American Despair

In the face of race riots, President Donald Trump denies nothing and proposes nothing because reopening these issues would anger his voters, for whom these problems either don’t exist or do not require any more national intervention.

American essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of the 2015 book “Between The World And Me” that highlights the institutionalized racism in effect in his country, was right to call Trump “America’s first white president” arguing that he is the only one to owe his election to the fact that he is … white. This conviction animates the White House resident more than ever, with only a few months to go before his possible reelection at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Faced with the most important race riots that the United States has known since those of 1992 in Los Angeles, the American president has decided to portray himself as the great defender of “law and order” from antifascist extremists who have perverted the black minority fight for equal rights from the police. But by reducing the protesters to hooligans and looters, Trump is ignoring the original demands of the peaceful protesters and transforming what should have been a social issue into strictly a security issue. On the excessively aggressive police tactics which, in 2019, cost 1,099 American lives from all communities, on the targeting of African Americans in these interventions illustrated by repeated murders, on the impunity enjoyed by the police or security guards implicated in these cases, on the institutionalized racism documented by a number of experts, Trump denies nothing and proposes nothing. Why? Because reopening these issues would anger his voters, for whom these problems either don’t exist or do not require any more national intervention.

In the United States, and elsewhere, political leaders are blind to the problems of some of their contemporaries, and, as if to avoid their responsibilities, they are deliberately distorting them into binary confrontations when nuance is really called for. Excoriating the extreme brutality of certain American police officers does not reduce them all to the rank of crude brutes; some have themselves denounced the racist actions of their colleagues. Questioning China’s influence on the World Health Organization is legitimate, though it can be done without declaring that everything it did during the coronavirus crisis was useless. Confining its population to save it from a deadly coronavirus does not mean that one does not care about the economic consequences of such a measure.

To live through the final year of Trump’s term, therefore, consists of bearing the threat of a cold war between American and Chinese powers, lamenting the loss of credibility of a great ally incapable of confronting the evils that trouble it, and no longer even being able to adhere to the virtues of the multilateralism of reason. Moreover, this dark time risks being prolonged because American Democrats cannot manage to free themselves from the trap in which Trump has ensnared them, and because, from Minneapolis to Washington, pseudo-activists will betray the noble fight by not even bothering to vote on Nov. 3.

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