Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
Donald Trump is not telekinetic. His brain may be a medical marvel, but for terrible reasons, not because he can move objects with his mind. Nonetheless, Trump recently took credit for keeping airplanes all around the world from crashing in 2017.
“Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation,” the (I still can’t believe this person is) president tweeted Tuesday morning. “Good news – it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!”
Yet there hasn’t been a fatal airline crash in the U.S. since 2009, and the current head of the FAA is Obama appointee Michael Huerta. If we’re going to go around arbitrarily assigning credit for planes staying in the sky, maybe we should give it to the guy whose job description includes “the safety and efficiency of the largest aerospace system in the world.” Or maybe pilots, or possibly airplane mechanics. Or according to Trump’s logic, every single person in the world who took a flight this year, since I’m sure we all were “very strict” about our wish not to die in a plane crash.
Trump regularly takes credit for things he had no part in, from job deals struck under Obama‘s presidency, to coal jobs that don’t exist, to ending mandatory jail sentences for saying, “Merry Christmas.” If he demands credit for every good thing—including the stuff he just makes up—that means taking the blame for the bad as well. Particularly since he actually played a part in a lot of awful recent events.
With that in mind, here are just six things for which Trump actually deserves credit.
1. The worst year in mass shootings.
“This isn’t a guns situation,” Trump claimed in a mind-boggling statement after a man with a gun killed 26 people at a Texas church. (The guy was white, thankfully, or it would have been terrorism.)
That shooting came roughly one month after a gunman killed 58 people and injured more than 500 others in Las Vegas, a situation Trump nonsensically described as a “miracle.” If the shooting had been in Chicago (both the city and the GOP racist dog whistle), it would have triggered a threat to “send in the feds!”
Instead, Trump ($30.3 million from the NRA) and his complicit congressional Republicans ($54 million from the NRA in 2016) did nothing but issue useless post-massacre “thoughts and prayers.” At the very least, they deserve to split credit for 2017 being the deadliest year for mass shootings in modern history. There were 345 mass killing incidents, resulting in 574 deaths.
2. The death of more than 1,000 Americans in Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Maria was a devastating natural disaster, but there was nothing natural about the death toll that followed the storm. Trump’s response wavered between callous indifference and general ineptitude, and both were echoed throughout his cabinet and party. As Puerto Ricans struggled without drinkable water or electricity, Trump tweeted insults about the island’s debts, claimed relief efforts were hampered by “big water…ocean water,” and nodded to his racist base with complaints that survivors “want[ed] everything to be done for them.”
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz’s increasingly impatient appeals for help were met with rude, misogynist responses, which Trump tweeted from the comfort of his luxury golf course. Meanwhile, survivors were driven to drink from toxic water sources out of sheer desperation. When Trump finally did visit the island, he was his typical buffoonish self, demanding praise from local politicians and essentially insinuating residents should be grateful thousands more hadn’t perished. Did I mention he thought it was a good idea to pelt survivors with rolls of paper towels? Because Trump is the worst. Not worst president. Just worst ever.
The official death tally for Puerto Rico remains at 64, but that gross underestimate is based solely on the number of people killed by the storm. Far more have died as a result of the Trump administration’s abysmal response. A New York Times investigation puts the toll closer to 1,050. On December 29, the governor’s office announced that “approximately 55 percent of the customerswho are able to receive electric power have their service restored.” An unacceptable number of people remain without potable water.
Back on the mainland last week, Trump visited one of his golf courses for the 92nd time since he was elected. According to Trump Golf Count (a site that does just one thing, but stays awful busy), the estimated cost of those visits to taxpayers is at least $46,239,580.
3. A three-year high in coal miner deaths.
In the rare moments when they were not being interviewed about their unwavering support for Trump by the New York Times, coal miners mostly watched as their jobs continued to disappear. (By simply lying about the number of new coal jobs, Trump easily countered this observable reality among his gullible base.) Even more tragically, the number of coal miner deaths rose to 15 last year after hitting a record low of 8 in 2016.
In mid-December, the Trump administration’s mining regulators wrote that they may be considering getting rid of Obama-era rules around coal and rock dust designed to safeguard against black lung. “I think it’s a very bad signal for coal miners…I don’t think the Trump administration has coal miners’ best interests at heart. They’re aligned with coal mine operators as opposed to miners, and the only reasons they would want to reopen these rules or revisit these rules are to weaken them,” Tony Oppegard, a Kentucky attorney who represents miners, told the Associated Press.
Back in 1990, Trump told Playboy magazine, “The coal miner gets black-lung disease, his son gets it, then hisson. If I had been the son of a coal miner, I would have left the damn mines. But most people don’t have the imagination–or whatever–to leave their mine. They don’t have ‘it.’”
4. Hate crimes soaring.
During his overtly racist campaign, assailants involved in numerous hate crimesbegan citing Trump as their source of inspiration. That pattern continued following Trump’s election, with the SPLC tallying 1,863 bias crimes between November 9 March 31. After a rise in anti-Muslim crimes during Trump’s candidacy in 2016, a recent report by the Council on American-Islamic Relationsidentifies 2017 as one of the worst years on record for Islamophobic attacks. The Anti-Defamation League found that by September 30, there were more anti-Semitic incidents, “including physical assaults, vandalism, and attacks on Jewish institutions” than in the whole of 2016. Also in September, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino catalogued a precipitous increase in hate crimes in large cities, including those filled with “liberal” types:
In New York City, hate crimes jumped 28.4 percent; in Los Angeles by 13 percent; in Philadelphia by 9 percent; in Chicago, by 8.3 percent, and in Phoenix, Arizona, by a whopping 46 percent. Houston, the nation’s No. 4 city, bucked the trend, reporting five incidents through July 31, the same number as last year.
Richard Collins III, a black Bowie State University student and serviceman, was stabbed to death by a white racist in October. Timothy Caughman, an African American, was murdered by a sword-wielding white supremacist who said the killing was a “practice run” for a rash of racist killings he planned to undertake. A bunch of “White Lives Matter” thugs, including uber-Nazi Matthew Heimbach, attacked an interracial couple in Tennessee. Symbols of racist terror, including a series of nooses left at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, abounded.
Trump said a group of white racist marchers in Charlottesville, among them the man who struck and killed Heather Heyer with his vehicle, included “some very fine people.” The quote led countless detractors to accuse Trump of being a white supremacist, but that’s only because he totally is.
5. Related, the precipitous rise in schoolyard bullying.
The Racist-Bully-in-Chief has led by example from the moment he hit the campaign trail:
In a survey of K-12 educators in the months before Trump’s election win, the SPLC found a precipitous rise in incidents of racist bullying. In the weeks after November 8, a poll of 10,000 K-12 teachers, counselors and administrators found an uptick in the “use of slurs and derogatory language, and disturbing incidents involving swastikas, Nazi salutes and Confederate flags.” Roughly 90 percent of respondents said the “school climate has been negatively affected, and most of them believe it will have a long-lasting impact.” Similarly, “80 percent describe heightened anxiety and concern on the part of students worried about the impact of the election on themselves and their families.”
A Buzzfeed News analysis of data from the Documenting Hate Project turned up “more than 50 incidents, across 26 states, in which a K-12 student invoked Trump’s name or message in an apparent effort to harass a classmate during the past school year.” A survey from the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access at the University of California at Los Angeles, found “more than 20 percent of teachers reported heightened polarization on campus and incivility in their classrooms…[and] 27.7 percent of teachers reported an increase in students making derogatory remarks about other groups during class discussions.” A number of teachers interviewed “described how the political environment ‘unleashed’ virulently racist, anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, or homophobic rhetoric in their schools and classrooms.”
“Individuals who do harbor perspectives and racism and bigotry now feel empowered to offer their views more naturally in class discussions, which has led to tension, and even conflict in the classroom,” one Indiana teacher stated.
“I had students stand up in the middle of class and directly address their peers with racial slurs,” an Ohio teacher said. “This is not something I have seen before.”
6. International travel to the U.S. plummeted.
As early as March, the travel industry was forecasting a decline in the number of visitors to America from other countries and predicting a loss of billions in tourism dollars. The drop-off was dubbed the Trump Slump, mostly because the president is awful and his name should be associated with the awful things his presidency causes. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce National Travel and Tourism, international travel to America fell 4 percent last year over 2016. While there was a drop-off in visitors from every world region, the decline was most pronounced with Middle East visitors from obvious reasons.
The only region that saw an increase in U.S. visitors was Canada, and they’re only coming here to remind Trump he lost that handshake battle with Trudeau.
Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.