Trump, Klacik wrong about Baltimore but not the danger of one-party rule
For years, Democrats have largely failed to rebut President Trump's hollow populist rhetoric on many points. President Donald Trump and Kim Klacik's calculated abuse of "Black Butterfly" Baltimore neighborhoods ("On Twitter, Trump calls Baltimore 'WORST IN NATION,'" Sept. 6) is a case in point. There are two typical responses that have been repeated in enough places to make it safe to assume that these are more or less official Democratic counterpoints.
By Owen S. Andrews
September 9, 2020
Bad rebuttal No. 1: "Baltimore isn't ugly! Baltimore is beautiful!" [Note: I agree.] "Just look at these beautiful photos of Fells Point, Canton, Mount Vernon and other 'White L' and adjacent neighborhoods."
- Bad rebuttal No. 2: "Some Baltimore neighborhoods are suffering, but it's not because of us Democrats like President Trump and Ms. Klacik say it is. It is because of systemic racism, and over five decades of uninterrupted complete Democratic control of City Hall, a century-long majority in the General Assembly, control of the Governor's Mansion for 130 of the last 170 years, and control of the federal government for a majority of the last century are incidental to systemic racism. The Democratic Party operates outside of systemic racism."
Those rebuttals fail because they largely operate within Mr. Trump's frame, do not offer an accurate counter-explanation of the problem, and do not offer new solutions to it. More accurate, effective and forceful rebuttals are the following variations on the above.
Good rebuttal No. 1: Black Baltimore is beautiful! This is best shown, not told, through arts, culture and direct action including D. Watkins' books, Aaron Henkin and Wendel Patrick's podcast "Out of the Blocks," the scholarship of Lawrence Brown, Lawrence Grandpre and Karsonya Wise Whitehead, the arts-based organizing Sheila Gaskins, and the community organizing of Destiny Watford, to name just a few examples.
- Good rebuttal No. 2: Systemic racism is one of the knottiest root causes of Baltimore's struggles. Both corporate-funded political parties — all political parties, but especially those with governance power in Maryland — are among the institutions most responsible. Excluding the post-Richard Nixon overtly racist Republican Party of Donald Trump from local and (for the most part) state governance power for a half-century has not been nearly enough for Baltimore to thrive. The necessary work is not only to defeat Republicans in gubernatorial and presidential elections, but to pressure the Democratic Party to be less racist and more accountable to its working class, Black female base.
The best way to make those good rebuttals valid is to fund and support Black art, thought and community organizing, and to grow a viable anti-racist party to the left of the Democratic Party to hold it accountable by restoring two-party democracy in Baltimore City Hall.
Owen S. Andrews, Baltimore
The writer is co-chair of the Baltimore City Green Party