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Instead of Stepping Up to Save Lives, Trump Points Fingers and Blows Smoke

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“Divide-and-Distract” Strategy of Xenophobia Will Not Draw Attention Away from His Deadly Mismanagement of Our Public Health Crisis

Spreading xenophobia will not contain the spread of the coronavirus. Nevertheless, President Trump and allies are ramping up their efforts to distract attention from their own mismanagement of the ongoing public health crisis by turning to their go-to tactic of scapegoating “the other.”

Thankfully, most of us are onto him:

  • Jamelle Bouie: “Donald Trump is responsible for a rapidly growing disease outbreak and consequent economic collapse and wants to distract you from it by doing a racism.”
  • Adam Serwer: “They’re far more concerned about riling up the base by drawing accusations of racism than they are dealing with the pandemic. It’s absolutely urgent to them that they be able to get into this argument to distract from Trump’s incompetence.”
  • Hillary Clinton: “The president is turning to racist rhetoric to distract from his failures to take the coronavirus seriously early on, make tests widely available, and adequately prepare the country for a period of crisis. Don’t fall for it. Don’t let your friends and family fall for it.”
  • Dan Pfeiffer: “When Trump tries to get everyone mad about a specific thing, it usually means he is trying to distract you from something else that he views as much more politically damaging to him.”
  • Crooked Media’s nightly newsletter by Sarah Lazarus: “To distract from its deadly failures, the Trump administration has dialed up the racism … President Trump hopes that by declaring himself a wartime president, falsely claiming he’s taken this crisis seriously all along, and trying to start a xenophobic culture war, we’ll all forget that he downplayed coronavirus, failed to respond in the critical early weeks, and still isn’t moving fast enough.”
  • Texas Democratic Senate candidate MJ Hegar in response to Texas incumbent GOP Senator John Cornyn’s racist comments about the Chinese: “There’s a word for this: xenophobia. Texas communities deserve better than racist dog whistles, and Americans are looking for leadership and solutions. It’s time to unify, not divide on racist lines and point fingers. Please stop making things worse and get back to work.”
  • Ron Brownstein: “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Trump’s core message is that his supporters [are] threatened by dangerous minorities/foreigners & contemptuous elites & that he alone can protect them. Blending racism w/media bashing is his bullseye.

    According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’ Voice

We are at the beginning of a public health crisis in America that could cost more than a million lives. We need an urgent federally-led nationwide mobilization to ramp up testing, stand up hospital beds and protect the heroic workers on the front lines. Tragically, Trump ignored warnings about the dangers of the virus, resisted efforts to expand and expedite testing and has failed for weeks to mobilize the Army Corps of Engineer and other federal agencies to build desperately-needed infrastructure.

Now he holds daily press conferences to give off the appearance of command, to try to set the narrative going forward, and to identify a non-white group to blame.

He and his GOP allies are pushing out a strategy to demonize and scapegoat people from China. It is leading to strained relations with China and hate crimes against Asian-Americans in the streets of America. They don’t care. They are turning on the fog machine of xenophobia in hopes of deflecting from Trump’s deadly incompetence. It won’t work. The immense stakes of this crisis aren’t something that will yield to his brew of mendacity, self-congratulation and racism. He is going to be judged by how his administration’s dithering, delay and incompetence led to widespread death.