President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Rickter Scale: The one step forward, two steps back Trump trot

The Rickter Scale is a weekly column

Rick Stiebel/Columnist

The ugly underbelly of racism is an open, fetid wound that knows no borders.

The true north may be strong, but we are far from free of the fester that oozes in ebbs and flows from the home of the brave where our American neighbours reside.

Every time President Donald Trump slings another assault on his current favourite targets, four congresswomen of colour, he encourages more like-minded people to nod in silent agreement. He emboldens more hordes, sometimes with their children at their sides, to chant “Send her back!” at his next rally.

This is nothing new for Trump, but part of a political strategy with roots in what unfolded during an August weekend on the streets of Charlottesville, Va. two long, hot summers ago. In the aftermath of a woman protesting racism who was murdered by a member of the Tiki torch brigade, Trump received salutes from his base for defending marchers that included Neo-Nazis as “very fine people.”

READ MORE: Rickter Scale

Is that kind of rhetoric responsible in part for empowering three white University of Mississippi students with ear to ear grins photographed cradling rifles next to a bullet-riddled memorial for Emmett Till?

Emmett was only 14 when he visited his mother’s family in Money, Miss. during another hot August in 1955. He was dragged out of his bed at 2:30 in the morning by Roy Bryant and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, just hours after Emmett had stopped after a long day of picking cotton to buy some bubble gum at Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market.

Rumour had it that Emmett had either whistled at, flirted with or touched the hand of Bryant’s wife, Carolyn Bryant, the white woman behind the counter. The two men savagely beat Emmett and shot him in the head before dumping his barb-wire bound body, weighed down by a large metal fan, into the Tallahatchie River.

Despite the testimony of a black witness who identified both men, it took an all-white all-male jury only seven minutes longer than an episode of Law and Order to acquit both men of all charges.

Less than six months later Bryant and Milam, shielded by the laws of double jeopardy, admitted to the kidnapping and murder and sold their story to Look magazine for $4,000. According to several sources, Carolyn Bryant added more horror to what happened when she admitted in 2007 that she had lied about Emmett making any kind of advance to her.

Although it’s easy to relieve some of the burden that remains on our collective conscience by focusing on the fact the ensuing outrage simmered hot enough to help spark the civil rights movement, one question should continue to haunt us 64 years after Emmett’s senseless death.

How far have we moved forward in the war on racism, and how many steps backwards is Donald Trump determined to take us in his shameless quest for reelection in 2020?

Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Thousands of cigarette butts collected and recycled from downtown Victoria

Canisters placed throughout the downtown core have made an impact on local litter

Road work on Island Highway could cause some delays in View Royal

Temporary lane closures from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. between Beaumont and View Royal avenues

Pet photos with Santa funds pair of Greater Victoria animal-friendly organizations

Broadmead Centre Pets West hosts the events Nov. 30 and Dec. 1

Two reports of prowlers in one night in Esquimalt

VicPD notes simple changes can help prevent crime around your home

SD63 students calling on the province to step in and end strike

SD63 students to gather at Minister of Education’s office while strike continues into third week

VIDEO: Disney Plus gives Canadians a streaming platform that nearly matches U.S. version

The Walt Disney Company’s new subscription platform unveiled a comprehensive offering of nearly 500 films

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Former Vancouver Canucks player suing financial advisors for negligence

Jason Garrison claimed his advisors failed to take his circumstances into account

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

B.C. teacher said he would use student to ‘whack’ two others on Grade 8 field trip

Campbell River teacher-on-call suspended three weeks after November 2018 incident

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Bill Murray dons iconic Hudson’s Bay scarf to watch Canucks game in Vancouver

Murray is in Vancouver to film The Now, a mini-series directed by Peter Farrelly

Canadian allergists’ group wants Benadryl behind the counter due to side effects

Some doctors say the medication is over-used because of its easy availability

B.C. government grappling with multiple labour disputes by public-sector unions

Public-sector unions may have expectations of a labour-friendly NDP government

Most Read