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Columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr.—“This election showed us just who we are as a nation—and it’s not very pretty”



Leonard Pitts, Jr. is a journalist and the winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Like tens of millions of people in the U.S., he is celebrating the defeat of Trump in the election. As he wrote, “Certainly, this is a glad moment, an ecstatic and delirious moment…. Trump is finally consigned to the dank well of ignominy he so richly deserves.” But, as he points out in a series of recent columns, there are stark realities about this country, its history, and the current situation that people must confront.

In “This election showed us just who we are as a nation—and it’s not very pretty,” Pitts notes that “even in defeat, Trump actually improved on his 2016 popular vote count by—at this writing—roughly 7 million.”

In “What about what’s good for us?” Pitts writes, “I view this moment through the prism of an African-American man who is a student of history. And one thing that prism has impressed on me is how often this country has sold out Black people in the name of some supposedly greater good.

“It happened at the founding, when a condemnation of slavery was removed from the Declaration of Independence to appease the Southern colonies. It happened in 1877 when Rutherford B. Hayes won the presidency in a disputed election after striking a backroom deal to withdraw from the South federal troops who had been protecting black rights – and lives. It happened in the early 20th century when the Senate refused to pass anti-lynching legislation for fear of angering the South. It happened in 1961 when Attorney General Robert Kennedy agreed to the illegal arrest of the Freedom Riders as Mississippi’s price for protecting them from white-supremacist mobs. It happened in 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson blocked a racially mixed delegation from being seated at the Democratic convention because that would offend the South.

“Now in 2020, this great-grandson of slaves is expected, in the name of a supposedly greater good, to seek reconciliation with followers of one of the most flagrantly racist—not to mention misogynistic, xenophobic and Islamophobic—presidents in history?

“In a word: No. In another word: Enough….”

Another recent Pitt column is “Donald Trump may look like he’s fully clothed, but in reality…

At this critical moment—when Trump and the fascists have been dealt a big defeat but still present a dangerous threat as they try to stay in power—these columns by Pitts are important for people to check out. And it would be good if there was a lot more truth-telling like this from people in the media and others with a public voice.

Leonard Pitts, Jr.



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