Donald Trump Is Killing Us
Notes from the end of the world as we know it.
By Ryu Spaeth...
August 14, 2017
As the crisis this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, reached its depressing nadir, a grim joke (is there any other kind anymore?) circulated through social media that went something like this: We are going to miss those days when all we had to worry about was a nuclear war with North Korea. The days in question, of course, came earlier that very week, when President Donald Trump ratcheted up tensions with Kim Jong-Un’s regime by declaring that he would unleash “fire and fury” on the country if it continued to threaten the United States. On Friday, mere hours before hundreds of neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched on Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, Trump tweeted that a military option for North Korea was “locked and loaded.” For no apparent reason at all, he then threatened Venezuela with possible military intervention.
What followed was a weekend of miserable hate theater: a sea of angry white faces, suffused with torchlight; the swastikas and Confederate flags on parade through the streets of an American city; the anti-Nazi counter-protests, which were disrupted when a car slammed into the crowd, scattering demonstrators like so many bowling pins and killing one woman; and the president of the United States refusing to condemn all this, saying “many sides” were responsible for what had happened in Charlottesville. It was a moment that will live in infamy, a low point for a presidency that seems to be composed of nothing but low points. And North Korea faded into what seemed like the distant past, another pile of wreckage in the great ruin that this president has made.
It would seem that the only thing these two crises have in common is Trump. He instigated both of them: in one case, by turning an impoverished totalitarian state thousands of miles away into his personal bête noire; in the other, by legitimizing the grievances of a pathetic group that believes people of other races are inherently inferior. In both instances he was guided by his north star, a white nationalist base that, depending on whom you ask, is either in its final reactionary throes or is experiencing a resurgence alongside its sister movements in Europe.
But what these crises also have in common is the psychological effect they have on the rest of us, joining a long chain of crises to form a single ur-crisis that hangs over our heads like a sword and from which there is no guarantee of reprieve. America has long been a country of hate and prejudice, of war and belligerence, but the last week was the latest evidence that there is something new and disorienting and dangerous afoot. It feels as if the whole world is coming off its hinges, and the vast majority of us can do nothing but watch it happen.