Trump on the Confederate flag: Look, people love it

Trump on the Confederate flag: Look, people love it

Displaying the flag is freedom of speech, he says, which is true, but Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem was also freedom of speech. Where was this argument on Kaepernick’s behalf when the NFL decided to ban anthem protests before games a la NASCAR deciding to ban rebel flags at races?

Also, it’s not really true that “people” like the Confederate flag. Some people do. More people don’t. The majority of black people don’t, for understandable reasons.

When you make pronouncements about what “people” like, gotta be careful not to carve them out by implication.

The bottom line on the great flag debate is this: Any state where there’s apt to be a strong swell of sentiment on behalf of Confederate symbolism is a state that was already in Trump’s pocket. For everyone else, including those who otherwise might not be beyond his reach electorally due to pocketbook issues, it’s just more grist for the “he’s divisive!” mill.

This wasn’t the most important soundbite from his interview with Catherine Herridge today, though. His thoughts on reopening schools topped it:

I don’t know that anyone’s dying from the fact that kids aren’t able to go to school. What he means, I think, is that some parents who could otherwise return to work are being forced to stay home and care for their children since schools aren’t there to do it for them. That loss of income is bound to hurt families in all sorts of ways. Until now, though, the generous unemployment benefits backed by Trump and the GOP have helped rescue them from disaster. Is he suggesting here that it’s time to cut off those benefits and nudge parents to prioritize work over keeping schools closed for safety reasons?

Here’s what he’s up against in terms of public opinion. Axios didn’t ask parents to compare the health risks from COVID if schools reopen to the health risks from having to stay home with their kids throughout the fall, so we can’t say from this data that parents disagree with the president’s priorities. But we can say that they view reopening schools as pretty risky:

Under those circumstances, where they’re worried about their kids’ health and their own, hectoring them that keeping schools closed is some sort of Democratic plot to destroy him in November seems ill-advised. He’d be better off showing them this study from Germany, which found that not only are schools not a major risk for spreading the virus but that kids may act as a sort of “brake” on community spread because they’re less likely to get infected. On the other hand, there’s this ominous result from Israel in which modified schooling was going well until the government decided to fully reopen, and then…

The announcement followed a more cautious experiment of several weeks in which only children in the first, second, and third grades were brought back to classrooms, and taught in small, non-intersecting groups called “capsules.”

Hagai Levine, an epidemiologist at the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and chairman of the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, said: “There was no measurable increase in contagion” while the capsules for young children were being tried out…

Then, Levine says, “contrary to our advice, the government decided to open the entire system all at once on May 17. What happened next was entirely predictable.”

On June 3, two weeks after schools opened, more than 244 students and staff were found to test positive for COVID-19.

I want to know what Trump’s contingency plan is if/when some school somewhere reopens up and eventually there’s an outbreak among the faculty — not the kids, necessarily, but the adults, who are at greater risk of death from infection. That’s apt to convince some other schools across the country to close up shop and switch to virtual learning, as flawed as that is. Some teachers might go on strike because they feel that sufficient precautions aren’t in place at their school to guarantee safety. What’s the White House’s move when that happens? Just go out to the mics and repeat ad nauseam, “We have to reopen”? Or tell them that they have to think of themselves as pioneers, who endured hardships like occasional cannibalism in order to make America great?

I’ll leave you with this last bit from the Herridge interview, in which POTUS notes accurately that police kill more white suspects than black suspects. That’s a good defense to the charge that police are systemically racist, not so good a defense to the charge that police are too violent.

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