By Horus Alas
Yeah. Frighteningly, damningly, vexingly—yeah.
Our initial commentators have a good point, and I must acknowledge it as such. The man we saw addressing both chambers of Congress tonight didn’t complain about being treated unfairly by the media, or dispute the size of his inauguration crowds, or even cite outlandish claims about the size of his Electoral College victory—or his hands!
By all accounts, we can agree Donald Trump was composed this evening during his address to Congress. He stuck to prepared remarks without veering off into insane rantings about how badly Hillary Clinton lost or how millions of undocumented immigrants voted in the 2016 elections.
Trump even began his remarks with a nod to Black History Month and a long-overdue condemnation of a recent wave of desecration of Jewish burial sites.
“… We are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms,” he said.
Let’s wait and see.
Trump clearly had the help of some talented speechwriters this time around, with rhetorical flourishes like, “I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.”
Okay … I might believe this if not for the entirety of your presidential campaign and your first month in office, but yeah, sure—go on.
Continuing on, the president mused, “And we’ve spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled.”
This is so true. Maybe he took an incognito field trip to this campus one day and lamented the wretched state of the cracked asphalt along the sidewalks of Campus Drive. Sad!
As he began to enumerate his achievements since taking office, Trump cited auto manufacturers who have pledged to keep jobs in the U.S., haggling with Lockheed Martin over the price of a new F-35 fighter jet, and despite fierce popular opposition, the approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.
Turning to one of his chief areas of demagoguery, Trump vowed, “By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars and make our communities safer for everyone.”
So, yes. This is, after all, the same man who called Mexicans “criminals” and “rapists” over a year ago. Good to know.
Trump took a few sweet and evidently self-satisfying moments to harp about “construction of a great, great wall along our southern border,” and declare, “We are also taking strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism.”
Never mind that Trump’s intended border wall will cost between $12 billion and $15 billion, or that his new national security advisor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, specifically admonished the President against repeated use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”
Turning to the economy, President Trump bemoaned that “94 million Americans are out of the labor force” and proposed sweeping tax cuts to individuals and corporations across economic strata.
As NPR Politics Reporter Danielle Kurtzleben pointed out, however, “[although around 94 million Americans are out of the labor force] … that’s not necessarily bad. For example, a college student, a retiree and a stay-at-home parent could all be quite happily out of the labor force.”
And as you may have guessed with Republican tax cuts, they would mostly benefit the wealthy. Reaganomics forever.
Per standard conservative talking points, Trump iterated his commitment to “repeal and replace Obamacare—with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better health care.”
Heard anything about Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare lately? It’s an absolute quagmire. Many Republican lawmakers themselves oppose a repeal of the Affordable Care Act with doubts as to whether plans drafted in a Republican-controlled Congress can guarantee continued coverage for the 20 million Americans currently enrolled in the ACA.
There are many more points to unpack in Trump’s address, but I’ll direct my attention to the remarks that stopped me in my tracks:
“I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American Victims. The office is called VOICE – Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media and silenced by special interests.”
This is why I’ve classified this piece of analysis as another installment in my “Sinister Saga” series rather than a standalone commentary on his address.
People of all backgrounds commit crimes. According to FBI statistics, whites constituted 5.75 million out of a total 8.24 million—or roughly 70 percent— of criminal arrests in 2015. And according to The New York Times, immigrants are in fact less likely to commit crimes than natural-born citizens.
But do we specifically publicize and single out white criminals in contrast to those of other races, even when they constitute a majority?
No. Because that would be overtly racist fear-mongering. It would be unabashed prejudice against vast demographics of people, and it’s actually a tactic employed by the Nazis against Jews.
And no, Van Jones, Trump didn’t become president when he used the widow of a slain Navy SEAL as a political prop. Julia Ioffe is more observant and direct when she tweets, “He became president of the United States [on] January 20th. And he’s never going to change.”
Damned if we’re going to change, either.
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo credit courtesy of Gage Skidmore on Flickr.
Horus Alas is a senior philosophy major and can be reached at email@example.com.