Baltimore has something to say about Donald Trump’s racist attacks against the city and one of Maryland’s elected officials, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings. And it goes something like this: Go fuck yourself.
In response to Trump calling Cummings a “brutal bully” this weekend, and saying that his 7th congressional district, which includes part of Baltimore, “is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” The Baltimore Sun fired off a scathing editorial that is the journalistic equivalent to landing a right hook square on the jaw of a schoolyard bully.
The title lands the first blow: “Better to have a few rats than to be one.”
It notes that Cummings, the son of a South Carolina sharecropper, has served his district since 1996. It also explains to Trump how to properly spell the elder statesman’s name.
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If Trump is rattled by lawmakers initiating an impeachment inquiry in the House by seeking grand jury testimony about the president’s possible crimes, one might think he would go after Rep. Jerry Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee where impeachment investigations are taking shape.
But Nadler’s not black, so Cummings, who has called out the inhumane treatment of migrant children at the border and whose committee is investigating the possible misuse of private emails by Trump administration officials in conducting White House business, became the target of Trump and his handlers.
The Sun’s editorial noted:
It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. The congressman has been a thorn in this president’s side, and Mr. Trump sees attacking African American members of Congress as good politics, as it both warms the cockles of the white supremacists who love him and causes so many of the thoughtful people who don’t to scream. President Trump bad-mouthed Baltimore in order to make a point that the border camps are “clean, efficient & well run,” which, of course, they are not — unless you are fine with all the overcrowding, squalor, cages and deprivation to be found in what the Department of Homeland Security’s own inspector-general recently called “a ticking time bomb.”
The newspaper also observes that Trump’s tactics are a recycled version of the old racist trope of “you people” and “welfare queens.” “No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen?” Trump tweeted on Saturday.
Here’s the Sun’s kicker:
Finally, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are “good people” among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.
Baltimoreans also rallied to repudiate Trump’s racism, sharing photos of home and leisure activities in their city under the hashtags #CummingsDistrict, #BaltimoreStrong, and #BeautifulBaltimore, among others. Trump supporters also used the hashtags to share photos and videos of trash in some Baltimore neighborhoods and to defend the president’s comments. (Side note: For a good laugh, check out Baltimore’s own David Simon, who is spending considerable time dragging all of the Trump trolls and bots on Twitter, and whose responses are too numerous to share here.)
A number of people also have been pointing to Trump’s own hypocrisy regarding infrastructure upkeep. The Guardian shared a story from The New York Daily News last February reporting that the Trump Tower Grille in Manhattan was written up for having “live mice” and other health code violations.
“Mice in the kitchen, filthy food prep areas and broken sewage systems are on the list of recent stomach-turning health code violations at a number of Trump-branded restaurants in the city,” the Daily News reported at the time.
In April 2017, CNN reported that Trump’s own Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, was slapped with 13 “high priority” health violations during an inspection that year right around the time of Trump’s inauguration. Violations included undercooked seafood and raw meat stored in unhealthy temperatures. Gross.
An investigation the same year by The New York Times and ProPublica revealed that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is a terrible slumlord at residential properties managed by a company he owns—in Baltimore.
Here’s how that report described one tenant’s living conditions:
The worst troubles may have been those described in a 2013 court case involving Jasmine Cox’s unit at Cove Village. They began with the bedroom ceiling, which started leaking one day. Then maggots started coming out of the living-room carpet. Then raw sewage started flowing out of the kitchen sink. “It sounded like someone turned a pool upside down,” Cox told me. “I heard the water hitting the floor and I panicked. I got out of bed and the sink is black and gray, it’s pooling out of the sink and the house smells terrible.”
In October 2017, Maryland’s attorney general opened an investigation into Kushner’s allegedly predatory real estate business.