I was in the car for a drive this evening as Donald Trump took to the airwaves from the Oval Office. Trump was not more than a minute or so into his prepared remarks when he uttered a phrase that made me hold the steering wheel tighter. Trump spoke of the health threat we face coming from a “foreign virus”. I looked at the radio computerized dial and just could not fathom that I had heard it correctly.
I was stunned that Trump would allow his xenophobia to even be inserted into this crisis. I wanted to yell that viruses do not have a nationality but held back as I did not want to miss his heavy and labored breathing, and whatever else he had to say. (Listening to the radio for such events is something I much prefer as it allows for a different tone to be gathered from a speech. But I must say Trump’s nasal contortions were nauseating.)
The racism from Trump was most disturbing, and while certainly not a new thing, sends a message that even in a time of crisis Trump can not rise to the level of credibility and behavior that we are told the office forces the elected one to meet.
I know that my readers grasp the fact this is a global threat that can only be resolved by working with, and not against, all the other nations of the world. While listening to Trump it seemed he actually believes the ‘foreign virus‘ can be stopped from outside the country when it’s already here.
Banning European flights as the centerpiece of his speech was a strategic way to attempt to frame the virus as “foreign,” or “other,” or “not happening here.” This use of this plan is designed to make people who still don’t believe this is a serious virus–except that this virus is 10x more lethal than the flu-– to have people incorrectly conclude there is a way to keep it out of the country.
Historians will write of this night and this moment in our nation’s story. And it will be noted that at the time when events and time offered an opening for Trump to rise up to the office, he instead chose to remain a small, troubled, and divisive man.