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Est. April 5, 2002
 
           
May 03, 2018 - Issue 740




On Trump’s Balcony

"Imagine the nightmare: On a balcony in Washington, DC,
sits the Leader of the 'free world', flanked by his
brothers, Kanye West and Ben Carson. All is well for
these guys, drinking coffee 'in the normal way.'"




Greed and fear exposed themselves without shame and suppressed

all tender feeling. We all had to recognize during those weeks that

the scales we had used for weighing were no longer accurate. Those

nearest to us or those whom we called friends either kept complete

silence or evaded their duty with a few shabby words about the hard

times that made it impossible for them to help.

 Hans Erich Nossack, The End: Hamburg 1943


It wasn’t white folks - that much she could tell - so it must be colored

ones. And then she knew. Her friends and neighbors were angry at

her because she had overstepped, given too much, offended them

by excess.

Toni Morrison, Beloved (Baby Suggs)

Allied bombs have come and gone, and, in an instant, home in Hamburg disappears. Two people, a man and a woman, crawling from under their makeshift shelter, begin walking in disbelief, in search of their street, their home.

Everywhere is the midst and the rubble. At some point, the two people stop and look up “spellbound.” In the middle of total chaos, there’s a woman cleaning a window of the only house intact. Maybe it’s one incidence of “madness,” the man thinks, as the couple continue walking. But soon, their nudging each other as they look on—rubble everywhere, but here are children raking the front yard of their home.

And then, one afternoon, thinking they have seen it all, the two find themselves in a suburb that has been “completely undestroyed.” When the two look up, they see people, on their balconies, drinking coffee!

This image, described in the late German novelist Hans Erich Nossack’s The End: Hamburg, 1943 of him and his wife coming upon people drinking coffee on their balconies, doesn’t escape W.G. Sebald’s attention 50 years later. In On the Natural History of Destruction, Sebald recognizes the necessity for a principled witness who, in turn, asks of contemporaries and future generations to imagine a world, visible, one second, and, in the next, all destroyed.

Reduced to fragments. Unusable.

Close your eyes.” Sebald does, we do, too, because this is what happens to people after we’re made to no longer able to recognize the rubble around us. We start in this moment, accessing the surroundings, acknowledging in the end, that we, too, have seen people sitting on balconies.

And we have seen these people before.

Born in 1944 in Wertach im Allg´┐Żu, Germany, Sebald thinks he’s reading a “movie” scene. But he’s not planning to turn away. Already in search of those unflinching witnesses who try to find the language to convey the horror, Sebald, the younger man, starts to feel as alienated as the older man must have felt in that moment when he’s confronted, writes Sebald,“by a lack of moral sensitivity bordering on inhumanity.”

Nossack: People think it’s a matter of mourning for lost things or middle-class comforts. That’s not it at all.

Sebald: No, that’s not it at all.

Nossack: How about telling it at “dusk,” as “a fairy tale”?

And Sebald: No fairy tale necessary…

You do not expect,” Sebald responds, “an insect colony to be transfixed with grief at the destruction of a neighboring anthill, but you do assume a certain degree of empathy in human nature, and to that extent there is indeed something alarmingly absurd and shocking about continuing to drink coffee in the normal way on Hamburg balconies at the end of July 1943.”

In the US, no fairy tale should be necessary, but we live in a culture indulging in the prequels and sequels of featuring superheroes…

I see elephants. Emphatic. They’ve been captured on film, standing around a deceased calf or adult. A herd of elephants mourning the loss of a calf. Even when a herd encounters the remains of a dead elephant—an elephant not of their herd, but a fellow elephant, nonetheless, a member of their species, nonetheless—the herd stops, encircle the remains, and in doing so, each member of the herd acknowledges a connection to and empathy for the one succumbed, most likely, to some form of violence.

Black Americans have a tradition to call upon to in times of crisis. And when have we not been in crisis? When has the catastrophe come to an end? Only the lost feel free and carry on “in the normal way,” as if all aboard the ship have been saved. They aren’t even aware of being covered in the debris of the rubble…

On April 25, 2018, on Twitter, one of the most influential rappers, Kanye West, sends a selfie of himself sporting a MAGA cap, and, declaring, unabashedly, his support for Trump, says Trump’s his “brother.” The rapper follows with a release of songs, defending his support for Trump. What has Trump done with his racist utterances but encourage the continuation of indifference toward the experiences of Blacks in America. In the meantime, the Black Lives Matter Movement is just a bunch of whiners!

On the same day, Ben Carson, the HUD Secretary, also, in his way, declared his support for Trump by announcing a proposal to triple the rent of low-income, federally subsidized renters, along with imposing, according to a Washington Post report, “work requirements.” Triple the rent! And where and what kind of jobs are we talking about? But Carson’s not asking these questions.

Trump’s his “brother” too.

Laugh, at your expense! This is white supremacy looks like too! Embracing ignorance isn’t free. There are consequences for recklessly indulging in ignorance and cruelty. And indifference is cruel. It has proven deadly in the face of greed and fear. The indifference of a Kanye West and a Ben Carson, shouldn’t be taken lightly. Nossack recalls how the “fend for yourself” mindset was, at one time, just a fairy tale to scare children.

In 2018, the West’s and the Carson’s are overstepping…

Imagine the nightmare: On a balcony in Washington, DC, sits the Leader of the “free world”, flanked by his brothers, Kanye West and Ben Carson. All is well for these guys, drinking coffee “in the normal way.”

And what brand of coffee might that be?


BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member and Columnist, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Contact Dr. Daniels.
 



 
 

 

 

is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
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