In what is being called a “manic episode,” rapper Kanye West unleashed a torrent of non-sequiturs about his masculinity and his father while the president of the United States looked on with an awkward smile.
In an op-ed for the New York Times, commentator Charles Blow called Trump’s “use” of Kanye “callous.”
“It was all just as sad and tragic as one might have imagined,” he noted. “But, for me, too much of the focus afterward was placed on Kanye’s spectacle and not nearly enough on the callous way Trump tried to use and exploit that moment, and the degree to which we have every right to be incredulous about Trump’s manufactured concern for the criminal justice system’s propensity to chew up black lives and destroy them.”
He brought up the plea from West spouse Kim Kardashian, who pleaded with Trump to release 63-year-old Alice Marie Johnson, in prison for 20 years thus far with 22 left to go.
“How this would have happened, and maybe it was a different time, a different age, but we do need reform,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” in an interview. “And, that doesn’t mean easy. We’re going to make certain categories tougher when it comes to drug dealing and other things. But there has to be a reform because it’s very unfair right now. It’s very unfair to African-Americans. It’s very unfair to everybody.”
Blow called it “disingenuous” for Trump to claim he had no understanding that the criminal justice system over-sentences people of color. After all, he was the one who demanded the death penalty for the Central Park Five, who were found innocent. He’s also advocated that drug dealers be put to death. Attorney General Jeff Sessions backed the president up, pledging to “seek the death penalty whenever appropriate.”
Trump has attacked the ACLU for fighting “Stop and Frisk” in Chicago.
“I’ve told them to work with local authorities to try to change the terrible deal the city of Chicago entered into with ACLU,” Trump told an audience of law enforcement officers in Chicago last week. It “ties law enforcement’s hands; and to strongly consider stop-and-frisk. It works, and it was meant for problems like Chicago. It was meant for it. Stop-and-frisk.”
“The spectacle wasn’t really Kanye,” Blow explained. “The spectacle was watching Trump pretend to care about remedying a problem that he is consciously continuing to not only cheer but worsen. Kanye was just being used.”