Saturday, August 31, 2019


The Washington Post reports on a failed effort to expand the president's understanding of history:
In his upcoming memoir, newly appointed Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III describes the private tour he gave President Trump of the National Museum of African American History and Culture....

Bunch recalls hoping the visit “would contribute to a broader understanding of race relations in America. I am ever the optimist.”

... they went into the galleries.

“The president paused in front of the exhibit that discussed the role of the Dutch in the slave trade,” Bunch writes. “As he pondered the label I felt that maybe he was paying attention to the work of the museum. He quickly proved me wrong. As he turned from the display he said to me, ‘You know, they love me in the Netherlands.’ All I could say was let’s continue walking.”
Confronted with displays documenting one of history's most profound moral outrages, Trump talks about ... himself. And not accurately. The visit took place in 2017. Here's what the Dutch actually thought of Trump, according to polling conducted that year:

According to a 2017 survey, U.S. President Donald Trump was not particularly well-liked among the Dutch. Nine out of ten respondents to a 2017 survey stated to consider Trump arrogant. Moreover, nearly 80 percent of respondents thought him intolerant, and just under 70 percent said Trump was dangerous. Trust in his capacities was low accordingly: another survey the same year found that just four percent of respondents had some sort of trust in the president.
This has me thinking about Trump's well-known aversion to travel. It's been said that he doesn't like to leave home, except to go to his own properties, because he's too much of a workaholic to take a vacation (no, really, that's what we were told in 2016), or because he prefers his own bed.

But this museum anecdote tells me the real reason. Why do people travel for pleasure? Because they want to see remarkable sights, visit places of breathtaking beauty, walk on grounds where extraordinary things took place.

That would be awful for Trump, for a simple reason: These are places where the surroundings are more interesting than he is. People would be there to focus on something other than Donald Trump. He couldn't bear it.

Yes, it's likely that Trump couldn't process what he saw at the Museum of African American History because he's racist. But he also can't tolerate the thought that anything, even history, could be more compelling than himself.

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