By Hazel Trice Edney
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – President Donald Trump has repeatedly used a form of the word “infested” as he refers to Black and brown people, clearly expressing his view of them as something less than human.
This was the observation of an emotional CNN anchor, who happens to be a Baltimore native, as well as activists, civil rights leaders and the general public in response to Trump’s latest racial insult. This time he was referring to Baltimore Rep. Elijah Cummings, chair of the House Oversight Committee, which has heavily monitored Trump and his administration, including on their treatment of immigrants.
“Cumming’s District is a disgusting rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore maybe he could clean up this very dangerous and filthy place…No human being would want to live there,” Trump ranted in an angry tweet Monday morning.
Baltimore-born CNN anchor Victor Blackwell, clearly fed up with Trump’s insults of people of color, issued a live, on the air rebuke, quoting the times the president has used a form of the word, “infested” in descriptions of people of color or where they live:
“Infested: That’s usually reserved for references to rodents and insects, but we’ve seen the president invoke infestation to criticize law makers before. Do you see a pattern here? Just two weeks ago, president Trump attacked four minority Congresswomen: ‘Why don’t they go back to the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came?’ Reminder: Three of them were born here. All of them are American.’”
Blackwell continued, ‘“Infested’. A week before his inauguration, January 2017, Congressman John Lewis should spend more time fixing and helping his district which is in horrible shape and falling apart; not to mention crime infested. Donald Trump has tweeted more than 43,000 times. He’s insulted thousands of people. Many different types of people. But when he tweets about infestation, it’s about Black and Brown people.
He continued, “Sept. 2014 at the height of an urgent health emergency: ‘Why are we sending thousands of ill-trained soldiers into Ebola-infested areas of Africa. Bring the plague to the U. S.? Obama is so stupid.’”
Finally, “There’s a revolution going on in California. So many sanctuary areas want out to this ridiculous crime-infested and breeding concept,” Blackwell quotes before speaking directly to Trump from his anchors chair.
“The president says about Congressman Cummings’ district (emotional pause) ‘That no human would want to live there. You know who did, Mr. President? I did. From the day I was brought home from the hospital to the day I left for college. And a lot of people I care about still do. There are challenges, no doubt. But people are proud of their community. I don’t want to sound self-righteous, but people get up and go to work there. They care for their families there. They love their children who pledge allegiance to the flag just like people who live in districts of Congressmen who support you, sir. They are Americans too.”
Blackwell wasn’t alone by a long stretch. The President’s latest racist remarks drew ire from Black Republicans and Democrats alike. Trump’s latest tweets comes on the heels of the U. S. House of Representatives’ condemnation of his Twitter attacks on four Congresswomen of color as ‘racist’.
National Action Network’s Al Sharpton, Trump’s fellow New Yorker, in Baltimore for a meeting and press conference that had been planned weeks earlier, blistered the president for his attacks on Cummings and Baltimore.
“Little did I know that Mr. Trump was going to, on the eve of this, attack the Congressman from this city. And not only the congressman, but the people of this city in the most bigoted and racist way,” said Sharpton at the early morning press conference. “He attacked everybody. I know Donald Trump. He is not mature enough to take criticism. He can’t help it. He’s like a child. Somebody says something, he reacts. He’s thin-skinned and not really matured that well.”
Sharpton concluded, “But he has a particular venom for Black and people of color. He doesn’t refer to other opponents or critics as infested. He does not attack their districts. He attacks Nancy Pelosi, he attacks Chuck Schumer, he attacks other Whites. But he never said that their districts or their states are places that no human being wants to live.”
Republican businessman and political operative Elroy Sailor, co-founder, CEO and Managing Partner of the Watts Partners, named for former Republican Congressman J. C. Watts, opened the press conference by describing a partnership in which Sharpton had reached out to the Bank of America to begin discussions on ways to develop Baltimore; especially its housing stock in the wake of the demise of Black homeownership across America. Jimmy Kemp, the son of former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp, also at the press conference, is a leader in the project.
Also, at the press conference, former chair of the Republican National Committee and former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, called Baltimore a “wonderful city” and was highly critical of Trump’s remarks.
“Mr. President, your reprehensible comments are like water rolling off of a duck’s back when it comes to this community. It just washes over them. It doesn’t stick to them. It doesn’t stain them,” Steele said. “Let’s walk this community sir. Let’s talk to them face to face. And you’ll begin to realize and appreciate the hard work and the commitment they have made. The resources that they need, you can help with. The energy that they have, you will benefit from.”
Steele pointed out that three million people lost their homes in the 2008 housing crisis and a million were evicted. Their Baltimore meeting had intended on fixing issues that still stem from that crisis. He urged the public to keep their eyes on the potentially powerful outcome of the project and not on Trump’s tweets.
“We got side-tracked, but we should not be distracted,” Steele said. “Because the work that need to be done that will then benefit and flow out in education, in business and health and other things, it matters. It is the time now to do this. That’s why we were gathered here…Don’t get distracted by the Tweet. Don’t get blinded by the noise…You do that, and this all gets lost.”
As Sharpton and Steele had prepared for the press conference, Trump also attacked Sharpton on Twitter, calling him a “con man” and “troublemaker.”
Sharpton responded in part, “Called me a troublemaker. Yes, I make trouble for bigots.”