Donald Trump, an enlarged brick of spittle-flecked Crisco sliding headlong towards the White House, told the Associated Press a number of very stupid things in a Monday interview. Among them: Black Lives Matter is a “divisive” movement, and perhaps racist, because “all lives matter.” If black people feel unfairly targeted by police, Trump added, there’s a simple solution: “We have to talk to ‘em and we have to build up the spirit.”
Much like a nightmare version of Tom Hanks in Big, Trump has found himself involved in a big-boy conversation about race and oppression in America, one he’s ill-equipped to handle. In a speech yesterday, he declared himself the “law and order candidate.” But he also wants to appear sympathetic to the concerns of black Americans who are tired of being murdered by cops, which is why he released a clueless and factually wrong statement about the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling last week.
In talking to the AP, he tried to find some balance between the two. It went badly. Trump thinks maybe police killing black Americans is about... I dunno... jobs?
“I thought they were horrible, horrible to witness,” Trump said. “Whether that’s a lack of training or whatever, but I thought they were two incidents that were absolutely horrible to witness. At the same time, our country is losing its spirit. African-Americans are absolutely losing their spirit.”
Trump framed that issue in largely economic terms, blaming the mood of the nation’s black community on high unemployment and low wages.
“Jobs can solve so many problems,” he said. “And we’re going to open our country up and we’re going to be a huge jobs producer again instead of having terrible jobs.
“Our good jobs are going away, they’re going away from this country,” he added. “We’re going to open our country up again for great jobs where people can make terrific livings and be happy.”
But also maybe black people need to... cheer up?
Asked specifically what he would say to African-Americans who feel targeted by police because of their race, Trump said, “We have to talk to ‘em and we have to build up the spirit.”
He added: “We have to talk with the police. And we have to get people to really get along. People are not getting along in this country. We are in a divided country.”
But also the killing of five police officers in Dallas by a 25-year-old ex-military sniper, the protests in a number of American cities over police killings, all that is “just the beginning:”
“When President Obama said the other day that he doesn’t think it’s as bad as people think, I think it’s far worse and certainly far worse than he believes it is,” Trump said. “We are in a divided nation. I looked two nights ago and you were having trouble in 11 different cities, big, big trouble. And the press actually plays it down.
“I mean, you were having big, big trouble in many cities. And I think that might be just the beginning for this summer.”
Trump also agreed with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s assessment that Black Lives Matter is “inherently racist,” as Giuliani put it in a Fox News appearance over the weekend. Said Trump: ““A lot of people agree with that. A lot of people feel that it is inherently racist. And it’s a very divisive term. Because all lives matter. It’s a very, very divisive term.”
The worst thing about this, besides every word out of Trump’s mouth: This is never going to end. Whether he’s is elected or not, we’re now, as a country, asking Donald Trump serious questions about matters of huge societal import. We’re going to be treated to these muddled half-thoughts about race, class and justice in America forever, until the day the Earth hurtles into the sun.
Trump at a light bulb factory in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 30. Photo via AP