Back in February, Representative Elijah Cummings, a black Democrat, stood up for his friend, Representative Mark Meadows, a white Republican.
Members of Congress were fielding the testimony of President Donald Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, when Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat, accused Meadows of racism for trotting out a female black Trump appointee as a stage prop during the hearing.
“My nieces and nephews are people of color, not many people know that,” Meadows responded, fuming. “It’s racist to suggest that I asked her to come in here for that reason.”
Meadows, who recommended during the 2012 presidential campaign that Barack Obama be sent “back to Kenya,” also reminded the House of what he described as his record of combating racism. He asked Cummings, chair of the committee convening the Cohen hearing, to strike Tlaib’s comments from the record. “Mr. Chairman, you and I have a personal relationship that’s not based on color,” Meadows noted.
“If there’s anyone who’s sensitive with regard to race it’s me, the son of former sharecroppers,” Cummings replied. “You’re one of my best friends, I know that shocks a lot of people. But you are. And I can see and I feel your pain.” Cummings encouraged Tlaib to clarify that she wasn’t calling Meadows a racist personally, calmed down Meadows himself, and then moved the hearing along.
Over this past weekend Trump put Cummings and his Baltimore district in his crosshairs, tweeting at him 17 times in a racially-charged salvo of alternately bigoted, hostile and inaccurate insults that commenced at 7:14 a.m. on Saturday and concluded at 6:49 a.m. on Monday. Baltimore and its neighboring areas, the president allowed, were a “very dangerous & filthy place” and a “rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” Cummings was “incompetent” and a “brutal bully” responsible for Baltimore’s problems, a “racist” who “spends all of his time trying to hurt innocent people.” As he has done before, Trump also retweeted the musings of a far-right British pundit who is a self-described racist to make his case against Cummings.
A broad, diverse swath of Baltimore residents and supporters responded to Trump by coming to Cummings’s and their city’s defense, acknowledging that Baltimore had myriad problems, including crime and poverty, but was hardly the noxious monolith the president was slagging. #WeAreBaltimore became a ubiquitous hashtag and a rallying cry on social media. Perhaps the most poignant and powerful voice in all of that was a CNN anchor, Victor Blackwell, who was born in Baltimore and noted during a pointed, emotional broadcast on Saturday that Trump frequently uses the words “infested” and “infestation” when describing the homes or countries of people of color. [Continue reading…]