We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was “legal”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Letter From Birmingham Jail
Donald Trump is problematic and unprepared at best to serve as president of the United States. He is unpredictably dangerous at worst. He came onto the campaign scene with no political experience, after being a champion of the birther cause against President Barack Obama. Trump promised to put his resources behind efforts to expose Obama as Kenyan-born and to show the nation that he was not an American citizen, and thus ineligible to serve as president. It was a clarion call for what is today known as the “alt-right” (alternative right) movement of nativists, populists, and White nationalists who promote racism and conspiracy theories. Trump would also capture the attention of millions through well-publicized bankruptcies and the Apprentice television show. He was considered a caricature of a preliminary candidate in the months leading up to presidential elections. Trump ran a very unconventional and comical campaign. He routinely and frequently used high school-ish and childish insults against his Republican primary rivals. He insulted, demeaned, and embarrassed a physically disabled reporter. He put his anti-woman misogyny on display before the world with his insults toward Megyn Kelly. He even encouraged Russia on national television to find and release the emails of Hillary Clinton which sparked serious debates on whether he had committed treason or not. Then came his sexual predatory comments released from his 2005 statement while stepping off a bus for an Access Hollywood appearance in which he said, he could grab women by the “pussy” and “kiss” them as he wanted because he’s a star. Even with this, during the campaign, a dozen women accused Trump of sexual assault. No one predicted a Trump victory and insiders say that neither did the Trump campaign. However, enough attention had not been paid to the long held bitterness toward an African American president, the seething racism still present in the country, the influence and ideas of the alt-right movement, the desire for anti-establishment candidates, and global politics. Enough attention had not been given to the lack of preparation and qualifications of Trump.
The Security Threat
Donald Trump is neither fit nor qualified to be the POTUS if we are judging by his political experience, business success, or temperament. Regarding his temperament, the most insightful information about him being unfit and explosively temperamental came in the form of A Letter From G.O.P. National Security Officials Opposing Donald Trump. These 50 high ranking national security officials were Republicans that spanned the administrations of Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. In clear words, now more ominous than ever, they stated:
“From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being” (2016).
Perhaps the country and the world could worry less had Trump himself not asked three times to a foreign policy expert, “If we have them (referring to nuclear bombs), why can’t we use them?” according to Joe Scarborough on the Morning Joe show. Perhaps the world could worry less had Trump not so cavalierly declared on the campaign trail that he would “bomb the shit out them” referring to ISIS. He also stated he would “take out their families” which is a war crime according to international law. Perhaps the world could worry less had he not talked about using nuclear weapons even against American allies and proclaimed he wanted to be “unpredictable”. However, the facts are that Trump will have the nuclear codes and the world is far less safe because of it. With Trump being in office, the US military must be put on alert because the probability of an unprovoked war just went through the roof.
Trump was unpredictable and unconventional as a primary candidate. In fact, no candidate like him has ever run for office in modern times. He is the most unqualified person to be elected to the office of the presidency, having no governmental or military experience as all of the former presidents have had for over 200 years of history. His experience which qualifies him is that he is a successful businessman. But is he?
The Failed Businessman
Kurt Eichenwald sums up Trump’s business experience in Donald Trump’s Main Business Failures, Explained in Newsweek (2016) as follows:
“Lost contracts, bankruptcies, defaults, deceptions and indifference to investors—Trump’s business career is a long, long list of such troubles, according to regulatory, corporate and court records, as well as sworn testimony and government investigative reports. Call it the art of the bad deal, one created by the arrogance and recklessness of a businessman whose main talent is self-promotion.”
Trump is also the only presidential candidate since Richard Nixon to refuse the release of his income taxes. In addition to exposing some very unwise business decisions and debt to overseas banks, including Russian debt, the country would find out that Trump is lying about his net worth. The Business Review USA article by Polly Coleman reports “The bankruptcy of Trump’s Atlantic City casinos left him (reportedly) in more than $3.4 billion of debt and his subsequent abandonment of the site is one of his darkest ventures” (2016). Many have speculated that Trump’s embarrassing praise of Vladmir Putin is a result of his financial debt to Russian banks. One of Trump’s Cabinet members, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, has close ties to Russia.
The New York Times conducted an investigation according to Susanne Craig in Trump’s Empire: A Maze of Debts and Opaque Ties (2016). Craig explains that Trump’s real estate holding in the US is $650 million in debt while an office building in Manhattan has a $950 million loan with the Bank of China as one of the lenders. In a federal financial disclosure form signed during the campaign, it stated Trump’s businesses have $315 million in debt. Craig explains , “Beyond finding that companies owned by Mr. Trump had debts of at least $650 million, The Times discovered that a substantial portion of his wealth is tied up in three passive partnerships that owe an additional $2 billion to a string of lenders…”
The nation can never know his actual worth which he claims is over $10 billion, yet estimates place his net worth at approximately $3 billion. However, any rational person would conclude that from a business perspective, Trump is at a minimum risky and loaded with hundreds of millions or even billions in debt. This is not the type of wealth by others which is counted in profit margins, not debt into the billions. Most recently, Trump settled $25 million in fraud lawsuits for “Trump University” which scammed thousands of people out of money. He settled to avoid being questioned deposition. How would Trump run the presidency if he ran his businesses into debt, even bragging the he “loves debt” and describing himself as the “king of debt”? Do we expect him to get the country out of the current deficit? If his dishonesty about his net worth or his business failures were the most controversial of issues with Trump, there would be so fewer worries. Unfortunately, that isn’t so.
Trump, Bannon, Alt-Right, and the Populists –Nativists Movement
Racism is going mainstream in the Trump administration with a road straight to the White House in the shoes of Trump himself and Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News and now chief strategist to Trump. The “alt-right” movement or the alternative right movement believes that White conservatives and liberals alike have fallen for White guilt and political correctness instead of defending American and White pride, alt-right believes in racial purity. Many are neo-Nazis, KKK, and White nationalists. Breitbart News, champion internet media site for Trump, in the words of Bannon is the “platform” of the alt-right movement. Breitbart News has published racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and bigoted headlines and content for years. The bigoted paths of Trump and Bannon were certain to cross. Tapes of interviews have leaked with Bannon guiding and even manipulating Trump through flattery on alt-right views.
While the media debates on whether or not Breitbart News and Bannon are racists that peddle in other forms of hatred, why not just take them at their own words. The Brietbart website proclaims:
“There are many things that separate the alternative right from old-school racist skinheads (to whom they are often idiotically compared), but one thing stands out above all else: intelligence. Skinheads, by and large, are low-information, low-IQ thugs driven by the thrill of violence and tribal hatred. The alternative right are a much smarter group of people — which perhaps suggests why the Left hates them so much. They’re dangerously bright.”
In short, Breitbart does not denounce racism and hatred. They are only new-school, more sophisticated, and articulate at expressing those views than ordinary “old-school” skinheads. There is, however, a much wider influence of nativism and populism with many shared views of the alt right movement.
Cas Mudde explained in The Far Right in the 2014 European Elections in the Washington Post that far rights had unprecedented success with the Danish People’s Party and the French National Front. The neo-Nazi parties of the National Democratic Party of Germany and the Greek Golden Dawn joined the European Parliament. Mudde notes, while not an “earthquake,” these far right populists-nativists and others had made significant and noteworthy gains in the European Parliament. Brexit itself, which Trump followed, was populists-nativists nationalism as well.
The populists-nativists movements in Europe is a result of a history of racism and bigotry, the normalization of fear and hatred of immigrants, controversy around birth rates, terroristic attacks, and wars in the Middle East. Obviously, the views and sentiments are widespread as we can judge with the election of Trump in the US and far right gains in the European Union. However, what Trump, the alt-right, and the populists-nativists of Europe fail to understand is how dangerous and counter-productive racism, hatred, intolerance, and xenophobia have been to nations around the world. The bloodshed of history and painful memories of the past are thrown by the wayside while contributions, talent, and genius hideaway in the shadows of illegal immigrant populations in Europe and America.
Trump: The Racist
For the record, Trump was not introduced into racist ideas and thinking by Steve Bannon. Trump didn’t learn populism or nativism from the alt-right movement either. It appears that like many bigots, Trump learned bigotry right at home. His father, Fred Trump is believed to have been a Klansmen from a 1927 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle which published his arrest in Queens, New York during a Klan protests. Phillip Bump detailed facts around the 1927 events in the Washington Post. Donald Trump vehemently denies this and even says the events around the arrest didn’t really happen. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC ran an explosive show on this topic. While working alongside his father and after taking over their real estate property, Donald discriminated against African Americans who wanted to rent property. Their applications were marked with a “C” for Colored as Blacks were turned away while Whites were given property. A former Trump rental agent, Stanley Leibowitz says that Fred Trump, with Donald next to him and agreeing said, “I do not rent to niggers!” In 1967, widespread discrimination was documented in Fred Trump’s rental properties. In 1973, Donald had taken over from his father, and a racial discrimination lawsuit by the Department of Justice was settled with Trump saying they would stop their discriminatory practices. Other discrimination lawsuits would come in the 1980s, and then the racist practices still didn’t stop. Trump denies all of this, even with court records, witnesses, and victims of his racism.
In 1989, after the horrific attempted murder and rape of a White jogger in Central Park, the five teens who became known as the Central Park Five were found innocent, released from incarceration, and exonerated of all chargers. Furious, Donald Trump took out full-page ads in the New York Daily News and other major newspapers to publicly crucifying these teens, call for a return of death penalty, and called for their execution – even after being proven innocent. Jeff Sessions, the incoming Attorney General praised Trump regarding taking out the ads on the Central Park Five, saying “he believes in law and order and he has the strength and will to make this country safer,” reported by Brown in the New York Daily. The boys were four Blacks and one Hispanic. Although there was a 2002 confession from the man who committed this horrible rape and murder, Trump still alleged that they were guilty during his recent campaign, and Sessions praised him. Should we be surprised that he has declared that he would bring back “stop-and-frisk” which was declared unconstitutional because it targeted poor Black and Hispanic communities? We can surmise that Trump had already mastered the art of stoking the flames of fear and heightening racism decades before his campaign. Should we be surprised by the way he speaks down to the Black community saying “What the hell do you have to lose” by electing him as president? Donald Trump, by electing you as president, the African American community, the nation, and the world have a tremendous amount to lose!
The most recent example of disturbing news regarding Trump’s racism is his appointment of Sen. Jeff Sessions to head the nation’s Justice Department as Attorney General. The New York Times recent article, Jeff Sessions as Attorney General: An Insult to Justice, noted that the he has a history of racism and bigoted ideas long before his recent praise of Trump’s attack on the Central Park Five, and even with his own denouncement of racism. Sessions was nominated to be a federal judge by Ronald Reagan in 1986 but denied by the Senate due to testimony about his racism. Sessions has been against the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a direct result of the Civil Rights Movement. He is in alignment with Trump’s views on immigration and would be an arm for the deportation plans. Under sworn oath from witnesses, Sessions has been accused of using the n-word and joking about the KKK. Considering Trump’s and Session’s history of racism, we could only pray that Civil Rights and constitutional protection organizations are getting ready for a potential protracted war with Sessions and Trump.
Trump: The Xenophobe
Thunderous chants from campaign events with crowds numbering into the thousands shouted, “Build that Wall! Build that Wall! And Mexico Will Pay!” Donald Trump tapped into American xenophobia and racism toward our southern neighbors, masked it as patriotism, and brought crowds of cheering supporters together without a clue as to how the wall would destroy the American economy considering the contributions of Mexicans to America. However, even more so unrealistic is how such a monumental task of building a deficit draining wall would pass through congressional legislation or other means such as executive order and redirecting immigration funds. This was the focus of the recent article Can Trump Build a Wall Without Congress’ Approval? Trump’s wall would cost tens of billions of dollars in construction alone. It is a long shoot that his wall will be built, but what’s important is the idea of the wall and the fact it helped win the election. Trump campaigned about wanting to build a wall, nearly 2,000 miles long on the Mexican-US border, and bragged about how Mexico will pay for it. By stoking fear and anger toward the exaggerated criminality of illegal immigrants, he rallied his base of supporters defeating Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College vote, although she won the popular vote by current projections approaching two million.
Regarding the wall, Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto politely yet firmly said that “Trump knows that I was emphatic to affirm that Mexico would not pay by any means for the wall.” Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said, “I’m not going to pay for that fucking wall!” Trump is perhaps either ignorant, dismissive, and/or supportive of what the Berlin Wall meant to Germany. Trump’s wall along the Mexican border would imprison America into an Iron Curtain of hatred, xenophobia, and racism the likes witnessed through the sufferings of the 1940s. Yet, Trump campaigned while talking about getting some “bad hombres” out of the country and insulting millions. Lee, in an article for the Washington Post entitled Donald Trump’s False Comments Connecting Mexican Immigrants and Crime quotes Trump:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best… They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
He has been equally bigoted against Muslims. While campaigning, Trump expressed his plan to register all Muslims, including going into Mosques and anywhere needed to do so. He also announced that he would ban immigration from Muslim countries, including Syrian refugees escaping one of the worst wars currently being waged on the planet. Millions of Muslim Americans contribute to this country, native and immigrant. When Trump defended his campaign idea of a Muslim ban, he praised Franklin D. Roosevelt by saying “Take a look at presidential proclamations, what he was doing with Germans, Italians and Japanese, because he had to do it.” Earle explains this in Trump’s Defense of Muslim Ban: I’m No Different From FDR. Under FDR during the war, the military detained and interrogated these people. With the Japanese, during WWII they were forced into relocation in internment camps. Even Franklin Roosevelt’s granddaughter denounced Trump with the following words :
“For Donald Trump to cite my grandfather and internment as a defense of his own intolerant and divisive agenda is reprehensible. The internment of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II is a sad part of our history and, as a part of my grandfather’s administration, a terrible political decision driven by fear… As a nation, internment weakened us all. It is a tragic reminder of what happens when we allow fear and hysteria to trump our values… Internment was wrong then and any effort to discriminate against a group of people based on their race or religion is wrong today.”
Many of us, to ease our own fears about what Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric could do to the country have begun to try to see him in a more governance and presidential way leading up to inauguration. However, this becomes difficult when we judge Trump by his Cabinet selections. The retired and disgraced Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will head the National Security Adviser. Flynn said that “Islam hates us,” “fear of Muslims is rational,” and called the religion a “malignant cancer that has metastasized”. This is stereotypical xenophobic rhetoric similar to Trump’s. Who would be better for NSA if Trump’s desire is to ban all Muslim, even children from war-torn Syria than Flynn? With a Commander-in-Chief who wants to use nuclear weapons, a National Security Advisor who clearly hates all Muslims and is a war expansionist, yes the world is far less safe today.
Mayors of “sanctuary cities” from coast to coast have made press conferences and statements that they would not support a Trump administration agenda on mass deportation of Mexicans. Many have denounced Trump’s islamophobia and hatred. The streets of the country are being shaken by protests. While these actions were well received in the immigrant communities and those bent on fighting Trump to the end, xenophobia and racism will still reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Trump and his administration members have drawn battle lines against diversity and democracy. Those who love the freedom and uplift of all people must get ready to fight back.
Failing Upwards and Corporate Incompetence
I make a prediction here, one that others have made as well. My prediction is based on a slightly different approach, a theory actually. Failing upwards means that some individuals or businesses make profit and investment from their loss. However, as Kate Losse explains in The Art of Failing Upward in the New York Times (2016), failing up works when you have the right safety nets to do so. Donald Trump has been incompetent and has failed up his entire life. He has failed up into the presidency of the United States. Judging from the popular vote and the world’s reaction, everyone knows that Trump is a failure except Trump and his supporters. However, my theory is that unless and until a very heartbreaking and very humbling event or events happen in the failure-upper’s life, they will not and do not become competent and compliant with practices, regulations, behavior, and laws that led to success. Either one or two things will happen to the person who continues the fail up. One – they will stay the course. Two – they will hit a wall when the safety net runs out. Trump’s father rescued him from business failures. The banks rescued him from business failure after his father’s death. The Electoral College rescued Trump from a lost election. As the POTUS, Trump’s safety nets for failing up has run out.
The other way to view Trump is as a corporation. Corporations are successful when they are productive, but also when they follow laws, regulations, and best practices. Now, what makes corporations fail? When corporations lack transparency, are not diverse or inclusive of ideas and values, and engage in conflicts-of-interest, they do not succeed. Trump is already not transparent with the press. He will likely not be transparent as needed in office. The tentacles of his businesses and overseas dealings are treasure troves of conflict-of-interest, especially if his children take over his financial operations. Additionally, Trump thinks he’s above the law. Trump has all of the ingredients brewing for a failed corporation, but with the POTUS, it’s called impeachment.
My prediction is that Donald Trump will be forced to resign as president or face impeachment for some form of incompetence or violations of laws and regulations. He has failed up his entire life and has yet to have his great humbling. He still believes that manipulation or self-aggrandizement will find his way out of failures. This was the case as the son of a wealthy businessman or a businessman himself with banks figuring that they could profit from his loss. Trump failing up has reached an end as he takes office as the president. He will not run the office of the presidency any different from his own businesses and his campaign. The odds of him being impeached or resigning are higher than any incoming president in modern history, including Richard Nixion. Hopefully, as we brace for the unexpected and unpredictable, before the foreseeable removal of Trump from office, he will not take the nation or other countries down with him as he fails.
Donald Trump’s election to the office of the presidency is a dark era unfolding in America. We cannot negotiate bigotry and racism with the ideals of democracy, freedom, and decency. While Trump won over millions of Americans by proclaiming he would build a wall on the Mexican border to block out our southern neighbors, Canada our northern neighbors had declared they would lift visa requirements and give Mexicans pathways to citizenship. Donald Trump’s abnormal behavior was normalized before the public during the campaign. I could not help but think of how lynch mobs would hang innocent Blacks from trees, take pictures, keep severed body parts for souvenirs and send post cards of violent lynchings to family members across the country via mail delivery. I could not help but think of how Adolph Hitler was a hero to many Germans, a messiah even who spoke of protecting Germany, pride and honor – before the Holocaust. Donald Trump, a hero to many has abnormal behavior which has been normalized by the media and his followers, but experts and associates had described him as sociopathic and/or psychopathic. As we brace for the “unpredictable,” let us pray, protest, and fight to prevent the potential sufferings that Trump can bring upon the US or other nations. Let all who believe that protest and struggle against hatred and bigotry helped make America a better country dig our trenches and bunker for not only the future of this country but the world.
About the author:
Mukasa Afrika Ma’at holds a Bachelor of Arts in Black Studies from CSU. He earned a Master of Science in Education Administration from GMU and a Master of Arts in Inner-City Studies Educational Leadership from NEIU. He is an historian, author, blogger, and poet. He has done critical essays on Black Leadership, politics, and culture along with extensive research and essays on Afrikan-Centered education. Mukasa Ma’at is a Black Belt martial arts instructor who developed and founded Ma’at-Sumu, a full mixed-martial arts combat system. He has been a teacher and education administrator of Afrikan-Centered schools. He has supported Afrikan-Centered schools and CIBI. Recently, he founded the International Black Independent School Organization (NBIO). He is an education advocate for poor children and blogs on funding equity and access globally. He is presently working on his doctoral studies in education at GMU with his dissertation on rites of passage.