• Orla Norman

Beyond Incompetency: Why Trump’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement is damaging a nation

The weak moral leadership of President Trump over the past four years has actively encouraged the promotion of racial divisiveness in US, captured by his vulgar rhetoric of ‘Make America Great Again’ in the lead up to and during his presidency – an inflammatory and regressive statement which suggests that America was at its “greatest” in a dark historical period which his most devoted supporters dare not name. The statement has become synonymous with Trump’s causal racism: his referral to African American citizens as ‘the blacks’, to Mexicans as ‘rapists’ and his constant need to reassure the world that he is ‘the least racist person there is’[1].

"I’ve done more for Black Americans, in fact, than any President in U.S. history..."

Trump’s ingrained racism prevents him from understanding the generational trauma of the African American: he appears unable, or perhaps unwilling to accept that the protests are an expression of a nationwide anger at a system which persistently fails to treat them in the same way as their white equal. Instead, he sees a nation in disarray, and reverts to threats of arrests, violence and forced compliance, disregarding the very sentiment behind the movement. His immediate lapse into an authoritarian tone regarding the riots (warning protesters that ‘when the looting starts the shooting starts’ in a tweet which was later put under a public interest note for violating Twitter Guidelines[2]) and his dependence on militancy to uphold the values of his administration exposes his willingness to threaten an entire nation which is refusing to conform to his own racist ideals.

When Trump acquired the role of President of the United States in 2016, he regarded it as though it were yet another one of his many properties; believing that the regime was now in his possession and those working under him were now in his full control. The Black Lives Matter social movement (founded in 2013) represents antagonism to Trump’s agenda; they push forward a view in opposition to his own and therefore threaten his popularity, consequently threatening the chances of his electoral success[3].

His innate tendency to racism is seen through the stark contrasts in his language, describing the primarily white lockdown protesters two weeks ago as ‘great people’ who simply need to be ‘liberated’, before going on to label the primarily black protesters as ‘thugs’. The two matters of protest can hardly be equated.


Trump has turned a blind eye to the incontestable call for the basic civil liberties of black US citizens to be recognised, as well as ignoring the campaign for substantial change to a system which was never designed to protect their rights. In doing so, he has driven the worst of society out of the woodwork: the white supremacists, the Neo-Nazis, and policemen complicit in exploiting their power – even when a human life hangs in the balance. His refusal to tackle the problem of excessive police brutality towards the black population in America as well as the ongoing controversy of qualified immunity – a legal doctrine which protects police officers from being held to the same standard as ordinary citizens – has continued to incite hostility and division.


What is most terrifying of all is that Trump exists as an embodiment of the mindsets of so many white people in positions of power in Western society and beyond. His inflammatory words and beliefs have stirred in the minds of so many white people their own ingrained racist mentalities; his remarks from a position of great power have had the effect of legitimising such mannerisms and behaviour. Trump’s rhetoric has put him in a position in which he cannot negotiate with the civil rights protesters – something which a leader of a nation should be able to do. His policy of divide and rule, grouping together the peaceful protesters with those who use destruction to make their impact and encouraging the police force to ‘dominate’ as clear opposition has put him in a political headlock.

"D.C. had no problems last night. Many arrests. Great job done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination."

Re-electing Donald Trump in November is the single worst decision the people of America can make. To list his wrongdoings and fundamental flaws in character would take a lifetime, but his response to these riots and his encouragement of police brutality against citizens of his own state should stand alone as the single most important reason to remove him from the position of President of the United States.

We can no longer stand by and ignore when power is abused in such a way as to favour one part of society and not the other. I stand in solidarity with George Floyd, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others.

#BlackLivesMatter



[1] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2019/jul/30/trump-claims-least-racist-person-in-the-world [2] https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-defends-his-when-the-looting-starts-the-shooting-starts-tweet-2020-5?r=US&IR=T [3] Adams, S. (2018), ‘Framing effects in a competitive environment: Black Lives Matter versus President Trump’, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

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