Time to call out Trump

Time to call out Trump
  • PublishedApril 1, 2019

Donald Trump has clearly spelt out his racist views and seems to delight in insulting black people. He has emboldened white supremacists in their fascistic views. It is time we hit back in equal measure. By Baffour Ankomah

Now there is no doubt that Mr Donald John Trump, the 45th and current President of the US, has a problem with black people. It is therefore only right to draw him out into the open to have a mature discussion with him.

The man who once called us ‘shithole countries’ should therefore have the courage to come out and face the ‘shit’ queuing up to do battle with him. Since he uses colourful language about us, he should be prepared to receive the same measure he dishes out. This is the time for black people everywhere to wave the fist of resistance. Enough is enough.

But before I am carried away, let me go back in time. On 27 February 2019, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and one of his fiercest defenders, who worked with him on business and personal matters for 10 years, told the Congressional Oversight Committee that Trump “is a racist”, who once told him that black people were “too stupid” to vote for him.

This man has the cheek, my lord! He wants black people to vote for him, yet he insults them first. According to Cohen: “The country [he means the US] has seen Mr Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries shitholes. In private, he is even worse. He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole’. This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States.”

In effect, the US is a ‘shithole country’ itself. In fact, what else can that country be if it can vote in such a man as President? If Trump were African, they would say Africans are daft to have elected him. But he was elected by Americans! Anywhere else in the world, Trump’s type of species would not deserve to be a mayor, let alone the Head of State. That he was elected by Americans with their two eyes open shows the depth to which the once great, ‘God’s own country’ and its people have sadly sunk.

Don’t cry for America

But nobody should cry for them. If you plant maize, you reap maize, not plantain. So, as Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian Nobel laureate, said recently, “Americans have a right to lament their choice in the last election”, and I, this African from Ghana, say the Americans don’t deserve our help in their lament.

Rather, we have to agonise over the many insults Trump has thrown our way. As Cohen revealed before the congressional committee: “While we were once driving through a struggling neighbourhood in Chicago, he [Trump] commented that only black people could live that way. And he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid. And yet I continued to work for him.”

Poor Cohen. Perhaps a lawyer deserves the clients he gets, I suppose. For Cohen, it appears, bit off more than he could chew. “I am ashamed because I know what Mr Trump is,” he told the congressional committee. “He is a racist. He is a conman. And he is a cheat … I am ashamed of my own failings… I am ashamed of my weakness and my misplaced loyalty – of the things I did for Mr Trump in an effort to protect and promote him.”

Well, Cohen too reaps what he sows, does he not? He continued to work for Trump even though he knew that the man was all wrong. In fact, Cohen is not the only person who knew Trump was a racist. Our own Wole Soyinka cut up his green card when Trump was elected.

Soyinka told Henry Louis Gates Jr in an interview for The New Yorker last November: “… Let me put it quite bluntly. [Trump] is considered a loose cannon that is discharging long-hidden attitudes, racial attitudes, xenophobic attitudes … [He] came in on a platform of political, racial, and ideological hatred for Obama.

“He was not even subtle about his mission of dismantling the legacy of this black man … This is the first time I have seen an iconoclastic approach, pure negativity on its own as a purpose, as an ideology of an incoming president. It’s like telling Americans, ‘You people have been sold a dummy. I’m the authentic American and therefore I can do what I want.’”

When Gates asked Soyinka if it was accurate to say that Donald Trump was a racist, Soyinka’s answer flew out of his mouth: “Oh, yes, I believe so. I know that politicians can say or do anything, but at the same time, I find it totally diabolical that a dangerous weapon like racism can be used to ascend to office. Political racism is divisive. It’s used as a weapon deliberately to set one side against the other.

“Any head of state, even a minor elected officer, who can make statements about ‘shithole countries’ – and actually name them! – and who says, ‘But on the other hand, get me the blue-eyed Norwegians. I don’t mind them coming into the country… How much more racist can you get? How close to the pernicious doctrine of the blue-eyed Aryan ideal of humanity?” Soyinka added.

Gates then asked him: “You tore up your green card when you heard that Trump had been elected president. Why did you do that?” Soyinka replied: “Because I saw what was happening. And many people do not know how emotionally, not just historically or intellectually, attached I am to our diaspora.”

“To the African diaspora?” Gates asked again. Soyinka replied: “Yes, absolutely, the African diaspora, whether in the United States, the Caribbean, or even Iraq, where we’ve discovered the Zanj [a population of African slaves in what is now the territory of Iraq, who rebelled in 869 AD. They carved out an independent state for themselves and resisted reconquest until 883 AD].”

Reversal of the game

Soyinka went on: “The thrill of seeing a black man ascend to the highest position in this slave-culture nation was for me as good as watching the lift-off of a rocket into space. And so when I saw what looked like a reversal of the gains of the black diaspora, I became alarmed and despondent. I saw it coming, and I said, ‘If the Americans allow this to happen, this man spewing divisive and racist rhetoric, I’m going to reduce the status of my relationship to this nation.’ So it was not saying I was turning my back entirely on the United States. It was a statement of how I felt. In addition to cutting up the card, I went to the embassy.”

Soyinka spoke for most black people when he said: “The black revolution has not been for nothing, and I don’t want people to be as negative as that, but it’s always a shock when you witness American society succumbing to attempts to reinstate that execrable mentality. The number of unarmed black
people who are shot by the police, the generation of ‘I can’t breathe’, the shooting of that young man, Trayvon Martin, the killer acquitted in a court. There was a motion – I hate to use the word, but I’m sorry – that was a motion toward the lynching days, only by a different methodology.

“It was within this context that an aspirant to the highest office in the United States was elected, despite his racist rhetoric… And I know that even those who elected Trump will be asking themselves, what on earth did we think we were doing?”

Next month, we shall continue this Trump discussion. The best way to deal with a racist is to stand up to him. NA

Written By
Baffour Ankomah

Baffour Ankomah is New African's current Editor at Large. He has spent much of his 39 years of journalism at the magazine, having served as its Assistant Editor for 6 years, Deputy Editor for 5 years, and Editor for 15 years, retiring from active service in 2014. In 39 years of his journalism career - Africa and his many causes have been his passion. His personal column, Baffour's Beefs, which has been running continuously in New African since 1987, is a big hit and a must-read for the magazine's worldwide readers. He is now based in Zimbabwe, where he and his wife Elizabeth run their own media consultancy and fashion house called "African Interest" which trades under the trademark "I am African".

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