Columnist Joe Gannon writes President Trump on behalf of a grateful nation

  • President Donald Trump speaks about tax reform at the Andeavor Mandan Refinery on Wednesday in Mandan, N.D.  AP FILE PHOTO

Friday, September 08, 2017

Dear President Trump,

I want to say thank you. You probably don’t hear that much from folks like me, but I mean it — thank you.

Thank you for stirring the pot of race and racial resentment in this county. You have brought into the light the dirty little secret racism had become. It was President Reagan in the 1980s — and the Reagan GOP — that taught white America the “dog whistle” of race. America had learned not to say the N-word (at least in public, and later, on social media) and replaced it with “welfare cheat,” “super predator,” and “thug.” All the while patting itself on the back over its linguistic color blindness, while passing draconian drug and three-strikes laws that would devastate communities of color for 20 years.

Ronald Reagan had — quite cynically — declared racism over in America because we gave Martin Luther King Jr. his own holiday. It was an insanely insincere idea, but it gave white resentment shade to hide in. You, President Trump, have dragged all that ugly history, pained psychology and poisoned rhetoric back into the light. I thank you for that.

You have made the alt-right a permanent part of our public speech, and in the future, the challenge. “But Mr. Senator, the alt-right supports your policy” will dog every elected GOP congressman or woman.

Despite the perfunctory protestations of Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and the Republican National Committee, you have hung the mantle of the alt-right around the neck of the GOP like it was a pointy white hat on their heads.

You have dragged all of our unwashed racial sins out into the open.

I thank you for that.

I thank you for blowing — on at least three occasions — your response to the deadly demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia. Prior to that, the movement to remove Confederate statues had floundered somewhat in the minds of white people, flopping between the poles of history vs. racism. You have forever changed that for many middling, mainstream Americans. The dispatching of Confederate monuments has — finally! — begun the reassessment of what the Civil War meant and was actually about: slavery and its continuing racist aftermath.

The alt-right dead-enders — the white nationalists, racists and Nazis — who “Hallelujahed!” your election, thought they’d got a second lease on life, a new legitimacy with one of their own right there in the White House. They came out of the woodwork into the light to proudly display their bigotry at “free- speech” rallies — and they are being beaten back at every turn.

You, Mr. President, have taught us that no matter how many of them show — a few or millions — we must fight them, on the street. We must answer their every public display with an overpowering show of, not love, but resistance.

I thank you for that.

You have given progressives a dog-whistle litmus test — every candidate in blue, purple, or even some red districts, must now answer — in this new alt-right context — if they support the removal of Confederate statues.

Thank you for that wedge issue.

Thank you for banning transgendered people from the military. This will cause no small pain for those transgendered soldiers and sailors now serving, and to those who might want to. But by trying to “fix a problem” that did not exist, you have set yourself, and the haters who love you, against our military establishment.

Because you know so little, because you misprize knowledge above all else, you do not realize that the military these days cares for nothing but “mission readiness.” The Pentagon and Joint Chiefs of Staff had already determined that transgendered people did not imperil mission readiness, so while they will obey your order, they will reverse that order at the first possible opportunity.

Can you hear it? “Mr. Senator, as the Pentagon opposes banning transgendered people from the military, if you get the GOP nomination will you reverse President Trump’s order?”

Thank you for anther wedge issue in the next election.

Thank you for pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Arizona (mis)lawman who was convicted, basically, for hunting illegal immigrants and refusing to stop when ordered to by a federal court. Arpaio is the (white) face of resistance to the inevitable demographic shift of America from a Caucasian nation into a Hispanic-majority one. Your pardoning of the most egregious leader of that anti-Latino faction will ensure that Hispanics — even those fiscally and socially conservative — will vote in vast majorities for the Democratic Party for the foreseeable future.

Thank you for ending the DACA “dreamers” program, meant to give some protected status to the most deserving people one can imagine – those brought here illegally as children, yet who have made the most of themselves as Americans through their own effort. This move was so cruel, that even the GOP establishment opposes it. You have driven a poisoned wedge in the Republican Party between its leadership and its white base, which will play out nicely in GOP primaries all over the country, ensuring the most extreme elements continue to attach themselves to the party you yourself took over.

So, thank you President Trump. Your chaotic leadership is not so much like a bull in a china shop, as an aardvark ripping open termite mounds, spilling the quivering, ugly mass into the open for all to see — and recoil at.

After eight years of our first black president — and all the bogus bromides about post-racial America — you have single-handedly pinned the American body politic to the ground, sliced open its belly and pulled out the ugly malignancy of racism and racial resentment that lies at America’s very core.

Your supporters are cheering, but the rest of the country is, like, “Ewww!”

I don’t believe, Mr. President, that you are some freakish mutation, but rather the inevitable, evolutionary outcome of 25 years of the GOP’s war on civility, on knowledge, on rational discourse. The GOP will try to disavow your presidency, but your every misstep, misdeed, executive order and outrage we will pin to the backside of every conservative candidate for years to come.

So, thank you. Thank you for waking us the hell up.

Sincerely yours,

Joe Gannon

P.S. As I am grateful to you, please accept some advice from a well-wisher: Do keep tweeting whatever thoughts occur to you at whatever time of day. And let me thank you, in advance, for firing special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Joe Gannon of Northampton, is a novelist and teacher. He can be reached at opinion@gazettenet.com.