Posted Monday morning, September 26, 2016.
Trump visits Flint, Michigan. Photo by Damon Winter courtesy of the New York Times.
Donald Trump's continued outreach to African-American voters led to an unprecedented declaration about the state of life for those communities.---Meghan Keneally, ABC News. September 21, 2016.
Trump has made efforts in recent weeks to reach out to African Americans in a Detroit church and a Cleveland charter school.---Kathleen Gray, USA Today Network. September 20, 2016.
If there’s a heaven and it works the way it does in old movies and the stories the nuns used to tell us in grade school, then every journalist, editor, producer, and pundit who refers to what Trump’s been up to as he swaggers about in places like Flint, Chicago, and Detroit, pretending concern for African-Americans while telling them how miserable their lives are and promising only he can fix things---”What have you got to lose?”--- without promising them anything but cuts in government services and more and more forceful abuse by the police, in any words that add up to some version of “Donald Trump continued his outreach to African-American voters today…” will be met and judged at the Pearly Gates not by St Peter but by a tribunal consisting of the souls of Benjamin Franklin, Ida B. Wells, Ida Tarbell, and I.F. Stone, who will send them straight to a hell designed especially for them, which I imagine as being very much like one of those economically blasted Midwestern or Southern small towns elite and pretentious journalistic hacks like to portray as homes to the only real Americans where for all eternity they will be unable to get a good WiFi connection or a decent IPA and be expected to actually care about NASCAR.
There’s no outreach to African-American voters. There never has been. There never will be. Trump doesn’t need a single black vote. He does need every single white vote he can corral, and that’s what he’s been up to. Reaching out, all right, reaching out to his angry, white, racist base and any and all other angry, white, racists who are on the fence about voting for him or staying home.
He’s telling African-American voters that their lives stink and it’s their own fault. It’s their own fault for voting for Democrats. And it’s their own fault for being lazy, self-indulgent, undisciplined, and dependent on government handouts. He’s telling them off.
And he’s doing it in order to tell his angry, white, racist base that they’re right to be angry and racist. He’s reassuring them that they’re not just better off for having been born white, they’re morally and mentally and even physically superior. He’s been telling them it’s ok to resent and fear black people. He’s making the old racist point that there’s no point in caring what happens to THEM or doing anything to make THOSE PEOPLE’S lives better because THEY don’t want to make their lives better, they’re happy to live in squalor and filth, to send their children to bad schools, to have to duck bullets just to run to the corner store to buy cigarettes and Red Bull. They’re happy to produce child after child by different fathers and mothers and to leave those children to be raised by somebody else. They’re happy not to have jobs because they’re happy not to have to work. They’re happy for all this because they’re happy to live off the tax money of good, hard-working, morally and mentally superior white people.
He’s telling his voters that black lives don’t matter because they don’t matter to black people themselves.
He’s telling his white racist voters that all the problems that beset black people---all black people, because there are no successful, hardworking, taxpaying black people---that aren’t their own fault are the fault of Democrats and liberals whose Big Government policies and programs not only fail to solve those problems, they make them worse.
He’s telling his voters that they not should they be afraid of black people, they’re morally justified to act on that fear in harsh, cruel, and even violent ways. He’s telling them to be afraid, be very afraid, but...don’t worry, he’ll save and protect them.
He’s promising to build yet another wall, this one made up of blue uniforms and guns.
If the first deadly sin for journalists is to fail to report the truth without fear or favor, and the second is to let a liar get away with telling a lie, then most of the American political press corps is already damned on two counts.
But surely the third deadly sin is to help that liar tell his lie.
To describe what Trump’s up to as reaching out to African-American voters is to complete the trifecta.
And to actually believe it is to commit the Fourth Deadly Sin against good journalism.
Letting yourself be played for a sap.