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THOMPSON: After nearly 4 years in office, Trump has shredded the fabric of American culture



It’s a chilling photo from the early 1960s...a couple dozen Southern white kids facing a camera - Confederate flags and a “We want a white school” sign in hand - protesting school desegregation. Such protests were common throughout the U.S.

The photo is chilling for a variety of reasons...for one it actually happened...and for another a good number of those kids are still alive...most in their early 70s. I wonder what they think when they see themselves today?

Sure, people can change...I’ve known it to happen. But, the truth is, most people don’t. My experience is that people simply age...and rather than evolve on matters of bigotry...they harbour those thoughts and feelings until they die. They’re kids...but you’re looking at the faces of hate.

Of course, many of the kids in that photo are now granddads. They’re fishing...playing golf...enjoying life with their families and friends. I’d like to think...believe...that their thoughts and feelings about anyone who isn’t like them have changed...and they have become more enlightened.

History shows that’s not likely the case. Otherwise the hatred and feelings of half the nation in the nineteenth century...that people of colour were inferior because they weren’t white...would be gone. And they are not.

Image Credit: Photo by permission and courtesy C.R. Williams

Indeed, those feelings are so with us today that President Donald J. Trump couldn’t bring himself to denounce white supremacists during a debate last week with Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden.

This is already the most daunting year during my time on the planet...and I’m hoping it doesn’t get even worse. But I’m not overly optimistic. Why?

Generations after the kids in this photo spewed hatred...millions of Americans apparently see nothing wrong in that photo. Many might even look at these kids fondly...remember the times as the good ole days...fodder for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” cult.

Trump told everyone three years ago after white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA chanted “Jews will not replace us” and one crazed bigot ran over a woman peacefully protesting...killing her...that “You also had some very fine people on both sides.” That, of course, was...and remains...a lie.

Americans will elect a president this one month. I still wonder how my fellow Americans can you look the other way on such a fundamental human issue? How can you pretend that the greatest threat to American democracy under Trump lies with outsiders - Russians? Chinese? Terrorists? - when Americans are more likely to die from attacks by crazy American bigots?

If you watched the presidential debate last saw a man - Donald J. Trump - who is completely unfit to be president. He was - in a 15-person focus group of undecided voters - variously characterized as “arrogant,” a “bully,” “unhinged,” “chaotic” and “un-American.” And yet, the majority - nine of the 15 - claimed after the shit-show that they were still undecided. Really?

As I was writing this column last Friday, President Trump tested positive for COVID-19...along with First Lady Melania. As you read this...there’s little doubt that people at the White House and Trump supporters at recent political rallies and at the Rose Garden event announcing a new Conservative Supreme Court Justice nominee...have COVID-19...or are nervously awaiting test results.

Pity so many Republican Trump lovers have refused to wear masks...including the biggest Trump lover...Donald Trump. But, as much as I despise Donald Trump...and I do...I’m not wishing him ill. I have more empathy than he has shown the 214,000 who have died among the almost eight million Americans who have contracted the virus...numbers that can be laid at his feet.

In irony too thick to cut, Donald Trump is at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center....being treated by the best doctors and nurses and receiving special medicines...all at taxpayer expense. He was flown there with taxpayer dollars. He is in good hands...the best hands.

If I - or most other Americans - get COVID-19...taxpayer dollars aren’t going to provide us with the medical treatment...and the medicines we need. The $750 in income taxes Trump paid in each of the past two years wouldn’t get you a hospital room for a day.

You see, millions of Americans don’t have health insurance...and those of us who do...are in danger of losing coverage for pre-existing conditions because one man - Donald Trump - hates Barrack Obama and wants to gut the Affordable Care Act. There is, of course, an answer to the riddle that is Trump out of office.

I received my absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 election last Friday, as well...and I will hand carry it to my voting precinct in Florida later this month. It’s a sheet of paper that you mark and enclose in an envelope and sign...and yet it’s a scary thing to Donald Trump.

Up until last Friday and his positive COVID-19 might have been the scariest thing he’s faced this year. You see, Donald Trump knows that the greater number of people who vote...the less chance he has of staying in the White House. He and the Republicans are already cheating...and some have been caught.

If there’s such a thing as Karma, Donald Trump will survive COVID-19. He has a lot to account for to Americans and people worldwide. For nearly four years, he has shredded the fabric of American culture...anything and everything that is good...he has harmed. He has undermined democracy...cheered and exploited divisiveness...and promoted hatred and bigotry.

Enough. Donald Trump might have the support of the granddads in this photo...racists then and now. Any Americans that are “undecided” really need to look within their hearts and souls. If it helps, just imagine someone taking your photo as you cast your ballot for day you’ll know how the racist kids in the photo feel.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.

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