If you needed more proof that Donald Trump cares far more about his public image and bank account than the American people he was elected to represent, Bob Woodward's new and nauseating exposé definitely hammers the point home. It also makes it painfully clear that it has never been more important to vote this man out of office on November 3.
News of Woodward's upcoming book Rage has hit headlines globally. Built from 18 interviews that took place between December 2019 to July this year, Woodward extracted so many alarming admissions from Trump it's hard to find the right words to respond. But not that hard. Particularly when it comes to a series of conversations regarding white privilege and systemic racism.
As the BBC reports, Woodward asked Trump whether he felt America "has systemic racism." At first, he was given a typically throwaway response — "probably less here than most places or less here than many places." But when Trump was pushed, he admitted that yes, America does have systemic racism and yes, it does impact people's lives. "I think it is [in America]. It's unfortunate, but I think it is."
It's unfortunate. Chew on that for a second, while Trevor Noah's assessment of "Oooh, it looks like someone finally got around to watching Get Out," runs through the background. It's unfortunate.
Buying a bottle of wine and having no way to open it is unfortunate. Spilling ink on expensive bedding is unfortunate. Running for a bus and missing it is unfortunate. But in regards to systemic racism? Have there ever been two words that so accurately summarize the number of fucks President Trump has to give in regards to protecting Black lives in America?
See, while you could be misled into thinking that Trump's admission is a positive thing — a finally! he's seen reality! kind of thing — it's the opposite. It's deeply sinister. He knows it exists yet is actively denouncing it in order to cynically appeal to his base.
It was only days ago that he visited Kenosha, Wisconsin in the wake of protests that erupted after Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by police, and completely dismissed the "idea" of systemic racism. Instead, he said the city had been "ravaged by anti-police and anti-America riots" and blankly refused to condemn Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white Trump supporter who fatally shot two protestors.
His refusal to admit the existence of racism makes sense when looking at the wider picture of his republican party — one in which a dead-eyed Nikki Haley can look straight in the camera at the RNC and spout lines such as "It’s now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie. America is not a racist country" like a perfectly programmed Stepford Wife. (Speaking of lies, this is the real story behind her "why America's not racist" anecdote if you're interested.)
It also makes sense when you calculate just how much Trump benefits, both politically and financially, from a system that thrives on systemic racism. In a video published earlier this month (below), Stephen Fry looks at this in detail. Over nine minutes, he breaks down the many ways Trump takes advantage of PoCs, including exploiting racial tension for political gain. The BLM protests are a perfect illustration of this: Trump referring to those opposing the system as "angry mobs trying to unleash a wave of violent crime" shows how he uses language to mislead and misinform his supporters against something we now know he knows isn't true, just to keep votes.
In the same way, his interviews with Woodward (captured on audio in March) provide hard evidence that Trump has always known how deadly Covid-19 is, but chose to "play it down" so as not to cause "a panic." Let us not forget that Covid is a virus that, as the New York Times reported back in April, kills Black people at "disproportionately high rates." And let us also not forget how awful it is that Woodward slept on these interviews for months, while 190,000 Americans died of the virus, in order to sell a book later down the line.
If Trump had acted decisively on his knowledge with a strict lockdown in February and constantly promoted a message to wear masks and implement social distancing and hygiene measures, experts have said that thousands of lives could have been saved. But he didn't.