Weekly Letter to President Obama
Copyright © 2010
ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
December 2, 2016
Mr. President: An unequal society is like tinder, dry and just waiting for a match to set
it off. In the US case, add multi-ethnicity, a surfeit of guns, joblessness resulting in
the blame game, and the environment is not only virulent but dangerously explosive.
Yesterday three men shouting 'Donald Trump' and hurling insults at an 18-year old
Muslim woman tried to pull off her hijab on the New York subway in Manhattan. A few
days earlier, a student at Ohio State University used his car to run over pedestrians
on campus until it ran into a concrete pillar. He then stepped out of it with a butcher
knife stabbing and slashing until killed by the police. He was a Somali Muslim who felt
persecuted in the prevailing climate. He, of course, was here because his country
has been devastated since the Ethiopian invasion fostered by the US. The country
continues in civil war -- as do Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen with the hands of the
usual interventionist clearly stained.
A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identifies almost 900 incidents
of minority harassment following Donald Trump's election victory. Of these the most
are directed against immigrants (about 275) followed by the expected targets:
anti-black 175, anti-Semitic 100, anti-LGBT 90, anti-Muslim 50, and anti-women 40
constitute the significant victims.
The climate has infected schools. In a related survey of 10,000 teachers, more than
a quarter had witnessed incidents of bigotry and harassment including fights, threats
of violence and swastika graffiti. In addition, fully 90 percent noted the negative
impact of the 'Trump effect' on their schools. The president of the American
Federation of Teachers (AFT), Randi Weingartner, has called on President-elect
Trump "to use his voice to effectively and unequivocally denounce these hateful acts
that are done in his name."
A map of hate groups on the SPLC website shows there are 892 in the US. They
have been re-energized by the Trump victory. Donald Trump's rhetoric has for the
haters legitimized hate. Randi Weingartner is right. He now has to backpedal fast
and repudiate these haters for the cost of poisoning the young minds of children is
too high in a civilized democratic society.
While North America and most countries of the north exhibit a form of closet racism,
Donald Trump's contribution has been to let it come out. Bad idea. It is an ugly genie
that needs to be put back in its bottle and quickly.
Even the CIA director, John Brennan, has warned the Trump team to be disciplined in
the language they use because it can be "exploited ... to portray the United States
and the government as being anti-Islamic ... ." He has also labeled ending the Iran
deal as "disastrous" -- it being one of Mr. Trump's repeated promises on the
campaign trail along with the trade tariffs on Chinese goods unless he got a better
Such pledges betray a naivete in foreign policy that can only come from a man averse
to acquiring basic knowledge. His touted experience of building resorts and hotels in
Scotland or Qatar ill prepare him for the world stage. The hope is he will have sage
advisers who can fill in the gaps -- or more appropriately chasms -- before he enters
the Oval Office.
For example, laying a 45 percent tariff on Chinese manufactures would put an end to
any hopes of an economic surge countering and more the proposed $1 trillion
expenditure on infrastructure. Oddly enough Walmart, the working class shopper's
paradise, accounted for a huge $49 billion of imports out of the US trade deficit of
$324 billion. Messing up Walmart would not make Mr. Trump's principal constituency
very happy. Clearly a conflicting agenda not seriously thought through ... but then
how many election promises are actually kept?