Trump Uses Fear to Intimidate Citizens
by Gregory Floyd
Nov 04, 2020 | 1648 views | 0 0 comments | 180 180 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Pew Research Center recently issued a report that found 6 percent of American adults — equaling around 15 million people — attended summer rallies to protest racial injustice.

That finding falls in line with a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in mid-July that found that 70 percent of Americans believe that Blacks and other minorities are not treated equally with whites in the criminal justice system.

These findings fly in the face of what President Donald Trump termed “a symbol of hate,” referring to a Black Lives Matter mural. Of course, the fact that it was painted directly in front of Trump Tower may have pushed the issue, but with this president left-leaning protesters are anarchists.

To him, they represent mob rule, and he delights in stoking the fear of whites with warnings (although unproven) of caravans of Hispanics trying to enter this country and Muslim terrorists infiltrating our communities.

His senior advisor, Stephen Miller, even appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show to justify a federal crackdown on protesters in Portland, Oregon, by saying the often-brutal actions by law enforcement was about the “survival of this country.”

Right-wing extremists, such as the KKK and Qanon, have been given a free pass. He says that there are “good people on both sides.” In fact, in the recent presidential debate Trump refused to condemn white supremacists, and said that if the election results are not immediately decisive (or, in other words, it appeared that he may not win) the Proud Boys, a far-right hate group, was to “stand back and stand by.”

But this administration is not the first to use the weapon of fear to intimidate its citizens. As the New York Times journalist Charles Blow tells us, founding father Benjamin Franklin, concerned that the British would try to reconcile with the colonists after the Revolutionary War, “sought to inflame passions of the colonists and embarrass the British by concocting a report of packages containing eight large scalps taken by the Senneka Indians from inhabitants of the frontiers of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia,” including the scalps of women, boys and infants.

Stoking white fear continued throughout American history with spikes during Reconstruction, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights movement.

Sometimes its expression was more subliminal, like the Willie Horton presidential ad George Bush used in his 1988 campaigns, to the more violent showings in Trump ads of looters vandalizing local businesses and bashing police officers, admonishing voters that chaos will reign if Biden wins, making the untrue claim that Biden wants to defund law enforcement.

The question of bypassing or skirting truth and morality to win or succeed in any context has been a matter of debate throughout the ages. The concept that “the ends justifies the means” is attributed to Niccolo Machiavelli, who authored “The Prince,” which was published in the first half of the 1500s.

Today’s political climate is drenched in the debate. Which way to go to win? The Michelle Obama adage “when they go low, we go high” is often dwarfed by the cruelty of an administration that uses every chance to instill fear in the citizenry.

Frame and defame is the current tactic. No one is too sacred. War heroes like John McCain, Gold Star parents like the Khans and dedicated, long-time career civil servants like Alexander Vindman and Marie Yovanovitch are demonized and discarded.

If you don’t like what you see, what are you to do? Vote!

By so doing, your voice is heard. Your ballot is a picket sign. Your protest is felt.

Gregory Floyd is president of Teamsters Local 237 and vice president-at-large on the General Board of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
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