Pardon Our Analysis*

June 9, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


Giving Trump “credit” for pardoning the unjustly imprisoned 63-year-old Alice Johnson (at the request of Kim Kardashian)—while the machinery of mass incarceration is being ramped up, while he simultaneously continues to attack Black athletes for daring to protest, while children are being torn from their parents by ICE, and while 100 other things hurtle us down the road to full-out fascism—is nothing but giving “Massa” credit for sparing one slave a whipping so as to “prove” his fairness and benevolence. It is nothing but giving Hitler credit for “easing up” on the attacks against Jews before the Berlin Olympics (to change the “optics” of that event to normalize Nazi Germany) while the machinery of death is assembled, greased, and put into gear. Everything Trump does is in the service of clamping down fascism, period. Beyond its obvious intent—and apparent success—in creating confusion and distracting attention from what’s really happening, this move in particular is part of his campaign to normalize the notion of Trump pardoning people at his imperial whim—something he is doing to set things up for pardoning his henchmen and himself, if it comes to that.

But instead of exposing the cynicism, crude manipulation, and danger behind this move of Trump’s, instead of sounding the alarm, people like Van Jones, Linda Sarsour, and others have used their platform and “cred” to call on people to give credit (!) to Trump for “doing something good.” This stance is beyond idiotic; it is a betrayal. It misleads people, it lowers their guard, it befuddles them—in short, it does damage, incalculable damage, to what is badly needed, which is recognition of just how dangerous this regime is. And it is a crude political calculation—the reduction of Trump to a “normal politician,” all the better to justify channeling people’s outrage into the “normal” and utterly ineffectual (and deadly) channels and confines of the system that brought forward (and is now controlled by) Trump and Pence, and which Jones, Sarsour, and the rest either have gotten or are stepping down the road of wanting to get in on.

Finally: The fact that Trump is now calling on NFL players and other professional athletes to submit names of “friends” who should have pardons shows even further the cynicism of the deal being offered: stop your demonstrations during the anthem (in other words, shut the fuck up and betray your principles and the masses of people), and I’ll help your friends! And it also reinforces the notion that Trump’s pardon power is and should be unlimited and Trump himself floats above the rule of law altogether.


*With appreciation for the late, great Gil Scott-Heron, who did a song called “We Beg Your Pardon (Pardon Our Analysis).” [back]



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