By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editor, [email protected]
This year, the annual holiday tradition of having Christmas dinner in Northwest Baltimore with my dear friend Lisa Respers-France and her family came a couple of days early. Nevertheless, Ms. Pat (Lisa’s Mom) has not lost an epicurean step; on the contrary, she actually stepped up her dessert game, which actually seemed implausible.
Dinner with Lisa, her husband Terry and the Respers clan, always brings me tribal comfort and joy we all could use, especially around this time of year. But, for me it also marks a time to reflect on the year that is quickly coming to an end.
To state the obvious, 2018 has been quite a year and I’m emotionally exhausted.
At the end of 2017, as I reviewed the first year of Donald John Trump’s reign of terror, who knew 2018 would get worse? But, is there really any doubt that it did? When State TV (also known as Fox News) begins to turn on Trump you know things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse for the 45th president. Last week, we witnessed Brian Kilmeade, a member of the often obtuse “Fox and Friends” morning show (probably the most Trump friendly program on Fox), aggressively criticize Trump’s erratic and widely panned announced withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. On Dec. 21, Kilmeade went in on Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, White House spokesperson (perhaps the most mendacious press secretary in U.S. history), regarding Trump’s latest foreign policy folly.
Kilmeade: “Sarah, he’s giving Russia a big win, Vladimir Putin praised him. He is also doing exactly what he criticized President Obama for doing. He said President Obama is the founder of ISIS. He just re-founded ISIS, because they’ve got 30,000 men there and they’re already striking back with our would-be evacuation. The president…is really on the griddle with this.”
Sanders: “Brian, I, I, I, would have to respectfully and vehemently disagree with you. The idea that the president has had anything to do with helping ISIS re-emerge is absolutely outrageous.”
Kilmeade: “Leaving is helping, leaving is helping.”
The imminent U.S. military withdrawal from Syria is what allegedly triggered last week’s resignation in protest of Gen. James Mattis, U.S. Secretary of Defense. Mattis was the one man in the Trump administration that allegedly allowed a large swath of the Republican establishment to “sleep well at night.” Well, with the departure of Mattis, a living legend in military circles, restful sleep has been replaced by gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands by GOP traditionalists. Mattis’ resignation letter, a metaphorical middle finger to the 45th president also serves as a dire warning to our country and the rest of the world of the looming menace of Trump untethered.
I could fill 10 weeks worth of this column chronicling Trump’s catastrophic second year. But, forget Helsinki, forget Cohen and forget Mueller, for me 72 hours in October of 2018 captured the essence of Trump’s wretchedness.
On Oct. 24, a White man with a history of violence gunned down two Black people at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky. He had earlier attempted to storm into a nearby Black church apparently to massacre parishioners, a la Dylan Roof, who butchered those nine beautiful people at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. in South Carolina, in June 2015.
On Oct. 26, another White man, a Trump zealot was captured after sending dozens of mail bombs to Trump enemies, including the Obamas, the Clintons and CNN. Two of those bombs were sent to the offices of CNN in New York and the headquarters in Atlanta, where my dear friend Lisa Respers, who is a senior writer for CNN’s entertainment team operates from. During those harrowing hours when CNN was literally under the threat of attack Trump’s mantra that the press is the “enemy of the people” became even more personal and perilous for me. Thank God none of those bombs detonated.
Tragically, the morning of Oct. 27, 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., were not as fortunate. A third White man, a virulent anti-Semite, also filled with hatred for immigrants stormed into that house of God and slaughtered 11 worshippers. It was the worst act of anti-Semitic violence in American history.
In two years, Trump has provided overwhelming empirical evidence he is manifestly incompetent at governance. However, during the same span he has exhibited great prowess at supercharging the American landscape with fear and loathing.
Hopefully, prayerfully, 2019 will truly mark the beginning of the end of Trump’s American carnage and in the words of former President Gerald Ford on August 9, 1974, “Our long national nightmare is over.”
Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.