Last month, Donald Trump blasted Los Angeles and San Francisco as once-great cities that have been “devastated” by “the left-wing agenda.” In July, Baltimore was the president’s target. Atlanta and Philadelphia have also been on the receiving end of the Republican’s scorn.
Yesterday, it was apparently Chicago’s turn. The Associated Press reported:
Visiting Chicago for the first time as president, Donald Trump disparaged the city Monday as a haven for criminals that is “embarrassing to us as a nation.” The city’s top cop sat out Trump’s speech to protest the president’s immigration policies and frequently divisive rhetoric.
According to the official transcript, the president told the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference, “All over the world, they’re talking about Chicago. Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison. It’s true.”
If pressed, I imagine Trump could tell us all about the imagined conversations he’s had with people from around the globe, many of whom marveled at Chicago’s crime rate. The stories would no doubt feature a lot of people who repeatedly used the word “sir” and were crying during their conversations with the president.
But putting that aside, what amazes is just how frequently the American president takes aim at communities in his own country.
There’s a strain of conservative thought that insists that the left is made up of snobs who think they’re superior – culturally, intellectually – to people who live outside of metropolitan areas. I’ve long found the complaints unpersuasive, but I’ve lost count of how many far-right events I’ve covered in which speakers have told audiences, “These liberals think they’re better than you.”
It’s against this backdrop that the Republican president has spent a fair amount of time denouncing urban areas – places with large minority populations and home to many immigrants – with scorn and contempt. As Trump put it yesterday, he considers major American cities like Chicago to be “embarrassing” to the country.
The political inverse is unfathomable. Imagine a Democratic president condemning a deep-red state – in the South, in the Plains, wherever – as being an international embarrassment. He or she would face widespread criticisms, not just for disparaging his or her own constituents, but for demonstrating an ugly elitism.
And yet Trump routinely blasts American cities he doesn’t like – which is to say, parts of the country that didn’t vote for him – as places he believes are deserving of his disdain.
It doesn’t seem to occur to the president that he represents the whole country, not just the parts filled with people he considers political allies.