‘You would think you were in a Third World country,’ the millionaire white New Yorker of retirement age said of Baltimore’s heavily black Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood in 2015.
There is nothing remotely racist about this statement. We know that because Bernie Sanders said it. Yes, the Bernie Sanders who lives in whites-only Vermont and whose inability to connect with a key group of the Democratic base means that he has what the pollsters call an ‘African American problem’.
It was, however, disgracefully and irredeemably racist of President Trump to refer to Rep. Elijah Cummings’s Baltimore district as a ‘disgusting rat and rodent infested mess’ and a ‘very dangerous & filthy place’. It was racist not because Baltimore has the highest murder rate of any large American city, a corrupt and violent police force and, according to posts from residents and public-spirited enquiries by the London Independent, rats and mould in apartment complexes owned by Jared Kushner’s family. It was racist because Trump said it about a Democratic-controlled city with lots of African American, Democratic-voting inhabitants.
If you believe that what white millionaire New Yorker Donald Trump said about Baltimore was racist, then you should believe that what white millionaire New Yorker Bernie Sanders said about Baltimore was racist too. We’ll give Sanders a pass on the detail that the Third World ceased to exist around the time his beloved Soviet Union went under, and cut to the key question: is there, was there, a single ‘Third World’ country that was majority white?
Race is the third rail of American life, but the Democrats and their massed supporters in the media think that their way of talking about race is the only way. This is an insult to the rights of their fellow Americans, and an affront to common sense. Sanders and Trump both said what everyone knows, but fears to admit because the penalties for talking candidly about race in the United States are so high. The truth is that Baltimore’s poverty, violence and sustained failure make it an embarrassment to the United States.
In particular, Baltimore is a disgrace to the Democratic party. The same goes for the tent cities and human feces on the pavements of Los Angeles, for the struggle between tech plutocrats and the embedded class of junkies and beggars in San Francisco, and even for filthy New York City, which is sticky to the touch and has a medieval Metro system, despite being one of the richest places in the world. The color of their inhabitants’ skin varies, and though the crooked timber of humanity doesn’t help, it’s the failures of policy and honesty that have caused the decay of these American cities. You break it, you own it.
‘Oh, Baltimore, ain’t it hard just to live?’ Randy Newman, resident of Los Angeles, sang in 1977 on ‘Baltimore’, a song whose definitive version was recorded by Nina Simone in Brussels. And really, who would choose to live in Baltimore now? A few decades ago, America’s cities were the cynosure of the world. Some of them are now vivid proof of a society in decline, a society so paralyzed by political correctness and place-seeking that it cannot even name the causes of its collapse.
The Baltimore Sun’s editorial board retaliated to Trump’s statements of fact by listing the many great things about their dying city. These include Baltimore’s hosting of the Social Security Administration. This is precisely the kind of bailout-cum-work program that governments give to cities that have lost the means to support themselves. Kamala Harris, who is about as far away from Baltimore as you can get without leaving the continental United States, was offended at Trump’s attack on ‘this great American city’ which hosts her campaign team, probably because Baltimore is cheaper than other cities.
From which we conclude that Donald Trump has an intuitive feel for political language and social pressure points, and that most Democratic politicians and their supporters in the media are incorrigibly sanctimonious, foolish and biased. While the pollsters try to slice and dice the electorate, Trump, like Sanders the old-time Marxist, knows how to divide and rule, to split people into the collective identities of them and us, the workers and the bosses, the blacks and the whites, the lovers of America and the haters.
The Democrats are playing their version of this game, but they seem unable to resist Trump’s provocations, and they keep making his case for him. The Democrats, the elected oligarchs of Baltimore machine politics, the self-appointed Sharptons of African American mediadom, and much of the media responded on cue, all accusing Trump of moral obscenity when it’s obvious to the public that the real moral obscenity is the wreckage of Baltimore. This invited Trump to state the obvious:
‘There is nothing racist in stating plainly what people already know, that Elijah Cummings has done a terrible job for the people of his district, and of Baltimore itself. Dems always play the race card when they are unable to win on facts. Shame!’
In case there’s any doubt, Trump as good as tweeted out his game plan for re-election: ‘If the Democrats are going to defend the radical left “Squad” and King Elijah’s Baltimore Fail, it will be a long road to 2020.’ The road might be long, but the Democrats are wheeling Trump all the way there.
Dominic Green is Life & Arts Editor of Spectator USA.