President Trump’s harsh and angry tweets about the social conditions and hygienic disaster in Baltimore directed at Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings were undoubtedly in bad taste. It is understandable, therefore, that The Baltimore Sun editorial board felt compelled to respond in kind, which it did in a scathing editorial that compared the president to “vermin.”
But the piece went too far when it then blamed the president for Baltimore’s problems with the rationale that “they are as much his responsibility as anyone’s, perhaps more because he holds the most powerful office in the land.” This is a specious argument at best. Perhaps the office of the president over the successive administrations who have coincided with a declining and rotting city could have helped in some way. But Baltimore’s problems predate the Trump presidency by decades, and have been exacerbated, not as much by presidential inaction, but Baltimore’s own failed leadership.
No one likes to have people talk ill of their neighborhood—even if it is one filled with as many seemingly intractable problems as Baltimore faces. But the sad reality is The Baltimore Sun, its editors, and many city officials including Rep. Cummings sat idly by while the inner city crumbled and imploded. Their strategy for improving the situation? Hope—and, as it turns out, not an inconsiderable amount of corruption. Baltimore has true legacy problems. But to blame others is not good government. The Baltimore Sun’s editorial team needs a refresher course in Civics 101.
In defense of the president he has implemented several measures that can potentially help blighted communities like Baltimore regain their luster. Foremost among them is the president’s initiative for Opportunity Zones, which facilitate private investment that is specifically targeted towards bringing industry and creating jobs in underserved communities. What if, instead of critiquing the president, Baltimore’s leadership were to take him up on his offer and come up with creative solutions that can attract private investment that would bring jobs, tax revenue, and badly needed infrastructure improvements to the city?
A true assessment of the legacy problems facing Baltimore has to start with a hard look at what folks are doing wrong. Why is it that Baltimore’s most elite police unit—The Gun Trace taskforce—was able to operate like an armed drug gang for years without oversight? Why is it that Baltimore’s schools are among the worst in the entire country? Why does the murder rate in Baltimore continue to run rampant? There are a lot of things that could be accomplished with a fair bit of introspection and perspective, rather than pointing the finger.
In fact, Congressman Cummings should be at the front of the line in pushing for a Federal Blue-Ribbon review of his entire district and city. That’s the change we all hope for and desperately need. Sadly, one of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s objective. Election and power are. Somehow, amidst all of the grandstanding, real solutions usual get pushed by the wayside.
The Baltimore Sun calling Trump racist, trash, and any harsh name you can muster, doesn’t excuse Baltimore’s elected officials of failed leadership that has allowed exasperating crime (at present it is considered one of the most dangerous cities in America), and one of the worst education systems in the world, with large sections of what should be a beautiful town overrun by vacancy and decay. Playing the race card is losing its luster and once coveted prestige. It loses its potency when a largely Black leadership has run the entire city for decades while problems have festered. Donald Trump did not preside over the destruction of Baltimore and the failure of its residents. If he had, could you even imagine the righteous indignation and shrill screams about the deplorable conditions in Baltimore you’d hear from the left? But because the city is run by liberal Democrats, it’s almost like the offense to Black residents of having to live amidst such a mess goes unmentioned.
What’s more racist: The president’s harsh remarks, or the harsh actions (and inaction) of the decades of liberal leadership that have failed the people of Baltimore? You can’t play the race card to excuse what the world and citizens of Baltimore witness daily. You can and must do better.
Armstrong Williams is manager/sole owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the year. Listen to Mr. Williams on Sirius XM126 Urban View nightly 6:00-8:00pm EST. Follow on Twitter: @arightside