The President Is the Enemy

May 4 was the 50th anniversary of the Kent State Massacre, where the National Guard opened fire on Vietnam War protesters on the campus of Kent State University, killing 4 people. The authorities shooting unarmed protesting Americans was a thing that happened with ludicrous regularity in the 1960s and early 1970s. Really, for most of our history, but it was particularly intense five decades ago during the era of civil rights unrest and antiwar marches. Still, Kent State was different because of the involvement of the National Guard, because it wasn't state police or local cops doing the shooting, but an arm of the military. President Nixon, the commander-in-chief, was the enemy that needed to be stopped.

Another incident shortly after was not met with bullets. On May 8, 1970, a large group of construction workers stormed through an antiwar protest on Wall Street in New York City. They were violently confrontational with the protesters, and then they stormed City Hall, where Mayor John Lindsay had had the American flag flown at half-mast in honor of those killed at Kent State.  According to the New York Times, "A postal worker who had joined the fray managed to climb onto the roof and raise the stars and stripes to its proper, prideful position. When city officials returned it to half-mast, the workers rushed the building, leaping over police barricades and running over the hoods of cars. Fearing a disaster, officials raised the flag back to full mast." The protest at Kent State had been non-violent. The Hard Hat Riot, as it came to be known, was not, with workers wrecking property and beating protesters, with 70 people injured. The marches of the hard hats continued for days after. Nixon embraced the movement, made up of white conservative men who supported the president and hated hippies, and, after a huge march in NYC on May 20, he invited the leaders of the construction unions involved to the White House to honor them. 

Nothing is new. Not chaos of the MAGA movement. Not the conservative hatred of the left. Not the racism and violence. And not the idea that the president has become the enemy of the people. 

We have example after example, an overwhelming amount of evidence, really, that Donald Trump is actively trying to harm large numbers of people in the United States, and I don't mean in the usual way that policies affect people. I'm not even thinking about his rollback of environmental rules or his gutting of regulations on food and drugs. It's not even his embrace of the gun lobby to the point that the only thing that slows down massacre after massacre is a pandemic. Hell, all that's just your run-of-the-mill Republican murder racket. 

Donald Trump's actions during this pandemic show a callous disregard for the lives of Americans. It's not that he tried to do something and he failed. Putting aside his nearly useless limitations on travel from China, he has refused to act or acted grudgingly in small ways to mitigate some of the damage caused by COVID-19 in the United States. His hyping of hydroxychloroquine was harmful, his musing about the positive effects of disinfectant on the human body was a ludicrous (and harmful) distraction, and his refusal to wear a mask and support even the simplest measure, social distancing, gave a message to his followers that what his own CDC and own medical team were saying was a lie. We know that his failure to respond with the urgency that many of his own advisers were asking for allowed for the explosion of coronavirus. We know, for sure, that tens of thousands of people died not just because he bumbled the response. They died because he abjectly, proudly refused to respond. He is essentially the parent who thinks God is going to heal their sick child. The parents are to blame for the kid's death, not an invisible sky wizard, not the kid. 

Again and again, President Trump says things that are meant to show his toughness - and, to be fair, the coterie of morons, freaks, and goons that support him probably believe this pampered pansy of a man is tough - but are ultimately signals for violence against what he perceives as undesirables, or those who don't love him, which, honestly, is the majority of the country. His tweet in reaction to the riots against the racist actions of police in Minneapolis is only the latest call to harm Americans. "Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts," he wrote, in an echo of racist cops and leaders in the 1960s. That isn't a racist dog whistle. It's a racist air horn, especially since he also called the people rioting "THUGS" (his caps, not mine). It's also terrorism, and terrorists who are born in this country are domestic enemies. And that's on top of Trump's support of armed white people having protests to reopen businesses, undermining governors and medical experts, and probably leading to even more death just to get the economy moving again and boost his standing in the polls, as well as his blithe dismissal or winking at other racist violence.

And I haven't even talked about Trump actively trying to make climate change worse by promoting coal and other fossil fuels while hindering the development of alternative energy sources. That's the massacre to come. Or the continued mistreatment of migrants, which has gotten worse during the pandemic. 

The capper to all of this is Trump's stern refusal to mourn deaths properly. He can shed crocodile tears, as he has done disgustingly over the murder of George Floyd, but this is the same man who said he wanted cops to rough up suspects. This is the same man who just called for extrajudicial killings of unarmed thieves. He has said barely a word about the over 100,000 Americans who die and continue to die of coronavirus, as if acknowledging them is a weakness, as if they were too weak and deserved to die. 

The message that sends is that those deaths don't matter, they are an inconvenience, they are to be swept under the lumpy rug of failures because they just distract from the one thing that Trump wants you to believe: That Trump is great. 

The President is the enemy of the American people. He's not just a buffoon or a loser or an idiot. I've used the word before, but it becomes clearer and clearer all the time. He's evil. He's actively, intently evil. Yes, the cruelty is still the point. But the impulse behind the cruelty isn't merely the will to power. It's actually evil. 

I don't use that word lightly. Donald Trump doesn't see people as individual human beings, he doesn't want to lead the nation, and he sure doesn't care who lives or dies, as long as he lives. He sees the world as divided into for him and against him. Only the former deserve to exist, and he's doing everything he can to make sure the latter don't.

I don't know what other word you'd use. 

He had a chance today to say something about Floyd and about the civil unrest in Minneapolis and elsewhere. He refused not just because he's incapable of empathy, but because he is capable of apathy.

The President is the enemy. Not just of Democrats. One thing about evil people: if they aren't going after you yet, they will be soon.