Washington: CNN anchor Victor Blackwell on Saturday defended his hometown Baltimore, soon after US President Donald Trump criticised the region’s Representative Elijah Cummings, calling his district a “disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess.”
Cummings, one of the most prominent African-American leaders, is the House Oversight Committee Chairman. The committee has launched investigations into the Trump government’s dealings — a facet which was also attacked by Trump in a series of tweets which have rekindled accusations of racism against the 45th US President.
“Rep, Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous,” Trump tweeted.
“His district is considered the Worst in the USA. As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place,” he added.
During Saturday morning’s edition of Newsroom, the CNN anchor highlighted that whenever the US President tweets about infestation, “it’s about black and brown people.”
“Infested — That’s usually reserved for references to rodents and insects, but we’ve seen the President invoke ‘infestation’ to criticise lawmakers before. You see a pattern here?” Blackwell questioned.
“Just two weeks ago, President Trump attacked four minority congresswomen: “Why don’t they go back to the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.” Reminder, three of them were born here, all of them are American. Infested, he says,” Blackwell stated.
He also pointed out an earlier example of Trump using the word while attacking the US Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, John Lewis, in 2017.
“A week before his inauguration, January 2017: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart, not to mention crime infested,” he recalled.
“September 2014, at the height of an urgent health emergency: “Why are we sending thousands of ill-trained soldiers into Ebola infested areas of Africa! Bring the plague to the US? Obama is so stupid. Infested, he (Trump) says,” the anchor said while quoting Trump, trying to bring his case in point.
“The President says about Congressman Cummings’ district that no human would want to live there. You know who did, Mr. President? I did, from the day I was brought home from the hospital to the day I left for college, and a lot of people I care about still do,” Blackwell stated.
“There are challenges, no doubt. But people are proud of their community. I don’t want to sound self-righteous, but people get up and go to work there. They care for their families there. They love their children, who pledge allegiance to the flag just like people who live in districts of congressmen who support you, sir. They are Americans, too,” he lastly said, resting his case.
Trump’s comments against Cummings were labelled to be “racist” by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had also backed the four POC (People of Colour) Congresswomen who were at the receiving end of Trump’s Twitter tirade recently.
However, Trump continued his rant against Cummings and tweeted, “So sad that Elijah Cummings has been able to do so little for the people of Baltimore. Statistically, Baltimore ranks last in almost every major category. Cummings has done nothing but milk Baltimore dry, but the public is getting wise to the bad job that he is doing!”
He also used the hashtag “#BlacksForTrump2020” in one of the posts targetting Cummings. “Elijah Cummings spends all of his time trying to hurt innocent people through “Oversight.” He does NOTHING for his very poor, very dangerous and very badly run district! #BlacksForTrump2020.”
Cummings had earlier responded to Trump’s comments and said, “Mr President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbours. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”
“Just yesterday, I held a hearing on the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs and the financial hardships that families across the nation, and in Baltimore, are facing,” he added.
Trump has previously rejected accusations of being racist by claiming that he does not have “racist bone” in his body. “Those tweets were NOT racist,” he said while referring to his statements against the Congresswomen, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC).
Ocasio-Cortez rejected Trump’s statement and tweeted, “You’re right, Mr President – you don’t have a racist bone in your body. You have a racist mind in your head and a racist heart in your chest. That’s why you violate the rights of children and tell the Congresswoman who represents your home borough, to “go back to my country”.