Tim Scott, the lone black Republican in the Senate, met in the Oval Office with Donald Trump on Wednesday as part of the president’s commitment to “positive race relations.” The meeting came about primarily as a reaction to Trump’s shameful analysis of the events in Charlottesville last month.
When asked afterwards if the president had expressed regret, Mr. Scott flashed a rueful smile and said, “He certainly tried to explain what he was trying to convey.”
Trump cannot express regret: to do so would involve an admission of wrongdoing or miscalculation, neither of which he considers even a remote possibility.
Senator Scott made a point of agreeing that there was antagonism on both sides during that August demonstration, but underscored the fact that one side comprised groups of avowed white supremacists, white nationalists, the KKK, and other assorted hate groups whose only raison d’être is to suppress and/or eradicate minorities and create social upheaval. To the senator’s reminder Trump announced, “That makes sense.” Later he suggested that he and the senator keep talking.
About what? This is not a debate in which both sides bring cogent arguments and an impartial referee decides the outcome. It’s the abridgment of rights vs. the Constitution: any president has decided the winner the minute he takes the oath of office.
Trump was, apparently, a good audience, and according to the senator, did very little talking himself. Maybe that’s a positive, but it’s also an indication that Trump doesn’t know anything about the racial divide or about what it means to a black American who hears his president defend white supremacists.
Which brings me to another black American, Jemele Hill. I’m not an ESPN geek, and I tend to watch the network’s live sports more than their endless list of “talk” shows. But I do watch “Around the Horn” and have some familiarity with Ms. Hill from when she appeared as a panelist.
I liked her well enough. She always seemed prepared and knowledgeable, and steered clear of rash or unsupportable statements. On Wednesday, though, she let her Twitter account get the best of her, tweeting “Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.”
ESPN spokespersons declared that Ms. Hill’s personal opinions do not reflect those of the network. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said the comments were a “fireable offense.” If they are, then perhaps the person for whom she speaks should be fired also, since Trump’s misogynistic and racist beliefs are well documented. Ms. Hill may have used poor judgment, but her assessment was spot on—little different from what most of us have been saying for the past two years.
Which brings me to Boston’s Fenway Park where last night some fans hung a banner over the “green monster,” reading “Racism is as American as Baseball.” At first some considered the sign racist, but the opposite was intended. A statement issued by the ejected fan read as follows:
White people need to wake up to this reality before white supremacy can truly be dismantled. We urge anyone who is interested in learning more or taking action to contact their local racial justice organization.
Remember how the Republicans refused to talk about racism during the last elections, how they kept saying it was a dead issue, that all the problems had been solved? Now it’s time to deal with two factors: the racial divide, and their leader’s unfathomable ignorance.