Bettye LaVette, the revenge of a Lady Soul

Bettye LaVette entered the 2020 Blues Hall of Fame from Memphis (Tennessee) where she joins for posterity Bessie Smith and Ray Charles, Billie Holiday and Chuck Berry… as well as so many other great artists. At 74, with Blackbirds, a splendid album released on the Verve (Universal) label, Bettye LaVette, returns to the light as one of the great African-American performers of her generation.

A life of ups and downs

In Bettye LaVette, we find the passion of a Nina Simone, the commitment of a Mavis Staples, the smoothness of a Marvin Gaye. Blackbirds, on which flourishes his hoarse and sensual timbre, gives the full measure of his talent. The soul vocalist performs songs associated with African-American artists to whom she pays tribute: Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson, or even Billie Holiday, whose protest hymn she dares. Strange Fruit. Among other well-chosen titles, she adds Blackbird, signed Lennon-McCartney, which she appropriates with such conviction that it seems to have been written for her.

A feat comparable to the one she achieved in 2018 by seizing songs from Bob Dylan for the album Things Have Changed, also on the Verve label, craftsman of its artistic renaissance.

→ CRITICAL. The legendary Motown label celebrates its 60th anniversary

Because Bettye LaVette is a survivor. An African-American singer launched in 1962 by a hit: My Man – He’s a Lovin’Man. From Michigan, Betty Haskins (her real name) is 16, a pretty voice, a trendy hairstyle, colorful dresses. The public is crazy about this young singer with a caressing tone and communicative energy. She was top of the bill during the 1960s with two other big hits, the heartbreaking soul ballad Let Me Down Easy in 1965 and a last big hit Rythm and Blues, He Made a Women out of Me in 1969.

“I was leaping like a little dog”

With disco and the ever-renewed appeal of new sensations, the music industry is forgetting about it. Fortunately, not the public. And above all, she never lets go of the song. She accepts small roles, performs on stage failing to record, plays in a musical … What she tells frankly in her autobiography A women like me, published in 2012 (not translated). “In this job, I took more hits than anything else. But as soon as someone snapped their fingers to remind me, I would jump like a little dog and be there. “

The trials of this life made up of ups and downs, her voice has reproduced them with intensity since her comeback in 2005 with the impressive I’ve got my own hell to raise. And we rejoice in her perseverance by seeing her finally recognized in the measure of her talent. The tribute paid to her by Barack Obama, for whom she sang during his inauguration ceremony for the presidency of the United States in 2009, has a lot to do with it. But if the recognition comes late, the bliss offered by Bettye LaVette is intact.


“Black Panthers”, once upon a time there was the African-American revolution

What remains of the Black Panthers today? The question quickly arises at the sight of the documentary in two parts that Arte devotes to the revolutionary and anti-racist movement. In the evocation of the movement, returns first its aesthetic, ultra documented at the time and highlighted in the film: armed militants, afro cut, leather jackets, berets and dark glasses.

→ CRITICAL. Frantz Fanon, a reflection on black consciousness on France Culture

From 1966 to 1982, the Black Panther Party was the instrument of post-Martin Luther King Afro-American emancipation. That of black activists who no longer wanted to turn the other cheek. Those who, rather than fighting in Vietnam for the American empire, have chosen to fight in their own country, against white domination but also against capitalism and American patriarchal society.

A current movement, 50 years later

Thanks to the contribution of numerous archival images, Stanley Nelson’s film plunges us back into the context of a time when counter-cultures opposed racism and violence, which were nevertheless omnipresent. Soul music from the late 1960s and Emory Douglas drawings in the mind « Black is beautiful » evoke current events. A hymn of movement, Revolution has come, was repeated in June 2020 by singer Camélia Jordana during a rally calling for justice for Adama Traoré. Just as an illustration of Emory Douglas was updated by the artist on the occasion of the movement. Black Lives Matter in the USA.

The cinematographic device of the documentary helps to make the movement current. The witnesses are as much the former activists as the leaders of the time Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, questioned in the thick of the events. The film shows the limits the party encountered and which led to its downfall. In addition to the police repression, the ego wars of the leaders, sometimes armed, and the purges of militants went so far as to weaken the party at the base, as the FBI had foreseen.


In North Carolina, Asheville wants to compensate its black residents for slavery

When working in his studio, Joseph Pearson likes to let his mind wander to the beat of the music on his radio. These days, she brings him back to his past: the septuagenarian paints a series of portraits dedicated to the women who have marked his life. He has just completed the one for his aunt, pictured barefoot in the Mississippi countryside.

“Reparations”, a debate that fascinates and divides the black population

But his mind does not always have time to wander. Listening to his favorite radio station – WRES, a local station that caters particularly to African Americans in Asheville – he often feels the need to put down his brushes and listen to the debates, arms crossed on his colorful apron from Texas. Because a question fascinates, and divides, the African-American community of this commune of North Carolina: the “repairs”.

→ READ. Police fire multiple bullets in the back of black man in Wisconsin

In July, the city adopted, unanimously by the seven members of the city council, a resolution presenting the apologies of the municipality for slavery and segregation, but also the main principles of a plan of “repairs” to the city. attention of the black population. A commission will soon be appointed to define the details of this ambitious and revolutionary project.

Asheville’s Repentance, Converted to Black Lives Matter

Like all communities in the southern United States, Asheville – a city of 93,000 inhabitants, 12% of whom were blacks – prospered before the Civil War thanks to slavery. And had never repented of it until now. In the small main square still stands an obelisk over 20 meters high, tribute to Zebulon Baird Vance, who was in turn an officer of the Confederate army, governor of the state and senator of the United States. With always the same line of conduct: the domination of whites.

The city, now known for its progressivism, wants to make amends. A large “Black Lives Matter” sign has been painted on the pavement of the main square, around the obelisk now partially hidden behind planks and plastic. “Black” is the work of Joseph. In the “L” he painted the black-gloved fist of medalists at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

Donate fish… or learn to fish?

Joseph remembers the 1960s, when he first entered the electoral roll. He is fully aware of past humiliations: “ The idea of ​​the plan is to help African Americans get a good education, start their business… That’s the way to do it, I think. Teach people to fish instead of giving them fish. But not everyone agrees ».

→ CHRONICLE. “Systemic racism is the great story of the United States”

Because the project, still vague, evokes the establishment of funds intended for sectoral collective aid – not individual and direct compensation for the families of descendants. What divides the black community. ” These are not really repairs, deplores Jefferson Ellison, young owner of a small business selling vintage clothing that he designs. It is a comprehensive approach. However, we can know who are the descendants of slaves, how much their work brought to their masters, thanks to the tax statements … ».

William Darity, professor of economics at Duke University in North Carolina and author of a March book on the subject, also disputes the term, but for other reasons. ” I have nothing against what Asheville wants to do, but it’s not about repairs, he explains. If we want to tackle the basic problem, namely that 13% of the American population owns only 2.5% of the national wealth, due to discrimination, some of which persists, particularly in hiring, we need a plan massive, at national level ».

A plan that would amount, according to him, to billions of billions … For the moment, America is not there. But this debate is no longer confined to the left of the left. ” During the Democratic primaries earlier this year, three candidates said they were in favor. A first », Rejoices William Darity. And Asheville intends, in its own way, to contribute to the discussion.

→ PODCAST. This is America: the 2020 presidential series


Almost 13% of African Americans

December 18, 1865 : abolition of slavery in the United States.

The last census revealed, in 2010, that nearly 13% of Americans identify as African-Americans and are therefore potentially affected by future compensation.

As the election campaign draws near, Kamala Harris, Democratic Senator and Vice President of Candidate Joe Biden, proposed “An elevator law” for black families living in poverty, while former minister Julian Castro and Senator Elizabeth Warren are pushing for a commission to study possible reparations.


The “Watchmen” series, winner of the Emmy Awards

Series Watchmen and his violent superheroes grappling with the racist legacy of the United States caused a sensation on Sunday, September 20 at the Emmy Awards, equivalent to the Oscars for the American small screen, which this year were given at a distance during a virtual ceremony, pandemic obliges.

Just as dark but more squeaky, it is Succession, again for HBO, which established itself in the prestigious category of drama series, while the Canadian production Schitt’s Creek succeeded in the grand slam on the comedy side.

→ READ. Deauville Festival without the Americans, “Yes, we Cannes”

Derived from a 1980s comic, Watchmen depicts a dark and chaotic universe, imbued with police violence and racism that has shaken American society for months. She collected four awards during the evening, eleven in total if we add the prizes in technical categories awarded earlier in the week.

Watchmen, “visionary” series

The team of Watchmen dedicated its award to the victims of the massacre of at least 300 blacks by white rioters in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921, a central episode of the series. “The only way to put out fires is to fight them all together”, launched Damon Lindelof, white author, receiving the statuette.

→ PODCAST. “This is America”. African Americans, fighting rooted racism

Regina King, lead actress of Watchmen, took advantage of her reward to call on all spectators to mobilize for the presidential election on November 3. “You have to vote. I would be unworthy not to mention this, as a member of such a visionary show as Watchmen », launched the actress.

Regina King wore a t-shirt with the effigy of Breonna Taylor, a black American killed by the police and become one of the symbols of “Black Lives Matter”, a protest movement present in the minds and speeches of many stars of ‘Hollywood this year.

A third of black artists among the nominees

« Watchmen is a story about trauma and lasting after-effects ” caused by racism, corruption and police violence, said Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Among the hundred nominations for actors and actresses, black artists represent more than a third of the contingent of the Emmy Awards in 2020, a new record.

→ DOSSIER. George Floyd, Jacob Blake: New Cases of Racism in the United States

The 72nd edition has generally succeeded in its bet of a 100% virtual show, with the comedian Jimmy Kimmel alone at the helm for these “PandEmmys” in a deserted Los Angeles room, without red carpet or flashy evening wear.

Catherine O’Hara was elected “Best actress” in a comedy series for Schitt’s Creek, Eugene Levy (“best comic actor”) then his son Daniel Levy, distinguished for the screenplay and the best supporting role.

A Canadian comedy about a family of privileged fallen reduced to living in a dilapidated motel, the series went almost unnoticed for its first four seasons before becoming a success by being broadcast on Netflix.

“Ozark”, big loser

Succession, British black comedy about the heartbreak of a powerful family to take control of a media empire, also won Sunday for best actor (Jeremy Strong), screenplay and direction. Series Ozark produced by Netflix, the night’s big loser.

Series The Mandalorian, The first television adaptation of the Star Wars universe, left empty-handed from the evening but still pocketed seven Emmys in the technical categories earlier this week.


“This is America”. African Americans, fighting racism at its roots


George Floyd’s name will be remembered for a long time in the United States. The death of the African-American from Minneapolis, killed in late May 2020 by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer who knelt on his neck, sparked an unprecedented wave of protests against police violence and systemic racism. Since then, the anger has not subsided. Other names (Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, Daniel Prude in New York State…) have been added to the long list of black police victims.

→ FIND the episodes of the podcast “This is America”

These tragedies revealed the deep sense of injustice felt by the African-American community, whose daily lives are still affected by the racist legacy of United States history. What does it mean to be black American in 2020, on the eve of the presidential election? How to understand the mobilization of white Americans in these anti-racist demonstrations? What about race relations in the United States? To talk about it, Alexis Buisson, correspondent of The cross in New York, spoke with Claude Grunitzky. This successful entrepreneur journalist, champion of the concept of “transculturalism”, is the founder of TRUE Africa, a platform dedicated to African youth. He lives in New York.

→ ANALYSIS. Death of George Floyd: the cry of black America

→ REPORT. In the United States, anger unites the youth

→ PORTRAIT. Floyd case: Democratic, black and Muslim attorney general in charge of prosecutions

► A weekly podcast

Every Friday from September 4, and until the day after the presidential election, listen to Alexis Buisson and his guests in “This is America”.

A podcast of The cross in partnership with the Alliance-Columbia program and its partners (Sciences-Po, Polytechnique, La Sorbonne) and with French Morning, the first web magazine of the French in America.

This is America is an original podcast from LA CROIX, in partnership with the Alliance program – Columbia and its partners (Sciences-Po, Polytechnique, La Sorbonne), and French Morning, the first web magazine of the French in America .

► Other subjects and personalities received in “This is America”

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize for Economics; Joel Benenson, campaign strategist for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton; Roger Cohen, columnist at New York Times ; Célia Belin, researcher at the Brookings Institution; Raphaël Liogier, sociologist and philosopher; Benjamin Haddad, member of the Atlantic Council think tank. Among the subjects discussed: States which make the election; The white man, a myth in danger …

To listen to this podcast, subscribe for free on the following platforms : Apple Podcasts – Deezer – Spotify – Youtube – Castbox – Podcast Addict – Audio Now – Google Podcasts

Editorial manager: Christophe de Galzain. Interview, sound recording and editing: Alexis Buisson. Production monitoring: Célestine Albert-Steward. Musical creation, sound design: Emmanuel Viau. Mixing: Stéphane Letur. Voice: Laurence Szabason. Graphic identity: Olivier Balez. Editor-in-chief: Jérôme Chapuis.


Racism in the USA: renewed protests in Portland – politics

Mayor of the city, Ted Wheeler, mingled with the demonstrators during renewed protests in Portland, Oregon. Wheeler himself received tear gas used by the federal security forces against the demonstrators. On a video that a New-York-TimesJournalist spreads on Twitter, Wheeler says: “It burns the eyes and is difficult to breathe.” The video shows that Wheeler wears safety glasses and a mouth and nose cover. Wheeler criticizes the actions of the security forces: “I have not seen anything that would justify this reaction. It is an outrageous overreaction by the federal officials. It is the opposite of a de-escalation strategy. It is simply house warfare.” Wheeler sees the blame for President Trump: “It was done to the people of this country by the President of the United States. It has to stop. It is a threat to our democracy.”

Wheeler had mingled with the protesters after protests continued. Photos show demonstrators who accuse him of not knowing what he is talking about because he has never been subjected to tear gas bombardment. Several videos on the short message service Twitter show demonstrators who disparage Wheeler in chants.

Demonstrators accuse Wheeler of noting what he is talking about because he has never been attacked by tear gas.

(Photo: AP)

The government in Washington had previously dispatched federal security forces to the city of Portland in an unusual move against the declared will of local governments. Protests that began after the death of African American George Floyd in a brutal police operation almost two months ago repeatedly resulted in violent clashes with the police and material damage.

Trump wants to send “hundreds” of security forces to Chicago

Updates on the situation in the USA – twice a day via email or push message

All news on the current situation in the USA and the most important news of the day – twice a day with SZ Espresso. Our Newsletter brings you up to date in the mornings and evenings. Free registration: In our News app (download here) you can also subscribe to the espresso or breaking news as a push message.

US President Donald Trump upholds his threat: The US government will transfer “hundreds” of federal security forces to Chicago. This was to counter a wave of violence in the metropolis, said the Republican on Wednesday in the White House. There has recently been a “shocking explosion of killings” and violent crimes involving the use of firearms. “This bloodshed must end,” said Trump. Security forces are also to be sent to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Chicago’s mayor Lori Lightfoot had previously spoken out clearly against sending the federal security forces, which appeared to be paramilitary. “I will under no circumstances allow Donald Trump’s troops to come to Chicago and terrorize our citizens,” the democrat wrote on Twitter.

At first, however, Chicago should not have any legal means against sending the federal forces. On Tuesday, 15 people were seriously injured in a shootout in the metropolis. In a separate incident, a three-year-old girl was shot. In a politically very unusual move, the US government had already deployed security forces to Portland, Oregon, against the city’s stated will. In Oregon, lawsuits are pending against the sometimes brutal actions of the federal troops, including the state’s Secretary of Justice.

Trump has now announced that the government will provide some municipalities with additional funds for hiring police officers. In addition, federal forces would soon be deployed to other cities – the president did not give details.

Minister of Justice William Barr announced that the government would send federal security forces to other cities. More than 200 are already in Kansas City, a comparable number will be sent to Chicago. 35 more would be sent to Albuquerque, New Mexico. According to the Department of Justice, the number of murders in Chicago has increased significantly compared to the previous year. Trump promised that criminals would be found, arrested and prosecuted. This will be hard and “tedious work” and will take some time, he said.

US House of Representatives for Confederate Statue Removal

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a law to remove statues from Confederates in the Capitol. The bill passed the chamber with 305 to 113 votes and still has to go through the Senate, where the prospects are uncertain.

According to the law, at least ten statues in the Statuary Hall in the Capitol, home of the Congress, are to be identified and removed, representing Confederate leaders such as Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army. A bust of Supreme Judge Roger B. Taney, the author of a court ruling in 1857, was also to be removed. The ruling said that African Americans could not be US citizens.

“Defenders and advocates of sedition, slavery, segregation, and white supremacy have no place in this temple of freedom,” Steny Hoyer, Democratic majority leader in the House of Representatives, said before voting at a press conference.

Trump criticizes cities run by “radical left” Democrats

After criticism of the use of federal security forces in Portland, US President Donald Trump defended the procedure and threatened intervention in other major cities in the United States. “Portland was completely out of control,” said Trump, referring to protests against racism and police violence that had been going on there for almost two months. The participants in the protests are not demonstrators, but “anarchists”.

Looking at the at least twelve firearms deaths in Chicago over the weekend, according to media reports, Trump said: “This is far worse than Afghanistan.” Trump also criticized the increase in violent crime in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Oakland. All these cities are run by “radical left” Democrats, the Republican said.

More federal security forces would also be deployed there in future. These would have “done a fantastic job” in Portland, Oregon, and arrested many people. Trump warned that if his democratic challenger Joe Biden won the election in November, “the whole country would go to hell”.

In Portland, the militarized security forces deployed by the Trump administration are deployed against the will of the city and state. Oregon Justice Minister Ellen Rosenblum has filed a lawsuit against the operation. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler spoke of an “attack on our democracy”.

New footage released in the George Floyd case

Panicked and afraid, George Floyd pleaded with the police officers who arrested him. But the officials never let go of him, knelt on him, even as he grew quieter. This is shown by video recordings of body cameras of the police officers involved – and provides a new insight into the last minutes in the life of the African American killed.

The material released on Wednesday shows how an apparently scared Floyd, when arrested in late May, asked the police to let him go. A few minutes later, he was face down and handcuffed to the floor. The cameras picked up his voice, which was getting fainter and repeated, “I can’t breathe” before he died.

Without showing much emotion, the police commented on Floyd’s condition on the ground. “I think he’s going to pass out,” said one of them. “Are you okay?” Asked a voice. “Yes, so far so good,” answered another. An officer and paramedics then tried to resuscitate Floyd in the ambulance for several minutes – unsuccessfully.

Relatives sue the police involved

The Floyd family has sued the police and the US city of Minneapolis. In the lawsuit, the relatives accuse the four men of violating Floyd’s fundamental rights when they brutally detained him when he was arrested in late May. The city of Minneapolis, where the fatal operation occurred, is accused of tolerating a culture of excessive violence, racism and impunity within the police force.

One of the four officers pushed Floyd’s knee down his neck for almost nine minutes and did not stop when the man on the ground said several times that he could not breathe. He has already been charged with killing Floyd and the three other police officers involved for aiding him.

“This lawsuit shows what we’ve always said: that Mr. Floyd died because the weight of all the Minneapolis police was on his neck,” said lawyer Ben Crump. The aim is to create a precedent that also prohibits police officers from being financially prohibited from illegally killing marginalized groups.

Trump relativizes deadly police violence against blacks

Just under two months after the death of African-American George Floyd in a brutal arrest, US President Donald Trump relativized the problem of police violence against blacks. Floyd’s death was “horrible,” but “more whites” were killed by the police than blacks in the US, Trump said in a conversation with CBS on Tuesday. On the journalist’s question of why African-Americans are still killed by police officers in the United States, Trump said: “And white people just like that. What a terrible question.”

Trump has condemned Floyd’s death as an isolated case. However, he was accused of not clearly positioning himself against systematic racism and police violence in the United States despite the nationwide protests. Trump focused primarily on criticizing the violence on the sidelines of largely peaceful demonstrations.

There are no nationwide official police killings in the United States. In absolute numbers, whites are actually the largest victim group, like an evaluation of the Washington Post showed. However, members of the black minority are more likely to become victims of the police.

Police officers in the U.S. have had the Washington Post according to about 5,400 people shot, most of whom were armed. Of those, 45 percent were white, although whites make up about 60 percent of the US population. 23 percent of those killed by the police were blacks, who make up only 13 percent of the total population.

In addition, the statistics of firearm deaths only give an insight into the actions of the police: In the Floyd case, for example, no shot was fired. Government studies also show that police are more likely to use violence against blacks.


John Lewis Death: Conscience of Congress – Politics

His last fight began with a routine medical checkup. In late December 2019, John Lewis made public that he had pancreatic cancer. Advanced stage. “I’ve never faced a fight like the one I’m now waging,” he said in a statement at the time. This Friday evening (local time), the American civil rights activist and longtime Democratic congressman died. He was 80 years old.

“Today America is mourning the loss of one of the greatest heroes in American history,” said House President Democrat Nancy Pelosi. In Congress, John Lewis was honored and loved on both political sides and in both chambers of the Congress. “May his memory be an inspiration that motivates us all to cause good and necessary anger in the face of injustice.”

Fighting has always been central to Lewis’ life. According to his own count, he was arrested more than 40 times in demonstrations against racist and social injustice. As a supporter and colleague of Martin Luther King, he participated in sit-in strikes, joined the “Freedom Riders” who demonstrated on buses against segregation, and was – at the age of 23 – one of the keynote speakers in the historic March on Washington in 1963.

At the 1961 Freedom Rides, black and white civil rights activists drove south along buses to end segregation in public transportation after the US Supreme Court banned them. In Montgomery, Alabama, Lewis was hit on the head by a wooden box. “It was very violent,” he said later in an interview with CNN on the occasion of the 40th anniversary. “I thought I was going to die. I was passed out at the Greyhound bus station in Montgomery.”

“We knew him as a loving father and brother”

Lewis was Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee from 1963 to 1966. His prominent role in the voting march from Selma to Montgomery was portrayed in 2014 in the film “Selma”. On March 7, 1965, a day known as “Bloody Sunday,” Lewis and his fellow activist Hosea Williams led more than 600 demonstrators across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The mounted police attacked the demonstrators and beat them with sticks. Lewis suffered a broken skull.

In 2015, 50 years later, John Lewis, Barack Obama and numerous members of Congress joined in re-enacting the march. A year later, he led dozens of Democrats in an unprecedented sit-in in the House plenary hall to protest against his colleagues’ inaction in arms control after the murders of 49 people at a homosexual nightclub in Orlando, Florida. “We have been too quiet for too long,” said Lewis during the protest. “There comes a time when you have to say something, when you have to make a little noise, when you have to move your feet.”

Updates on the situation in the USA – twice a day via email or push message

All news on the current situation in the USA and the most important news of the day – twice a day with SZ Espresso. Our Newsletter brings you up to date in the mornings and evenings. Free registration: In our News app (download here) you can also subscribe to the espresso or breaking news as a push message.

In 1998, Lewis traced his turbulent life in his autobiography “Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement”. The book became a national bestseller. In 2012 he published the memoir “Across That Bridge” together with Brenda Jones. In addition to many other awards for his commitment, he was awarded the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” in 2011, the country’s highest civil honor.

John Lewis’s family also said in a statement about his death: “He was honored and respected as a conscience of the US Congress and an icon of American history, but we knew him as a loving father and brother.” Lewis remained true to his beliefs and principles until the very end. He was considered a keen critic of Donald Trump. He had previously opposed President George W. Bush, whom he did not describe as a “genuinely elected president”.

About the protests after George Floyd’s death, Lewis said: “It was very, very moving to see hundreds of thousands of people from all over America and all over the world take to the streets.”

John Lewis will be missing. Especially in these troubled times.


Trump’s speech on Independence Day: attacked soul – politics

The US president describes anti-racism protesters as “left-wing fascists” – and downplayed the corona virus again: 99 percent of the cases were “completely harmless”.

It was July 4th like no one before, at least in those areas of the United States most affected by the coronavirus, for example in Florida and Texas. The beaches: closed. The bars: closed. Fireworks: prohibited. A very muffled celebration, with which the Americans celebrated their Independence Day in the middle of the pandemic. The weekend, however, was anything but subdued where Donald Trump was.

The President addressed his compatriots twice, twice attacking his opponents with a sharpness that was surprising even by his standards. The target of Trump’s attacks was the anti-racism movement that swept across the country after the death of African American George Floyd. What began with calls for an end to police violence against blacks has developed into a broad debate about how to deal with the American legacy of slavery and segregation.

However, Trump sees it as something completely different, as he made clear when he appeared on Saturday night in front of the White House: a movement that needs to be put down. “We are about to defeat the radical left, Marxists, anarchists, agitators and looters,” he said. And: “We won’t allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, and indoctrinate our children.”

The president criticized protesters who damaged or demolished statues in many places. In some places, there were still images of former US presidents, such as George Washington, one of the founding fathers of the republic, who himself held slaves. Mostly, however, they are memorials to the confederacy that fought to preserve slavery in the southern states during the U.S. Civil War – and are also increasingly controversial in conservative circles.

In Trump’s account, the removal of these statues turns into a fundamental attack on the soul of America. The USA is therefore in a cultural struggle in which it is decided whether it will remain a free country – or drift into “totalitarianism”. “There were people at all times who lied about the past to draw power from,” said the US president. He would defend himself against this.

Already on the eve of July 4, he had spoken in the Mount Rushmore National Park in South Dakota about “left-wing fascists” with the aim of “starting a wave of violence in our cities”.

In the name of a “silent majority”

All of these were not words that other presidents usually utter on the traditionally apolitical national day – but they are not ordinary times either. Trump is in the election campaign, and since the pandemic began, he has increasingly fallen behind his democratic challenger Joe Biden in the polls. The US President regularly claims to speak on behalf of a “silent majority” of Americans who condemn the anti-racism protests. It is questionable whether this majority actually exists, but Trump seems to believe it, and at least in conservative circles, his appearances were well received.

“Trump defends history,” was read on Saturday on the Fox News website. In the studio, a commentator previously praised the “great patriotic evening” that the president was holding in the White House. He meant not only the speech, but also the air parade of military aircraft that the President ordered in Washington on Saturday. In contrast, the reactions in the left-liberal media were extremely negative. The New York Times criticized Trump’s “exaggerated, apocalyptic language”.

Trump sounded very different about the pandemic that has gotten out of control in the United States in recent weeks. 37 out of 50 states now have increasing numbers of cases. The United States has broken its own dramatic record of corona infection rates within 24 hours several times in a row in the past few days. For three days in a row, the numbers at Johns Hopkins University were over 50,000 – more than ever since the pandemic started. In Florida alone, almost 11,500 new infections were recorded within a day.

“Our strategy is progressing well,” said Trump. “We have learned to extinguish the flames. We have made great strides.” He also claimed that 99 percent of the cases found were “completely harmless” and again blamed China for the worldwide spread of the virus. “China must be fully held accountable,” said the US president.

Joe Biden: “We have the chance to tear the roots of systematic racism out of this country”

He also reiterated his claim that the US had so many infections only because it did a lot more testing than other countries. What he did not mention: The proportion of positive test results is higher in the USA than in almost all European countries, which is why experts vehemently disagree with the presentation. The virus has now also reached Trump’s inner circle. Shortly before his appearance in South Dakota, Kimberley Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of his eldest son Donald junior, tested positive for the virus. The two are now in quarantine.

The designated Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, demonstrated how different speeches on Independence Day can sound. He addressed the concerns of the demonstrators in a video message for Independence Day. “We have the chance to tear the roots of systematic racism out of this country,” he said. In an opinion piece for NBC News, he also wrote that the United States had never lived up to its founding principle that all people are created equal. It says so in the American Declaration of Independence of 1776. Biden complained that the “pursuit of a more perfect community” had been thrown off course in recent years. “And nobody bears more responsibility for this than President Donald Trump.”