To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Observercast

Trump Plays His Willie Horton Card

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Donald Trump has been trying for years to play his Willie Horton card, to divide the country along lines of race as a means of reaffirming his base.

You can hardly give him credit for creativity, strategically speaking. It’s not so different from the way former President Richard Nixon played “law and order,” the way former Sen. Jesse Helms played the pink unemployment slip [that always went into a black hand], the way former President George Bush – Daddy Bush – played the black man on prison furlough [William Horton]. Crime, welfare reform, affirmative action: Prick up your ears for the bias below the surface.

During this pandemic, it is not below the surface. It is before our very eyes. In the first days of the pandemic, the pictures showed Americans from every corner of the country and every walk of life succumbing to the terrifying coronavirus. And that was necessary, if not absolutely representative. It reminded me, just a little, and tearfully, of the boost “heterosexual transmission” was thought to give AIDS funding.

But it took very little time and very little probing to see that this was not a “We are the World” pandemic. No, not even in our own country. By the time you read this, there will surely be new numbers. If you think about the fatality rate for blacks versus whites and compare it to the admittedly lopsided imprisonment rate, you’re thinking in the right ballpark.

We’re talking about black people being six times more likely to contract and die of COVID-19.

You wonder why people are angry in Minnesota. I’d be on the streets. President Donald Trump has made black life cheap.

Oh, I’ve heard the usual lip service: This isn’t about race; it’s about diabetes and obesity and high blood pressure and poor access to medical care. People say these things with a straight face as if they are not precisely describing the black experience in America.

So the cities got killed, literally, particularly the parts of the cities where blacks live and COVID thrives [purely coincidental because blacks happen to be poor and lack access to health care, etc.] Who would have thought?

Everyone. You saw it every night on TV. Thank God for Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, or no one would have put on a mask.

But it isn’t just the bright-blue cities where Trump has flaunted his disinterest in death. There are all those red states that don’t have big cities, but they do have poor rural areas where people work in meatpacking plants and the virus has raged. And they do have second- and third-class nursing homes where a huge percentage of the nursing-home deaths have occurred and the virus is showing up every day.

Americans are reopening. People who need a check are going back to work, afraid for their safety. Trump has turned it into a macho issue. Wearing a face mask, social distancing – that’s sissy stuff for Mr. Macho, especially where mostly poor black and those who are “very, very old” [to quote the president] are dying. And it’s partisan. Who cares about the poor blacks in those red states? Who is watching out for them? In one America, why should the state you live in determine the danger of your job?

Not to sound like a bureaucrat, but whatever happened to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration?

It is shameful that some Americans are risking the lives of others.

But it is beyond shameful when loss is so starkly divided along lines of race and class, and when the president emerges as the cheerleader of the Take a Risk Club.

Susan Estrich
Susan Estrich
Estrich served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1988, she was the campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' 1988 presidential run, even though she had never before managed a political campaign. She was the first female campaign manager of a major presidential campaign, and the first female campaign manager of the modern era. [5] [6] Estrich appears frequently on Fox News as a legal and political analyst, and has also substituted for Alan Colmes on the debate show Hannity & Colmes. She writes regular articles for the conservative website NewsMax, for which she is a pundit.[7] She is also on the Board of Editorial Contributors for USA Today.[8] She is currently a law professor at the University of Southern California Law School and a political science professor at its affiliated undergraduate school. Before joining the USC faculty in 1989, she was Professor of Law at Harvard University, where she was the youngest woman to receive tenure.[9] On January 10, 2008, Estrich joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, a law firm based in Los Angeles, where she chairs their Public Strategy in High Profile Litigation: Media Relations practice area. [10][11] She writes a nationally syndicated print column distributed through Creators Syndicate.