Misfired Message | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly

Misfired Message 

Taking a Gander: Trump's July Fourth speeches truly were duds

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Two-hundred-forty-four years have gone by, and Americans have just celebrated the anniversary of that memorable day when our country declared its independence. Put in historical perspective, our country is still very young; when viewed in the context of the future, there are ominous forebodings appearing on the crystal ball. Even as I am an eternal optimist, I cannot ignore what is happening.

Few fail to be emotionally moved by the Star-Spangled Banner waving proudly in the breeze or a flyover of military jets streaming trails of red, white and blue smoke. It certainly brings a warmth and tingle, but this Fourth of July will be one painfully remembered. While fireworks burst in the sky and throngs celebrated, the holiday dismally missed the mark. Some of the current world crises (and those in America) could have been momentarily displaced by the traditional sense of pride, but whatever joy could have been felt through the celebration was ruined by a sour aftertaste left in most Americans' mouths.

Essentially desecrating the hallowed ground of historic locations, President Trump's bitter barrage of hate was a new low in our nation's history. Obviously, we've had some great leaders, and some poorer ones, but even the most marginal chief executives of the past have had the decency and respect to focus on the holiday's greatest purpose: embracing and promoting brotherly unity and a renewed commitment to keeping our country's fundamental principles intact and functioning as they should.

Without any sense of patriotic responsibility, Trump, instead, chose to use our national birthday as a tawdry campaign rally, using great care to do what he does best—pointing fingers, attacking America's real patriots with threats of new laws and stiff penalties, denigrating political adversaries and focusing on the myths and legends of our less than Goody-Two-Shoes history.

In Trump's Mount Rushmore and D.C. addresses, there was no hint of a unifying message; instead, his hateful rhetoric was aimed at a verbal execution of the majority of Americans, simply for recognizing his glaring lack of fitness for the job.

Like Trump's failed leadership, his inability to make a unifying holiday address will be long remembered as our country works to fix the damage he has done. It remains to be seen if his rape of America can be repaired.

It could have been worse. Trump knew that if he used his annual Independence Day appearances to tear up the Constitution, place white-hooded Ku Klux Klan grand wizards in key domestic posts, reinstate the right to buy and sell slaves and employ spurious emergency powers to shut down the guarantees of peaceful assembly and free speech, that it would have been seen as over the top, simply offensive, and far too obvious. Trump, bless his pea-size brain, seems to have some gut-level understanding of the difference between the standards of "awful" and "outrageous."

His obsession with conspiracies rages on, with him reclassifying social reformers and activists as terrorists and enemies of our country and our way of life. For him, these are people who seek to destroy the magic of our history and throw a negative light on all that's sacred. Yet, with Trump, and his verbal diarrhea, in the White House, it's obvious who is the greatest enemy of the people.

Appealing to his rapidly shrinking base—many of whom are rethinking their position as willing martyrs for a lost cause—Trump harangued the country with his poor-me routine, stressing how essentially everyone is out to get him and how he is really the only one who can save our country. His lengthy forays into honoring national heroes who embraced slavery no doubt brought little admiration; the understanding that Americans should not be honoring the enemies of personal freedom isn't just about Democrats and liberals. It's about all of us. There is real evidence that our country is at a crossroad, and many of the once-loyal Mini-Me base are having questions of personal responsibility on how this debacle should end.

It would be wonderful if we had some ability to go back, edit the facts and create a nicer view of our 244th Independence Day, but doing so would be some sort of complicit endorsement of how Trump mangles facts and disrespects the truth. What he said should be a lasting affront to every American who believes that kindness and decency should be among the essential operating standards of our democracy.

We need to remember this, the latest of Trump's botched shots at leadership. If we don't, history will, again, repeat itself.

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More by Michael S. Robinson Sr.

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