Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP

Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony

Benjamin Franklin one of the signers of the United States Constitution wrote, “There can be no such thing as wisdom and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of thought.” The non-presidential and un-ethical rants of the 45th President of the United States remind us as to who he is and what he represents. Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Some still sit and wonder what will he do, what will he say, and how will he act tomorrow? We already know the answer – more chaos, confusion, and division. The only thing left for this President to do is exactly what he boasted, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and wouldn’t lose any voters, okay?” We are beyond surprise, expectation, and imagining.

The conduct and the policies of this President, his party, along with supporters who aid and abet him are the greatest threat to the sanctity and preservation of our democracy. The constant division and authoritarian nature of his presidency take us back to a time many do not wish to revisit. Trump reminds us of Lester Maddox, former Georgia Governor, who said, “part of American greatness, is discrimination. Yes, sir. Inequality, I think breeds freedom and gives a man opportunity.” President Trump stood in the doorway on the east lawn of the White House, telling four duly elected congresswomen, “if you don’t like America, then leave America.” He seems to be indicating you can either support what I do or get the hell out of the country. It was reminiscent of Alabama Governor George Wallace standing in the doorway of the University of Alabama telling black students, “I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” This even goes back to the American Colonization Society of 1817. This was an organization led by white folks whose purpose was to send freed slaves back to Africa. In historian Eric Foner’s book, “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery” it centered around the issue of what to do with free black folks in this nation. The book revealed discussions on the possibility of colonization efforts in places like Brazil, Columbia, the Caribbean, and Africa. Later, this society helped to establish on the west coast of Africa, a colony that in 1847 became the independent nation of Liberia. President Trump needs to know that what he is saying is illegal according to his own Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Please note:

Harassment Based on National Origin.

  • “Ethnic slurs and other verbal or physical conduct because of nationality are illegal if they are severe or pervasive and create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment, interfere with work performance, or negatively affect job opportunities,” the EEOC’s website says. “Examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting, or ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person’s foreign accent or comments like, ‘GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM,’ whether made by supervisors or by co-workers.”

This notion is not new. It is, however, an idea whose time has come and for the most part for African Americans has passed. We ain’t going nowhere! This country was built on the backs of enslaved Africans who never got a paycheck. We have fought in every war in this country. Black and brown people are serving right now to protect President Trump and his family in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, stationed in South Korea, Africa, Central, and South America, and throughout Europe. They serve this country with courage and commitment, while their Commander-In-Chief has received five deferments due to bone spurs. He dares to continue his bombastic rhetoric about how bad he is and how powerful America is, yet we know he will never do any fighting for this nation. We can clearly see that the emperor wears no clothes. As Trump demands people of color go back home, should First Lady Melania Trump go back to Slovenia? She was just made a citizen 12 years ago in 2006. Did the mother of the President return to Scotland? Should his grandparents have gone back to Germany where they originated?

The record of this President speaks for itself. His record reflects lawsuits against him and his father for racial discrimination in housing in New York. It reflects prejudice against African American money managers and accountants, saying, “the only people that can count my money are those that wear yarmulkes.” He has attacked African nations, calling them “shithole countries.” He called African American athletes, “sons-of-bitches.” He called for the death penalty of the Central Park Five, never apologizing to them even as a serial rapist confessed to the crime of which they were falsely accused. The founder of the Birther Movement against former President Barack Obama, he has insinuated that he was not really born in America. He believes that Nazi’s and white supremacists are “good people” and has never demanded that they go back to where they come from. Trump has never said to Vladimir Putin to get out of America and go back to Russia for interfering with the American election of 2016. As a matter of fact, he admires Putin for the hammer-like and authoritarian manner in which he governs the Russian people. Are we witnessing the Putinization of America? Do we have in Washington a would-be dictator wrapped drapes himself in the American flag?

His racist political strategy is not one that uplifts. It is one that beats down. We cannot be silent while this administrations’ policies separate brown babies and children from their families at our southern border. Human beings should not be forced to live in the squalor of cages and confinement in the most powerful and affluent nation of the world. History serves as the best teacher. President George H. W. Bush wanted a “Kinder and Gentler Nation.” President George W. Bush called for a “Compassionate Conservatism.” President Bill Clinton advocated for “One America In The 21st Century.” President Barack Obama told every American that, “Yes, We Can.” President Donald J. Trump says, “If you don’t like it, leave the country.”

According to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.” The President is wrong. His words are hurtful. His behavior is demeaning. His policies are destroying the very foundation of our nation. Every American who believes in freedom and democracy must stand up, speak up, and keep up. It is then that we the people can preserve the soul of our nation for the next generation. In the words of the late federal Judge Damon J. Keith, “Democracy dies in the dark.” The people within our nation must shine the light of truth on our democracy from every mountain, sea, and shore.

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