The Privilege In White Privilege!

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

 He’s in desperate shape. He’s going to burn it all down, sow more chaos and division because that’s where he succeeds.” These are the words of Donald Trump’s niece Mary Trump, made in an interview with the Guardian last October. January 6, 2021, a day that will forever stain the pages of American history amidst chaos and division, the fire burned brightly. 

It was a fire ignited by the match provided to a privilege that only a certain segment of our population has been given. It is a match of privilege only contained in the box of white privilege. No other group in America has been allowed to attack with impunity the nation’s capital, our citadel of freedom and democracy. We witnessed an insurrectionist group of domestic terrorists storm the capitol, break down the doors, walk over the police, bust the windows, roam the floors, ransacking congressional offices at will. They were welcomed and given a free “come as you are” pass by some members of the capitol police. As they came in after taking selfies with certain members of the capitol police, backpacks strapped on their backs, bricks and sticks in hand, one even had a pistol strapped to his side. 

They broke up an historic gathering of both Houses of Congress. The Congress had assembled to affirm the 46th President and Vice President of the United States of America. They hung from the balconies, sat at the desks of Senators and Congresspersons. They put their feet on the desk of the Speaker of the House. All of this while members of Congress hit the floor, hid behind office doors, and huddled in galleries above the floor of Congress. These seditionists urinated in the hallway, threw reams of paper, turned over file cabinets, and rummaged through desk drawers. The motley crew even tried to replace “Old Glory”, the nation’s flag flying above the capitol, with the one bearing the name of their leader, a tyrannical demagogue and would-be dictator-in-chief called Trump. 

They made certain they did not leave the capitol without special gifts such as molotov cocktails, explosive devices, and materials of menace meant to maim or take the life of the occupants of the people’s house.

 

Where were the police? Where were the national guard? Where were the troops? Where were the folks in charge? Who opened the door and let the dogs in? In June of 2020, a nonviolent march led by Black Lives Matter was met with national guards and police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas, and battle helmets on the steps of the Capitol. In that same month, Trump left the Rose Garden headed to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo opportunity to snap his picture, while holding a bible upside-down. Just moments before police had released tear gas and fired rubber bullets to clear a path for his Mussolini like march. This separate and unequal treatment of nonviolent protestors vs. violent insurrectionists mocks the very definition of equal treatment under law. Black and brown protestors have been jailed, tear-gassed, beaten, bitten by dogs, murdered, and disappeared never to be seen again. No, we are not asking you to shoot these terrorists like you shoot Blacks. We are asking you not to shoot Blacks like you do not shoot these terrorists. There are very few, if any, white murder or police assault victims like Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, George Floyd, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, LaQuan McDonald, Natasha McKenna, Michelle Cusseaux, or Jacob Blake. They didn’t get the privilege of having white privilege Donald Trump represents the highest level of white privilege. He told the nation he was not going to accept the results of the election if he did not win. He attempted to shut down the U.S. Postal Service through his minion Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. 

He tried to change the rules of the national census. He tried to cancel and encourage elimination of early voting and mail-in ballots. He filed over 62 frivolous lawsuits in courts around the country, losing at least 60 cases. Trump tried to threaten, intimidate, denigrate lawmakers, and secretaries of state, from Michigan to Georgia. His goal – to get them to flip the election just so he could remain in power. He has even dogged his own Vice President Pence, encouraging him to go rogue to select a new set of electors just for him. He is unfit, unsafe, and unstable. It is not enough to block him from using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. He still has access to nuclear codes, the armed forces, and the human resources of the entire nation at his disposal. The 25th Amendment, Section 4, states in part, “whenever the vice president and the majority of either principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro-tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.” If this is not done, then the next move should very well be the impeachment, once again, of the 45th President. His enablers must no longer enable him.

 

I agree with the editors of the Kansas City Star who called out the behavior of one of their own, Senator Josh Hawley. The editors indicated that “he has blood on his hands in the capital coup attempt.” Hawley, like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, put out fundraising appeals while the nation’s capital was under siege. Both have presidential aspirations. Conservative George Will asked the question, “has there ever been a high ratio of ambition to accomplishment?” These Republican enablers, the facilitators of Trumpism like Senators Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ron Johnson, and Marco Rubio, Representative Kevin McCarthy, Former Attorney General Bill Barr and several others, must be held responsible for this national tragedy. Senator Susan Collins was correct when she said Trump did learn his lesson after his impeachment. The only problem is the lesson he learned is not the one she intimated. Trump learned that he could do these crimes, lead an insurrection, manipulate the government in America like he tried to do in the Ukraine, and get away with it facing no accountability. In the closing words of Congressman Adam Schiff following that same impeachment, “and you know you can’t trust this President to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to. This is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Because right matters and the truth matters. Otherwise, we are lost.”

 

Trump did not get here by himself. You cannot find religion two weeks before the start of a new administration, like you are a hero when you’ve been causing political hell for the past four years while being a zero. Four people are dead. Many are injured and an international diminishing of our democratic status as a nation has occurred. We have been shamed in the eyes of the world. However, the greater shame is on each one of us. If we do not take a much tighter hold on preserving our democracy, we will lose it in this season of hypocrisy. Listening to a two-minute tape recorded speech from Trump, as a result of the pressure he now feels concerning his removal from office, that he will now accept a peaceful transfer of power on January 20th, does not absolve his criminal behavior. It is much too little, too late. He has proven that he cannot be trusted. Let us remember the words of Alexis de Tocqueville when he spoke of Democracy in America, “tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way. However, it ignores the body and goes straight for the soul.”

 

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