Donald Trump has seen the enemy — and it is us | Thursday Morning Coffee

July 23, 2020 7:12 am

President Donald Trump (Capital-Star file)

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

In the last 24 hours, the Sierra Club, the venerable environmental advocacy group, denounced the racism of its founderJohn Muir. The U.S. House approved a bill removing statues of Confederate leaders from the Capitol as well the bust of the U.S. Supreme Court justice who authored the hateful Dred Scott decision.

And on our streets, as they have for weeks, a multiracial, multigenerational, gender-spanning coalition of Americans have continued to march, calling for change, demanding better of a country whose status as a beacon of hope to the world is looking dimmer and dimmer all the time.

Rather than move forward with the rest of the nation, President Donald Trump’s White House is getting ready to expand its undeclared war against Americans to Chicago, Philadelphia, and other cities — all run by Democratic mayors, and over their objections — in the supposed guise of restoring order and protecting federal property.

In reality, these federal officers yanking protesters off the street have exceeded their authority into blatantly unconstitutional territory. They’re no longer protecting courthouses or federal buildings. In a campaign worthy of Pinochet’s Chile, they’re detaining people exercising their First Amendment rights.

Indeed, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said his agents are now “proactively” arresting people, the Washington Post reported, sparing us such tedious notions as due process, or even probable cause.

Those aren’t the actions of a president boldly leading his people in the face of a shaky economy and the greatest public health threat in a century; one that has, without mercy or discrimination, claimed the lives of more than 140,000 Americans. They’re the machinations of a coward who so disdains dissent; who so fears defeat, that he’s turning the full strength and security apparatus of the state against his own people.

That’s not what a democratically elected president does. Rather, they’re the thuggish tactics of a bargain basement Mussolini, a leader who doesn’t care how many of our institutions or norms he torches, just as long as he, and his spectacularly corrupt and incompetent clan, can cling to power.

PORTLAND, OR – JULY 21:A federal officer tells the crowd to move while dispersing a protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 21, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. State and city elected officials have called for the federal officers to leave Portland as clashes between protesters and federal police continue to escalate. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

In Philadelphia, the cradle of American democracy, Black leaders said they fear that federal law enforcement will target the city’s Black residents. That’s not mere rhetoric. It’s practically a statistical guarantee in a city that is overwhelmingly Black.

“These troops could be more useful finding the gun-runners that are flooding our community with guns, flooding our community with drugs, flooding our community with every other measure that makes our life chances diminished,” Rodney Muhammad, the president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACPsaid during a Wednesday news conference, according to our partners. at the Philadelphia Tribune.

That is now the ostensible purpose of the operations in Chicago and Albuquerque. But now, thanks to DHS’s Wolf, we now know how these agents intend to operate.

And we’ve long known what Trump thinks of Black people.

In a dog whistle to his supporters that’s actually a bullhorn, he’s said Democrats and Joe Biden are intent on “destroying the suburbs.” A campaign commercial featuring an elderly white woman fearfully calling 911 unsubtly hammers home the real message. She’s not quaking because there are white kids at the front door.

And in separate news stories, we’ve learned that Trump’s niece, Mary Trump and former lawyer Michael Cohenin an unpublished manuscript, allege that President Trump used racial epithets. This isn’t news coming from a president who thinks the developing world is filled with “s**thole” countries.

And by executive fiat, as the Capital-Star’s Cassie Miller reported this week, the White House has said undocumented immigrants can’t be used for congressional apportionment — a move that serves the disgusting dual purpose of both marginalizing people of color and diminishing the representation of urban Americans in areas that tend to be Democratic strongholds.

At a news conference Wednesday, Trump said he might or might not wait for local officials to ask for help. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has told him to stay away.

Former Gov. Tom Ridge, a former Homeland Security czar, has said “it’d be a cold day in hell,” before he’d allow “uninvited” federal forces into one of his cities. Will Trump listen, and stick with the tradition of nonintervention without local invitation? The evidence is not encouraging.

A protester outside the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., on Saturday, 5/30/20 (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

Meanwhile, a record 69 percent of Americans say they believe Black and Brown Americans are denied equal treatment in the criminal justice system, and nearly an identical amount (63 percent) support Black Lives Matteraccording to a new ABC News poll.

And a majority of Americans. (52 percent) support the removal of Confederate monuments, according to a June Quinnipiac University pollTrump, meanwhile, remains a staunch defenders of the symbols of racism and treason.

The trend lines in both polls have moved in an upward trajectory, even as Trump and his supporters, with the silent acquiescence of Republicans on Capitol Hill, have tried to move the country ever backward, into a past where Blacks were discriminated against; LGBTQ Americans were rendered invisible, and women weren’t supposed to work outside the home.

That America is gone. And no matter how many skulls Trump tries to crack, it’s not coming back. America is leaving a sad and scared man behind.

But the fight isn’t over. With Trump signaling that he may not accept the results of the November election, it will take all of us, rising up and speaking with one voice, that his time is gone.

Because that’s the way actual democracies work.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
With time running out on the CARES Act, public transit advocates and union leaders are calling on Pennsylvania’s two United States senators to beef up mass-transit funding in the next coronavirus stimulus billCorrespondent Tom Lisi reports.

Looking for an easy getaway? Cassie Miller runs down the Top 10 most popular state parks in Pennsylvania.

Major environmental legislation sailed through Congress Wednesday while the nation’s political leaders were stuck in intense negotiations over the contours of a fifth coronavirus relief package, Capital-Star Washington Reporters Allison Stevens and Jacob Fischler write.

Lincoln University’s Board of Trustees will take a mulligan on its controversial vote to sack President Brenda Allen, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report. And, as noted above, leaders of the Philly NAACP are sounding warnings over the expected arrival of federal law enforcement in the city, the Trib also reports.

On our Commentary Page this morning, a former Pennsylvania resident now living in Portland says federal law enforcement in the city are doing more harm than good. And opinion regular Ray E. Landis explains why President Donald Trump’s proposed payroll tax holiday won’t help the people who need help the most.

(Photo via Flickr Commons)

More than a dozen Philadelphia police officers who were disciplined for offensive social media posts are claiming they were victims of discrimination, the Inquirer reports.
Gov. Tom Wolf has turned down the Toronto Blue Jays’ request to play at PNC Park, the Post-Gazette reports.
Thousands of Pennsylvanians are still trying to collect unemployment compensationPennLive reports.
The Allentown School District wants to start the school year virtually, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

Philadelphia is considering a later start time for high school students, WHYY-FM reports.
Undocumented York teen Arlette Morales (earlier profiled in our story) may be the first to learn if she’s a new DACA recipient, the PA Post reports.
Americans for Prosperity has made a round of legislative endorsements, PoliticsPA reports.
The White House and Senate Republicans are closing in on a deal for a new coronavirus relief package, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
10 a.m, Senate Chamber: 
Senate State Government Committee
2 p.m, G50 Irvis: House Democratic Policy Committee

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Anna Orso, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s another old school ska classic. This time, it’s Delroy Wilson, and ‘Better Must Come.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
With first pitch scheduled for tonight, makes its predictions for this shortened season.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.