Mongo Gets His Sheet On, Chapter 58,299,237

While LaVar Ball was building his family brand by selling the fantasy of the incredible Ball boys, Donald Trump was implementing a core part of his strategy as president: wherever possible be seen in the position of putting black people in their place, especially in a way that stokes the culture wars. The idea is for Trump to act outraged by something a black person has done, have it be signal-boosted by Fox News and the far-right media, and then Trump can use his bully pulpit to put them in line, thus making him both the victim and the one to clean it up—quickly! Bonus points if putting ’em in line leads to liberals getting upset but the ultimate goal is to be seen standing up to a black person or group of black people on behalf of aggrieved white people. If he’s seen as the protector of white people, he’s winning—as Trump’s then-chief strategist, Steve Bannon, revealed in an August interview with The American Prospect: “The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day.”

See, Trump’s base wants to “Make America Great Again”—a return to prominence for good old-fashioned whiteness, which they saw as in decline until Trump. They want white victories in a world where they’ve been forced to suffer through Affirmative Action and a black president and black people agitating for justice right before their precious football games. When Trump is seen as standing up to unruly blacks, he’s giving them those cultural victories they crave.

It’s absolutely Trump’s job to advocate for American citizens abroad—that’s not going above and beyond. But then he pulled out his phone and made it all about himself, demanding the boys thank him for getting them out, that they kiss his ring. It was so classless, so patronizing, so belittling, and so much about him. And it was so insulting. There he was once again talking down to black citizens, outraged at their behavior, and vowing to put them in their place. He tried this with Obama, the Central Park 5, the cast of Hamilton, Colin Kaepernick and the NFL kneelers, Jemele Hill, and so on and so forth. Black people are the neck that Trump stands on to seem taller to white people. 

This is all, of course, part of Trump’s plan. “In private, the president and his top aides freely admit that he is engaged in a culture war on behalf of his white, working-class base, a New York billionaire waging war against ‘politically correct’ coastal elites on behalf of his supporters in the South and in the Midwest,” reported The New York Times in late September.

He’s supposed to take care of all Americans, whether or not we support him, but he’s openly tribalist and weaponizes national division in order to rally his base. He’s sitting in the Oval Office talking like the blowhard at the end of the bar working his way through drink number too many. Think about it: Trump is a teetotaler who mouths off like a drunk. And you can now add this to the list of the most disgusting, derelict, unpresidential things Trump’s ever said: that he should have left American citizens to rot in a foreign prison because one of the young men’s fathers was insufficiently grateful.

Trump’s team often describes him as a “counterpuncher” who punches back “ten times harder,” yet he was able to stop himself from firing back when Eminem—a white guy from working-class Detroit—unloaded on him during a four-minute cypher at the BET Hip-Hop Awards. See, Em doesn’t fit the strategy.

Ungrateful is the new uppity, writes the New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb, and Trump has been policing the gratitude of these blacks with every tweet. Would the boys be grateful enough? They were. Then LaVar Ball wasn’t, so he shouts him down like the Boss Hogg that he is, here to make sure that blacks stay in line and whiteness reigns supreme. Whenever you think you’ve seen Trump at his lowest, he shows you that you’re dead wrong.

Toure

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