Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Not Your Friends

The headline on a Fox News story reads "Mark Meadows stays neutral in Trump, Cummings feud: 'neither man is a racist'" and writer Danielle Wallace writes "Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., refused to take sides in the ongoing feud between President Trump and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-M.D., Monday, concluding that 'neither man is a racist.'”

So the question to Fox News is "who is the bigger racist- Mark Meadows or Elijah Cummings?"

It should be obvious to anyone not sucked in to the Stepford-like Trump orbit that this formulation is neither fair nor objective, given that only one human being (assuming that is an accurate description) ever has accused Elijah Cummings of being racist, and that with no evidence.

Michael Warren notes that after Donald Russia disparaged the congressman on Twitter

Trump's comments hung in the air for days, sparking yet another conversation about the President's race-focused rhetoric. Republicans largely stayed silent, including Meadows, whose warm relationship with Cummings prompted questions about his reticence to defend his friend.

When Meadows finally did issue a reply, it came two days later and second-hand, delivered live on air by CNN contributor and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. The statement was a perfect distillation of the way Republicans have tip-toed around Trump's inflammatory language about race -- and avoided criticizing the President directly.

"No one works harder for his district than Elijah. He's passionate about the people he represents, and no, Elijah is not a racist," Santorum read aloud. The statement also absolved the President of being a racist and included a promise by Meadows to "go to Baltimore with President Trump to see what they could do to remediate some of the problems they have there."

Similarly, Robert Costa reveals that when Mitt Romney was asked "whether he condemns the president statement on Cummings or supports it, he would not answer. Asked the question twice. When asked more generally about the Cummings-Trump matter, he called it 'political theater.'”

It may be too much to expect Meadows, Romney, and other Republicans to criticize Trump. When the President was accused by Michael Cohen in February during a House Ways and Means Committee of being "a racist," Representative Meadows pointed to a black woman, Housing and Urban Development official Lynne Patton, as proof that Trump was no such thing. Representatives Ayanna Presley and Rashida Tlaib objected to this approach to racism, and Tlaib referred to use of Patton as a "prop." 

At the time, I posted two videos of Representative Meadows, once stating  "2012 is the time we're going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is" and at another time "we'll send him back to Kenya, or wherever it is." (He likes "wherever it is..)"  He did not say this in a drunken stupor to a friend in a bar. It was in public.

Though Meadows is a birther, committee chairperson Cummings responded to the criticism by Pressley and Tlaib by riding to his friend's rescue, stating

Mr. Meadows, you know, and of all the people on this committee, I've said it and gotten in trouble for it- that you're one of my best friends. I know that shocks a lot of people... And I can see and feel your pain. I feel it.

Five months later, we have Meadows vouching for Cummings by suggesting that he is no more a racist than is Donald Trump, a remark which has received disturbingly little criticism from members of the other party, let alone Republicans. 

There are two morals of the story, neither of which many Democrats will pick up on. 

Not only did Cummings attest to his friendship with Meadows in February, the latter defended his exploitation of- uh, er reference to- Patton by asserting  "There’s nothing more personal to me than my relationship — my nieces and nephews are people of color...."

I then maintained

racially-biased whites can have black friends. A 2009 Pew survey found that 86% of whites, as noted here,  "who think that most blacks aren’t intelligent, law-abiding, honest, hard-working and/or generous have African American friends."

Democrats (and centrists, the media, and others) have to stop assessing tolerance by the quota method. Decades ago, it was "some of my best friends are colored." It now has been replaced by "my nieces and nephews are people of color" or "half the people in my administration/in my campaign/on my staff are "people of color." (The symmetry between "people of color" and "colored." may be less ironic than it seems.) It's also "look at my African-American friend over there."

Additionally, Democrats need to understand that when Republican politicians tell them privately that they don't like President Trump, are uncomfortable with his latest tweet, or have doubts about the President's latest appointment, they are lying or simply won't turn personal misgivings into action. It makes little difference; the Democrats are being played.

They won't be there when it matters, as Mark "neither man is a racist" Meadows has demonstrated.

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