We are experiencing a clash of giants: the Civil Rights uniter, Elijah Cummings, and the divider, President Donald Trump. We need the spirit of another giant, Thurgood Marshall, who was raised on the West Side of Baltimore, and whose legacy is clear: the “greatest civil rights lawyer and constitutional lawyer of the twentieth century,” who fought for equality for all, majority and minority, “regardless of race or gender or circumstance, defending any individual or minority group oppressed by the majority or by the government.”
I am upset about the tone of President Trump’s Twitter storms against Baltimore and Congressman Cummings. Nonetheless, this clash pulls the covers back on harsh facts both parties have long avoided, blaming each other instead. Here are facts:
Bernie Sanders, “four years ago,” said being in West Baltimore was like being in a Third World country.
President Barack Obama, in April of 2015, said that conditions in Baltimore required national “soul searching,” because the “$1.8 billion stimulus bonanza” he had lavished on the city didn’t seem to solve anything.
USA Today, June 13, 2018, headlined Baltimore as being in the top 10 “least livable cities in America,” and on July 30, 2019, reported Baltimore as one of the nation’s five “most dangerous” cities.”
A recent list of “the 50 most dangerous cities” in the world has Baltimore at # 27, with most of the rest south of our border: 15 cities in Mexico, 14 in Brazil, 5 in Venezuela, 3 in Honduras, 2 in Columbia, and one each in El Salvador and Guatemala. Only 2 are in Africa (both in South Africa).
Think of what could be done by the powerful chairman of the Oversight Committee and the president of the United States, working together to resolve these issues.
We need to again listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call to non-violence, and his urging that we judge by content of character and not color of skin. We need to adopt Barack Obama’s vision that we are Americans first, not separate as white, black, brown or yellow Americans.
The issue of race and skin color appears to be one of the cornerstones for our second-generation American now blessed to be president of the United States, as his insults ignore the honored place of Rep. Cummings as well as those he suggests go back to where they came from. Insulting a great city and its people as related to rodents, rats, vermin and poverty, won’t do.
President Trump continues from earlier attacks, as when he said that Barack Obama was born in a grass hut in Kenya, Africa, an accusation and insult of a birther.
Dividing this nation along racial lines with insults, disrespect and threats will not unite. Neither will waving the flag of patriotism after dodging service in the military. The president needs to create a climate that supports, not undermines, respect and trust in elected officials.
These are troubling times, dangerous times, as too many refuse to listen to such great voices as JFK (moon vision), LBJ (Great Society vision), MLK, Jr (non-violence vision), Nellie Stone Johnson (activist vision), Thurgood Marshall (equal vision), and others, visions of Americans of all colors and persuasions rallying around and standing together, equally proud of each other and our nation.
The political decisions fracturing respect and civility has us teetering as if on the head of the Statue of Liberty, casting shadows on the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. We need instead to remind ourselves of the words and spirit of such patriotic songs as “America the Beautiful.”
The race card will not serve any who use it in 2019 and 2020. We need to stand up for our country, our cities, and each other.
God bless America.