“Unlimited Catastrophe”: Michael Eric Dyson on How Trump Turned the White House into “Fulcrum of Fascism”
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AMY GOOD MAN: This is Democracy now!, democratienow.org, The quarantine report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
Today is the day of the inauguration. President Trump officially left the White House for the last time as president. President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States in a scene unique in United States history, with tens of thousands of National Guardsmen and women on the streets and no crowds of revelers. The heavily militarized event comes just two weeks to the day after a crowd of right-wing Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an unsuccessful attempt to overturn the election.
Trump will be the first president in 150 years not to witness the transition of power from his administration to the next. He leaves behind a devastating legacy, including the deaths of 400,000 people in the United States in COVID-19 – a record-breaking world toll, which was marked on Tuesday night when President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris lit 400 lights around the Lincoln Memorial’s reflective pool to honor those lost. Biden and Harris both spoke at the memorial.
PRESIDENT–ELECT JOE BIDEN: To heal, we must remember. And sometimes it’s hard to remember, but that’s how we heal. It is important to do this as a nation. That is why we are here today.
VICE PRESIDENT–ELECT KAMALA HARRIS: For many months we mourned on our own. Tonight we cry and begin to heal together. Although we are physically separate, we the American people are united in spirit.
AMY GOOD MAN: Today, Kamala Harris goes down in history as the first female vice president, first African-American, first Asian American, first American Indian to hold this position. As vice president, Harris will be sworn in this afternoon to three new Democratic senators, handing control of the chamber to his party: Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, both of whom won their second-round races in Georgia earlier. this month, and Alex Padilla, who will replace her in the Senate representing California. She will therefore be the tiebreaker in the Senate 50-50.
It is also the first day of Joe Biden’s administration, and he has pledged to repeal Trump’s travel ban on citizens of Muslim-majority countries, to join the Paris climate agreement, cancel the Keystone pipeline and issue a mask warrant on federal property. Biden also plans to undo construction of the border wall and unveil a sweeping immigration bill to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for about 11 million people living in the United States without legal status.
To learn more about this historic day and what is to come, we are joined by two guests. In New York City, Waleed Shahid is a spokesperson for Justice Democrats, a former senior campaign advisor to Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who both won their races. Recent sound room in The nation, “A plan for social movements during the Biden presidency. And in Washington, DC, Michael Eric Dyson joins us, professor at Vanderbilt University, political analyst and author. His latest book is Long Time Coming: Counting with Race in America.
We welcome you both to Democracy now! Professor Dyson, let’s start with you. Let’s look back for a moment as Trump just flew out of the White House, will not attend the inauguration. So, from banning Muslims in Charlottesville to separating children from the insurgency, your record of the Trump presidency?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, thank you for having me this morning.
The Trump presidency has been a total disaster. He visited America some of the worst forms of undemocratic practices and beliefs, thought and ideals, norms and conventions, which we have witnessed in this nation, and the direct assault on those conventions. Whether one is disposed across the spectrum and continuum of beliefs from left to right, what has held this nation together, despite the bickering, contested disbelief on one side or the other, is the idea that the American nation could at least realize its ambitions morally and politically by generating enough evidence or argument for one side or the other, and being prepared to subject those beliefs to radical and rigorous criticism, and then move on. forward with the determination that his way of thinking was right. But here, this bitter division of that practice resulted in a neofascist presidency, if you will, that attempted to undermine the very legitimacy of the democracy for which it was put in power.
Here is a man who had the position of Thomas Jefferson, but the work of Benedict Arnold, undermining, being a traitor to democracy, as the greatest representative of democracy itself. The most sacred hall of world power, but certainly of American democracy, is the White House, the Oval Office. And from there he used it as a fulcrum for fascism. He used it as a wedge of division to undermine the ability of the American people to achieve their collective ambitions.
And finally, what is tragic about this presidency as well is that the very people who were supposedly to be supported and helped by this president are no better off today than they were when he took office. functions. They received what WEB Du Bois called in 1935 the “psychological wages of whiteness”. At least you’re not black. At least – or we can extend it: at least you are not a Muslim. At least you’re not, you know, a person of color. At least you’re not a woman. At least you are not gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual.
So the point is, he spawned the worst form of division this nation has witnessed, at least for a long time, and didn’t even give them a reward for political participation in a system it cherished. He undermined it. He was fighting against his best virtues. And at the end of the day, he will quickly be swept aside as one of the most destructive, if not the most destructive presidents this nation has ever witnessed.