We can celebrate America's birthday: celebrating America is a little harder these days.
Recently Lindsey Graham asserted that Joe Biden did not have a racist bone in his body. Even though our racist president says the same thing about himself, in this case Senator Graham is right. Joe Biden has campaigned for civil rights most of his life. There have been glitches and hesitancies and poor choices of words, but his reputation is objectively sound.
Even so, the residue of racism remains extant in his generation. That doesn’t make him a bad man. Or an antiquarian. It doesn't mean he's lost step with the times. And it certainly—in the age of Trump—would not disqualify him from the presidency. The bar no longer rises that high. But there are forces at play that are beyond Joe Biden's control, beyond mine, beyond that of most of us in Biden’s generation; and those forces center on race.
For many of us growing up after WWII, during the the Cold War, in the incipient days of school desegregation, we learned civil rights—we listened to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. and disabused ourselves of old prejudices. The following generation, unburdened by ingrained prejudice, found the process easier; for today's young people the process has reached fruition. Sure there are youth today as bigoted and ignorant as our forebears, but other than those who waddle into Trump rallies and buy a hat, they seem to be in the minority.
The residual racism resides, therefore, in people of Biden's generation. Many of them, like Biden, are not the slightest bit racist, but though we can unlearn many false ideas, we can’t always erase them. Thus it's time to hand over the keys, to say thank you to the lifelong politicians who have devoted their lives to this country and suggest that they enjoy their retirement. Like us.
We need new leadership. We need people in power who will look at what's happening at our southern border and stop it. Not write letters of reprimand or form committees or express concern. Just STOP it before more people die, before more are traumatized, and before we look like the countries we used to condemn for acts like this: North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia—all of whose leaders Trump admires.
And Trump himself—he is not up to this task. His patriotism and love of country begin and ends with the flag on his lapel. Everything else is ego and self-aggrandizement, rooted in a history of bigotry and prejudice, of misogyny and xenophobia. A leader of the purported "greatest country in the world" would be at that border screaming bloody murder and guaranteeing the safety of everyone—migrants and workers alike. There'd be truckloads of food and supplies rolling in on the august and direct orders of the President of the United States. We've seen it in the past: Bush on 9/11, Obama on the Jersey Shore. Instead we have a horse's ass ordering 70-year-old tanks into the nation's capital. Trump is not up to this: he reached the limits of his empathy last fall when, tramping through a burned out California community, he suggested more leaf-raking.
All of which brings me—in a very circuitous way—to Godwin's Law. It's been getting a lot of ink these days, that belief that as a debate progresses, it becomes inevitable that someone would draw a comparison to another Hitler or to the Nazis. It's become a meme, and as such something that lacks due seriousness. Further, invoking the term concentration camp holocaust has been viewed as disrespecting the various holocausts of World War II that took upwards of 80 million lives.
But if concentration camp is apt, then let's use it, and let that be the enduring image of the Trump reign.
We now have, within our borders, concentration camps with which the president and his party seem to have no real issue. And here, on the day before America's birthday, that same president is planning a multimillion-dollar party to showcase America's might. Maybe he thinks that a show of weapons built before most American were born will precent attacks on Washington, D.C.
For once he may be right. The epicenter of moral degradation and its imbecile caretaker are safe for the foreseeable future.