Trumping the Flag

"Not only is the racist in the White House interjecting himself into a family tragedy, he is, as always, wrong on the facts," Brauchli writes. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

Trumping the Flag

Trump has exploited the murder of Mollie Tibbetts to bellow yet again about the need for a wall, despite her family's objections to his "racist fear-mongering"

A thoughtful mind, when it sees a nation's flag, sees not the flag only, but the nation itself, and whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag the government, the principles, the truths, the history which belongs to the nation that sets it forth.
-- Henry Ward Beecher, The National Flag

It is not my practice to use this space to offer advice to Donald Trump. Nonetheless, he has so greatly embarrassed this country and himself in the course of less than a week, that it seems like the least I can do is offer some suggestions about things he might like to tweet. Last things first.

It takes only a person with a very small mind to decide to use the American flag as a way to express disrespect for someone of whose national stature the person with the very small mind is deeply envious. That is why following John McCain's death, the flag found itself being used, not as a patriotic symbol, but as a weapon to give vent to a small man's envy of another man's national stature. To effect this result, the flag over the White House was lowered, raised, and lowered, all within a period of less than 24 hours. The death of John McCain was not the only death into which Donald inserted himself in a way befitting his crude style. The other was the death of Mollie Tibbetts.

Molly's death gave him the excuse to bellow yet again about the need for a wall because an illegal immigrant was the apparent murderer. In his tweets, he was mindless of the feelings of her family. As Sandi Tibbetts Murphy, one of Mollie's relatives wrote on Facebook: "It is not your right to exacerbate this grievous act by hijacking Mollie and all she believed with your racist fear-mongering. You do not get to use her murder to inaccurately promote your 'permanently separated' hyperbole."

Sandi got it right. Not only is the racist in the White House interjecting himself into a family tragedy, he is, as always, wrong on the facts. Contrary to Donald's repeated assertions, illegal immigrants do not commit more crimes in the United States than those of us who are not illegal immigrants. A study by the Pew Research Center shows that first generation immigrants are less likely to engage in criminal activity than native-born Americans.

If Donald really wanted to get concerned about crime he might have addressed the arrest of one man whose arrest took place the same week that Mollie's body was discovered, and the arrest of a second man arrested a few weeks earlier. Both men were, as far as has been reported, citizens of the United States in good standing. Neither of them was an illegal immigrant. Their only offenses were that they were rapists and murderers.

On August 23, 2018, the same day Mollie's body was discovered, the New York Times published an extensive report on how missing court paperwork permitted a man who had raped and killed a nurse in Springfield Gardens, Queens, to be released without bail when arrested for minor charges. That happened because neither the court nor the attorneys involved in the court proceedings were aware of earlier proceedings in which he was being charged with rape and murder. Two weeks after his release he raped and murdered a young nurse. According to the Times report, Danueal Drayton has told authorities that he is responsible for a number of rapes and murders in New York City for which he has not yet been charged. He was arrested in Los Angeles a few weeks after his release, in an apartment where he was holding captive a young woman who said he had raped her. The story and the oversight was alarming. Donald was silent.

On August 22, 2018, Darold Wayne Bowden was arrested in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Prior to his arrest he was known as the Ramsey Street Rapist. For more than 10 years police had been unable to identify him. Mr. Bowden is now in jail and faces criminal charges involving first-degree rape, first-degree burglary and felony larceny. As is the case with Mr. Dayton, there have been no suggestions that he is an illegal immigrant. Donald is silent.

In defense of Donald, insofar as the flag is concerned, there is an outside chance that he is unaware of the importance of the flag as a symbol. That that may be the case is shown by a widely circulated picture of Donald sitting at a table at Nationwide Childrens' Hospital in Columbus Ohio on August 24, 2018. Donald is seated next to small children and is drawing the American flag for the children. The picture shows the flag he is drawing for the children. It has one red stripe and one blue stripe, the stripes being separated by white spaces. It is not known how he would have completed it given more time. It is possible, however, that he was drawing Mr. Putin's flag. That flag, like the flag Donald was drawing, has red, white and blue stripes. The United States flag that flies over the White House has red and white stripes. Perhaps someone will let him know. The children almost certainly already know, but were too polite to share their knowledge with the White House resident fool.

This article was written for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.