In Michigan, the Terror of Trumpism

Maybe he thought blowing the kid away would make America great again.

In the midst of the media madness over Stormy and Syria, it’s easy to ignore seemingly minor stories that have major implications. One such story comes to us from Michigan, where an innocent 14-year-old was nearly killed due to what can only be described as Trumpian ideology:

The 14-year-old was walking to high school after sleeping late and missing the bus when he decided to ask a neighbor for directions.

It was a banal request, but it nearly got the student from Rochester Hills, Mich., killed Thursday.

The woman who opened the door after Brennan Walker, who is black, knocked on it started yelling at him. Then the woman’s husband grabbed a shotgun and fired it at him, Walker and police officials said.

Walker told WJBK-TV that “she was like, ‘Why are you trying to break into my house?’ I was trying to explain to her that I was trying to get directions to Rochester High. And she kept yelling at me. Then the guy came downstairs, and he grabbed the gun, I saw it and started to run. And that’s when I heard the gunshot.”

After sprinting away from the house, Brennan, who was not hit, hid and broke down in tears, the outlet reported.

“I’m kind of happy that, like, I didn’t become a statistic,” Brennan told the outlet, saying his mother had told him that black boys were at risk of being shot by others.

What would make the homeowner assume that a 14-year-old kid was a dangerous home invader? What would motivate the homeowner want to grab a shotgun and take this young man’s life?

Is it too far-fetched to conclude that the homeowner likely had the same thought process Donald Trump had back in 1989 (and afterwards), when he called for the execution of the individuals falsely accused of assault in Central Park?

Anyone who thinks progressives exaggerate when they say Trump has freed Americans to act on their prejudices needs to speak to young Brennan Walker. In one moment, this young man’s hopes and dreams could have been taken from him because of the assumption that he was a criminal–an assumption promoted by the man in the White House and his political and media allies.

The horror of what happened to young Brennan Walker cannot be overstated. This young man is psychologically wounded for life. He will never forget the morning he knocked on a door asking for help–just help–and barely avoided having a bullet in his chest.

These are the bitter wages of Trumpism. This is the natural consequence of a President effectively declaring that it is moral to be malevolent towards minorities. Thanks to Trumpism, it is no longer safe for American citizens to ask for directions when they’re lost…or walk home at night after a 13-hour shift…or even wait for friends at Starbucks.

I can’t help wondering what HUD Secretary Ben Carson–or, for that matter, Diamond and Silk–would say to young Brennan Walker, and what their rationale would be for continuing to support a President who obviously doesn’t believe Walker’s life matters. Then again, it’s probably reasonable to assume they’d use the same excuses right-wing commentator Walter E. Williams used nearly two decades ago when he attempted to downplay the dangers of racial profiling. Yet there’s no excuse for what happened to Brennan Walker.

At some point, Trump will go. Yet Trumpism will remain with us, a social malady that must be resisted with as much political and cultural force as possible–because, as a real President declared over fifty years ago:

These are the stakes. To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.