Nydia Lissman-Pieczanski MD helped inspire the themes of this blog.
On September 3, Donald Trump went to a black church in Detroit. It was the first black church he went to, after 15 months of campaigning for President. Great Faith International Ministries was graced by his presence for a few minutes. He read a speech he said was from his "heart," beginning with the sentence "for centuries the African-American Church has been the conscience of our country."
That single act says more about Trump's attitude toward minorities than all his previous racist epithets. It threw months of neglect into bold relief, casting light on his empty gestures. He showed us all that he sees African-Americans as gullible, ignorant, mindless, and willing to accept whatever crumbs he offers.
Earlier that week, on Wednesday, Trump flew to Mexico to meet with their president for a few hours says. That gesture was part of the same picture, this time about what thinks of immigrants, of brown-skinned people. He assumes that he can seduce those whom he already sees as virtually worthless (votes are their only value). He portrays Latin and African-American minorities as hopeless victims of Democratic failures, and offers them the chance to become his child number 5. He thinks that he can fill their emptiness with bread and circus, and thereby assuage their despair about their economic and social hardship.
He made those gestures twice in the same week, getting them out of the way before the campaign heats up after Labor Day.
Will a majority of Americans buy into this image of Trump? Is it really a good dad who only checks in on his kids after having been away, enthusiastically offering them a hot fudge sundae? Will we - all of us - fall for his empty promises?
Immediately after his visit to Mexico, Trump began his anti-immigration rants, undermining the effort he just had made to seem compassionate and presidential. He almost prefers to set one abused group of people against the other, rekindling the hatred felt by those neglected native-born whites against brown-skinned immigrants. One way to power is to pit one oppressed group against another.
If his tactics get him elected, it will be a sad day for America, and not simply because Trump is incompetent, venomous, or impulsive. A Trump presidency would devastate America's promise, values, and place in the world. We would be revealed to others, and ultimately to ourselves, as a tragic nation.