The picture on the left ran on the nightly news of February 2, 1968. I was watching the telecast and eating supper. As the gun went off and the kid’s head exploded on the screen, I jumped up from the table, ran into the bathroom and the entire meal came up.
This picture made Americans realize that the President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, had been lying about the war in Viet Nam. We weren’t there to protect democracy. Our troops were fighting and dying over there so that a South Vietnamese army general could pull out a handgun and shoot an accused terrorist dead right in the middle of the street.
The picture on the right played on worldwide social media on May 25. It will do to Donald Trump what the picture on the left did to LBJ. It will remove from everybody’s mind the idea that Trump deserves to be taken seriously at all.
My dear, late friend Jimmy Breslin used to say that the worst crime a politician could commit was to be a bore. Maybe that was true in Jimmy’s day when we got our news from print newspapers, radio, and TV. Now we get our news from social media, and on social media the worst crime a politician can commit is to behave without any class.
When Trump started ranting, raving, cursing, and delivering virtually every Presidential statement with a mixture of insults, false bravado, belligerence, and profanity worthy of someone sitting on a barstool in Richmond Hill, Queens, his performances were so different from every other politician that we were totally and completely shocked beyond belief.
It wasn’t so much what he said that got him endless media attention that he didn’t deserve, it was the way he said it. But the way he responded to the murder of George Floyd has brought that performance to an end. He initial response to Floyd’s murder was, for him, an uncharacteristic display of concern, calling the assault a “very shocking sight.” But did he show up at Floyd’s funeral in Houston last week? He didn’t even consider whether or not he should attend. He was probably too busy planning his big, MAGA rally in Tulsa, which was originally scheduled for June 19th, a.k.a. Juneteenth, a day that is celebrated as the day slavery came to an end.
How did Trump acknowledge announce that his rally would be shifted to another day? Here was his tweet: “Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out of respect for this Holiday and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents.”
His many African American friends? Does that group include the five kids whose false convictions for raping a jogger in Central Park stuck them in jail for fifteen years and provoked Trump to take out full-page ads calling for them to be executed? Do his Black ‘friends’ include the Black guy who Trump pointed to at a campaign rally in 2016 and referred to him as “my African-American?”
Want class? Here’s class: “You ain’t Black if you vote for Trump.” And despite how a few rent-a-Black noisemakers for Trump went after Joe for saying what he said, his comment showed that he understands racism in this country in a way that Trump not only doesn’t understand it, but contributes to its survival virtually every, single day.
I really believed that America finally moved beyond the curse of slavery when we elected Barack Obama in 2008, an election which now seems to have occurred eons ago. I was wrong. All that really happened was that overt appeals to racism slid beneath the surface for a few years until they were rejuvenated by Trump.
Which is why his crime of being someone without any class is much worse than anything he did in The Ukraine, or in Russia, or anywhere else. And the one way we can punish him for this crime is to dump him by voting early and often later this year.
Thanks to the comment I received from a friend the other day, I have decided to stop referring to Trump in any way other than by his proper name. Because I don’t want to be seen by anyone as lacking the class that the current President lacks.