Commentary: Hail to Mr. Tough Guy, our divider in chief

On June 1 at 7 p.m., President Donald Trump appeared like George C. Scott’s Patton in front of a large American flag to announce that he was ending violence in America. He had decided to play Mr. Tough Guy to counter the image of him cowering in the basement bunker of the White House while unarmed protesters chanted outside.

Without promising to acknowledge the inequities in racial justice that triggered the demonstrations, the president said he approved peaceful protest. Then, he launched into a get-tough diatribe and – for those who didn’t recognize this as the partisan campaign rally that it was – he even added that he was defending the Second Amendment.

As he spoke, police confronting the peaceful, mostly white, student-age demonstrators in the street in front of the White House charged into the crowd, knocking kids down. The heavily armored, shield- and baton-wielding police were followed by a row of mounted cops in a scene that would do justice to the tsar’s cavalry, accompanied by tear gas and flash-bangs for additional effect.

The reason for the violent end to the peaceful demonstration was soon apparent as our great leader himself strode out of the White House and across the now-empty street. He was accompanied by a coterie of all-white followers including the attorney general, the press secretary and his daughter and son-in-law. Mr. Trump stopped in front of the “church of presidents” (which he very rarely attends), turned and held up a Bible. He said nothing. It was all a photo op. Jesus could hardly have been entertained.

After posing for a few pictures, Mr. Trump was apparently satisfied and triumphantly returned to the White House. Someone on staff confided to the press that this skit was enacted by and for the president so that people wouldn’t laugh at him. Ironically, the church bulletin board that he stood in front of announced support for peaceful protests. At the same time, a split-screen image of the painting of the slain George Floyd in Minneapolis looked like the image on the Shroud of Turin.

This charade was characteristic of President Trump. He isn’t capable of compassion or interested in unity. He is our preeminent divider in chief. His reign has been marked by increased economic inequality and skyrocketing debt, but the hallmarks of his single term in office will be the tragically bungled virus pandemic, economic collapse and racial violence. Pray that he doesn’t get a second term and please remember to vote in November. Hopefully, our country will still be recognizable by then.

Mike Apgar