Saturday, January 21, 2017

Is this what we’ve come to, America? - Note for a discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"

Dana Milbank, Washington Post


President Trump had yet another chance to affirm national unity in his inaugural address Friday, and yet again he went the other way, delivering a modified version of his campaign speech, angry and divisive.
Yet again, he divided the United States into us vs. them. “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” he said. “The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs.”
Trump made only a feint toward unity, admonishing the crowd, almost all white, to remember that “whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.” He proposed that a “new national pride” would “heal our divisions.”
Yet he furthered those divisions by proposing “total allegiance to the United States” — as if this weren’t previously the standard — and by saying Americans had been “forgotten” and “ignored” by those who led the country, leaders who left “children trapped in poverty . . . rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones . . . students deprived of all knowledge . . . the crime and the gangs and the drugs . . . American carnage.”
American carnage! Even the heavens seemed sad. The moment Trump began his address, the skies opened and plastic ponchos unfurled.
Inaugurations are designed to build national unity, packed with national symbols and rituals: the Marine band and buglers, the historic flags draped from the Capitol, the 21-gun salute, the Ruffles and Flourishes. Before the proceedings, John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address played on the giant screens: “We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the master of ceremonies, mentioned two other inaugural addresses that appealed to national unity: Thomas Jefferson’s in 1801 (“We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists”) and Abraham Lincoln’s in 1865 (“With malice toward none, with charity for all”).
But Trump, pumping his fists and flashing thumbs-up, continued to drive the same wedge through the nation that he did throughout the campaign. “You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” he told his supporters. ...

No comments: