the building, what makes this occasion so special is the larger story it contains.  Below us, this building reaches down 70 feet, its roots spreading far wider and deeper than any tree on this Mall.  And on its lowest level, after you walk past remnants of a slave ship, after you reflect on the immortal declaration that “all men are created equal,” you can see a block of stone.  On top of this stone sits a historical marker, weathered by the ages.  That marker reads:  “General Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay spoke from this slave block…during the year 1830.”

I want you to think about this.  Consider what this artifact tells us about history, about how it’s told, and about what can be cast aside.  On a stone where day after day, for years, men and women were torn from their spouse or their child, shackled and bound, and bought and sold, and bid like cattle; on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet — for a long time, the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as “history” with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.

And that block I think explains why this museum is so necessary.  Because that same object, reframed, put in context, tells us so much more.  As Americans, we rightfully passed on the tales of the giants who built this country; who led armies into battle and waged seminal debates in the halls of Congress and the corridors of power.  But too often, we ignored or forgot the stories of millions upon millions of others, who built this nation just as surely, whose humble eloquence, whose calloused hands, whose steady drive helped to create cities, erect industries, build the arsenals of democracy.

It certainly depresses me.

H/t Kausik

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