Two nights ago, DJT addressed a Joint Session of Congress. I didn’t watch it simply because I wasn’t interested in giving him the viewers or the ratings. I was also doing something much more soul filling, which I will tell you about tomorrow. But I did read it. And apparently, he actually managed to stand there for an hour and limit his offensiveness to an almost reasonable level. He managed to pitch unity and somehow garner praise, all while vaguely representing a cache of policies that are, by all accounts, still pretty horrifying. As a good friend of mine said, “the only thing scarier than when a dictator tells you a plan is when he hides it.” I believe that’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s taking the same vile hatred, wrapping it with a bow, and sliding it back to the American people in hopes that they won’t notice. He is and always has been a liar and a con-man. That has not changed just because his tone seemed to.
I don’t care what any of his disillusioned followers are deciding to believe these days; I have learned that the majority of them are plainly unreachable. However, what deeply concerns me is how much praise we, as a whole, heaped on the President of the United States for behaving ‘almost’ presidentially.
That’s the thing about this: it really was just “almost.” Yes, the man stood in front of the teleprompter and read words off of it without veering too far off script. Yes, he avoided making wildly offensive statements that would become soundbites for weeks to come. But don’t be fooled. He is trying to fool you. He is counting on fooling you just like he fooled his voter base. Don’t let him do it.
Here’s what we should be paying attention to: Trump brought with him “three relatives of Americans who the authorities said were killed by immigrants living in the United States illegally.” Why did he do this? Manipulation. Fear-mongering. Nationalism.
The facts and the reality do not match his message (which was that undocumented immigrants are inherently dangerous and thus, it is completely reasonable to kick all of them out of the country). The facts instead say that the kind of crime Trump was talking about, violent crime committed by immigrants, is actually pretty rare. According to this article, you are 6 times more likely to be attacked by a shark. You are 29 times more likely to be hit by an asteroid. You are 260 times more likely to be hit by lightning. And you are 6.9 million times more likely to die of cancer or heart disease. So again: Trump and his team used the same play they have been using all along. They manipulated the American people using trumped up anecdotal “evidence.” They did this to design a narrative that makes way for their agenda. And so many fell for it.
I would also like to point out the difference in the way he handled a fallen soldier and his family. The wife of a Navy Seal killed in Yemen was moved to tears as Trump acknowledged the bravery of her husband. This blonde haired, tearful woman has become the “face of bravery” of this nation. Frankly, I would agree: she is the face of bravery… her and every other gold-star family in this nation are worthy of our respect and gratitude. But that’s not the point. It’s not my point and I’m not even sure it was his. So, never mind that. And never mind that this Seal’s father refused to even meet with Trump because he was so disgusted by his negligence in choosing to go through with the raid. Never mind that Trump went through with the raid without sufficient intelligence or ground support. Never mind that Trump blamed the military for the raid’s failure. What I want to focus on is how differently he treated this lily white, all-American military family compared to how he treated the Khan family. During his campaign, Trump slung criticisms at this family that were laced with stereotypes and petulance. Clearly, to Trump, a Muslim soldier is worth less. And that is not a message I am OK with.
And here’s the thing: are American people really falling all over themselves to praise a man who mocked a disabled person? Or joked about sexual assault? Or promoted the use of violence against people of color? Yes, they are. I found myself wondering why and honestly, the only thing I can think of is that we have been beaten so low for so long by his monstrosity and poor behavior that the fact that he spent nearly an hour without being fucking vile was glorious to us.
So my warning is this: we cannot set the bar so low that we allow this to be how we engage with DJT. We cannot. He is counting on it… because if we do, then he gets to quietly pass legislation that diminishes our access to clean water and limits investigations into police misconduct. While he keeps us distressed and guessing, his team of white supremacists are passing legislation that they know damn well won’t affect them, but will devastate us and our children. So please, do not let the bar fall. He’s still a monster and his team is even worse.