President Trump’s outrage is severely misdirected

Dear President Trump,

When you were sworn into office, you took an oath to protect all American people under the values of equality, justice, and freedom. This is an oath that you acknowledge in your address on June 1, “My first and highest duty as president is to defend our great country and the American people.”  Yet you clearly do not understand the demographics that comprise this  “American people” you refer to — you speak instead of protecting and prioritizing white lives as those apparently deserving of your attention.

Despite the hatred you have exhibited towards countless groups both preceding and throughout your presidency, your recent address still shocked me. I sit at my desk shaking, continually appalled by the blatant insensitivity and misunderstanding of real issues you continue to display.  We are outraged by the murder of George Floyd, but we are also outraged by the preconditions that permit prejudice, the systemic racism built into the infrastructure of this country.  

You spoke of the “riots” taking the country by storm and of your plan to put an effective end to them:

“I am mobilizing all available, federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting to end the destruction and arson and to protect the rights of law abiding Americans, including your second amendment rights… If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

You spoke openly about acts that outraged you:

“Innocent people have been savagely beaten like the young man in Dallas, Texas, who was left dying on the street or the woman in upstate New York, viciously attacked by dangerous thugs. Small business owners have seen the dreams utterly destroyed. New York’s finest have been hit in the face with bricks, brave nurses who have battled the virus are afraid to leave their homes. A police precinct has been overrun here in the nation’s Capital, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial have been vandalized. One of our most historic churches was set ablaze. A federal officer in California, an African American enforcement hero was shot and killed. These are not acts of peaceful protest, these are acts of domestic terror. The destruction of innocent life and the spilling of innocent blood is an offense to humanity and a crime against God.”

Where is your outrage at the countless black men and women who have been murdered in cold blood at the hands of those committed to civic duty?  Where is your outrage for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, or numerous lives that may have not garnered enough media attention and public pressure to demand your statement?  Where is your outrage at the systems that perpetuate inequality every day — from healthcare to education to every other facet of life that you and I have better access to, for no other reason than being white?

You are more concerned for the white lives affected by the protests than the preconditions that gave rise to the protests in the first place.  You are more devoted to a false sense of “order” than your duty to defend ALL lives.  You are demonstrating a commitment to norms that make you and your supporters feel comfortable, rather than pushing for something unknown — because, let’s face it, equality in this country is unknown.  It does not exist now and it did not exist during the times of slavery upon which our country was built.  Every single structure in this country has existed and continues to exist to serve certain groups above others, white lives above black lives.  

You performatively claim to understand the gravity of George Floyd’s tragic murder, as you performatively claim to seek justice for George and his family.  If you mean this, good.  But this is not just about George Floyd.  This fight is about deep, ingrained racism that marks centuries of American history.  This is about you using “thugs” to refer to black protesters and “good people” to refer to white protestors.  This is about the implicit biases that so many of us hold and about how these biases manifest into systems that cost black lives.  This is about failing to acknowledge the differences between black and white; in not confronting this fact directly, you are perpetuating it.

“America is founded upon the rule of law,” you say.

Beyond the outright hypocrisy as you unleash the military upon your citizens while denying black people’s right to a fair justice system, some issues transcend law.  Some protests invoke morals over order.  Lives mean more than property; justice demands more than complacency.

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.”

I am only thankful that because these systems are so pervasive, overturning them depends on more than just your action and support — action and support that I doubt will go deeper than a transparent statement to seek justice for George.  Prove me wrong.

But I have more hope in the people than I do in you, and if we cannot make you understand this movement, we will not let you forget it.


Concerned Citizen


Note: As a former Editor-in-Chief, I understand that having a platform means having a space and responsibility to voice your opinions and spread information.  Many of us have platforms reinforced by our white privilege — I challenge us to see how we can use those platforms to ignite conversation.

Elissa Gorman