By Ernie McCray
I keep hearing that Donald Trump is appealing to angry white men and I say, of course he is. He’s an angry white man. Who else is he going to appeal to?
Truth is, though, a lot of those angry white men should be angry with themselves for supporting and voting for people who mean them absolutely no good, politicians who do nothing to better their lives. People who, in actuality, do all they can to see that the president doesn’t help them either.
But, anyway, those aren’t the angry white men this writing is about. It’s those out-and-out racist angry white men I see on TV at Trump’s rallies who’ve captured my attention. I’ve spent a month short of 78 years dealing with angry white men like them and they make me jumpy, to say the least.
They are angry, like so many of their ancestors, at the very thought of people who are darker than them being equal to them.
They would have been very agreeable with the way race relations used to be. They would have loved George Wallace with his “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” wishes and dreams. They’d find scriptures to rationalize: the lynchings; the burnings; the bombings; the disenfranchising; the beatings; the mobbings; the siccing of the dogs; the flushing of the firehoses; the tarring and feathering; the laws that made mockeries of equality for all …
But in their era in the country’s evolvement a man hasn’t been able to boldly vent his anger the way it was done in the “Good Old Days.” And over the last few decades other than instigating an atrocity or two here or there, every now and then, Trump’s angry white men have resided in the world of the silent majority wherein they’ve: seethed at the sights of mosques being built; cringed as Chicano and African American families moved in next door or down the street from them; pouted at the very notion of affirmative action; swooned when the confederate flag was lowered and removed; cursed the “political correctness” that has caused them to hold their pent up feelings in.
And then along comes Donald Trump, running for the top office in the land, rhapsodizing about his dick and his hands, talking “Yo mama” trash like a junior high bully, saying what the angry white men I’m referring to have held close to their hearts for years. He lessens their fears. Tells them it’s all right to let off a little steam and kick a little ass, lamenting in prime time that “nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.” That has got to be absolutely the last thing they need to hear.
They/we are not served by a man who would-be president who speaks of his dissenters as the reason America is not only no longer great but weak.
Trump takes them/us down a perilous road when he pines for days when noisy demonstrators would be carried out of a political rally on stretchers and says: “If you see someone getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Knock the hell out of them. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.”
When he says of a protestor “I’d like to punch him in the face” someone just might, as one of his supporters did, sucker-punch a black protestor and then declare “Next time we see him, we might have to kill him.” Is that not chilling to the bone?
Sights at his rallies are nothing short of frightening and obscene: a young black woman being surrounded and shoved aggressively; a black man being tackled, then punched and kicked by a group of men as he curled up on the ground; immigration activists being shoved and stripped of their signs; a Latino being knocked down and kicked; “White power” and “Go back to Africa” sentiments being yelled in the ruckus.
Our very history tells us that there’s no limit to the harm angry white men such as these can cause in our society when they’re incited and emboldened, when they feel that their actions are condoned.
I know. I remember some angry white men who set a house on fire with me and my mom and our cousin in it because it wasn’t frowned upon to do such a thing when a black person moved into a white neighborhood in Detroit, at that time, back in ’49.
Trump is opening up avenues leading to outrages similar to that as he openly and proudly speaks to getting rid of immigrants and Muslims and building walls to keep Mexicans and Central Americans from coming to our country. “Black Lives Matter,” doesn’t resonate with him.
Trump’s followers have been like a smoldering campfire and here he comes with a can of gasoline.
But this angry white man along with the angry white men he has so inspired are offering us Americans an opportunity to decide whether we want to stay fixed on a path of distrusting and pulling away from each other based on our colors and beliefs or come together in all our diversity and create a true democracy where all lives are respected.
Our children are watching. How we respond to the challenges Donald Trump has laid before us will be critical to how they get along down the line. Our greatest gift to them during these horribly troubling times would be to crush this man at the polls if he becomes a candidate for the presidency.
We’ve got a lot of work to do with no time to waste in getting started.