Efforts by Trump’s team to steer a more conventional, disciplined candidacy have wilted in recent days as the 76-year-old unleashed words and images that – even by his provocative standards – are unusually dehumanising, menacing and dangerous.
He opened the rally by playing a song, “Justice for All”, that features a choir of men imprisoned for their role in the January 6 insurrection singing the national anthem intercut with Trump reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Trump stood solemnly on a podium with hand on heart and footage from the Capitol riot was shown on big screens and US flags billowed in the wind. “That song tells you a lot because it’s number one in every single category,” he told a crowd of thousands. “Number two was Taylor Swift, number three was Miley Cyrus.”
The choice of location for the rally was also striking: Waco, a city in Texas, exactly 30 years after a 51-day standoff and deadly siege between law enforcement and the Branch Davidians that resulted in the deaths of more than 80 members of the religious cult and four federal agents.
It came with Trump facing the prospect of becoming the first president in US history to be indicted. A grand jury in New York investigating a hush money payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels, who alleged a sexual encounter with Trump, a claim he denies.
Trump falsely predicted his own arrest on Tuesday last week and called for protests without adding that they should be peaceful. On his Truth Social platform he warned of “potential death & destruction” if he is eventually charged.
He also used increasingly racist rhetoric as he launched ever more personal attacks against Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, raising fears that supporters could try to lash out on his behalf. Trump even shared an image of himself holding a baseball bat next to a picture of Bragg.
Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic minority leader in the House of Representatives, said: “The twice-impeached former president’s rhetoric is reckless, reprehensible and irresponsible. It’s dangerous, and if he keeps it up he’s going to get someone killed.”
On Friday a powdery substance was found with a threatening letter in a mailroom at Bragg’s offices; officials later determined the substance was harmless.
Yet at Saturday’s rally at Waco airport, there was little sign of Trump heeding the warnings and cooling off. Behind him supporters held signs that said, “Witch hunt”, “I stand with Trump” and “Trump 2024”.
The 45th president repeated his false claim that the the 2020 presidential election was “rigged”, praised the rioters of January 6 and raged against the “weaponization of law enforcement”, branding the prosecutors overseeing multiple investigations into his conduct as “absolute human scum”.
Sunday, March 26, 2023
Calling Democrats "villains" who must and will be "eliminated", Donald Trump's rally Saturday in Waco, Texas on the 30th anniversary of the Branch Davidian standoff was a call to arms against Tump's many, many opponents, a war he expects his MAGA faithful to fight every day in the 2024 campaign and beyond.
At this point, anyone left in Trump's MAGA fold is a terrorist and needs to be treated as such. We won't do that, of course, but it would prevent the lethal violence that is coming in the weeks and months ahead.
Twenty years from now, not only do I expect that Republicans like Ron DeSantis will have ended the Civil Rights era, but that the history of the Civil Rights era will no longer be taught in any public school, college, or university.
On March 9, at the Cocoa campus of Eastern Florida State College, the students in a U.S. Government class ended up having a free period. That’s because one of the students said that they were uncomfortable in the day’s lesson on civil rights.
A dual student at the college and Cocoa High School, 15-year-old Jacob Dailey was in the class. He walked in that day just as the professor was telling students that he’d have to cancel class.
“The topic was civil rights, no specific bit of it, just in general. As far as I’m aware,” Dailey said. “So the teacher basically had to cancel this class of about 20 students in total because of the student’s discomfort.”
He told WESH 2 that he was disappointed that he had to miss the class for a topic that was on the class schedule and required for his degree.
“I think that there could have been a better method of handling it, but the teacher’s concerns were valid I’d say,” Dailey said.
Jacob Dailey’s father Matt Dailey is a teacher at Cocoa High School. He said that he has heard good things about the teacher Josh Humphries. But he said, “If I have a student who is uncomfortable, I usually have backup assignments. ‘Hey, go to the library.’”
The leadership of the college is standing behind their teacher and pointed out that he has invited a variety of state and local political leaders to speak in his class.
In a statement to WESH 2, John J. Glisch, associate vice president at Eastern Florida State College, said: “Mr. Humphries is an excellent educator who regularly receives high grades in student satisfaction surveys. To avoid a disruptive situation, Mr. Humphries decided to cancel class early in what he believed was a prudent move. He is working with his supervisors on alternative ways to handle such potential problems to ensure future classes can continue.”
There is no word yet on when and how the lessons will continue.
Spoilers: they won't. Not in Florida. This will be banned across the state because all a student has to do is say "this makes me uncomfortable" and it's gone. They understand their assigned roles in making non-white classmates miserable, relegating history relevant to them as beneath the feelings of their white classmates. They know they can veto Black, Latino, Native history now, and they will expect to be able to use that veto power in the future outside of class, as well.
It's not coming back in Florida as long as Ron DeSantis and the GOP are in charge, and that will continue for years. Not in my lifetime, at least. And if we're not careful, it'll be gone from the entire country.
As the Men's and Women's college basketball tournaments continue this weekend, our Sunday Long Read is the story of a ticket to a basketball game worth a million bucks: Michael Jordan's debut with the Chicago Bulls.
THE TICKET was in one of his pockets and stayed there during the game. He discovered it later that evening when he rode the train back from the city and returned to his freshman dorm room, as he set his personal items on the desk before bed. Mike Cole would've taken the ticket and either opened the tiny desk drawer at the side of the room by the window and stored it inside, or placed it on one of the shelves in his closet above a pile of dirty laundry and his low-top Nike basketball shoes.
Thirty-seven years later, in the winter of 2021, Cole was watching a newscast one evening when a headline flashed on the screen. He immediately stumbled into the basement of his Connecticut home and turned the lights on. He almost slipped going down the stairs and made his way to the auxiliary closet and the plastic bin with "MIKE'S MEMORY BOX" written in Sharpie on recycled duct tape on the side. The manila folder was still in there, and the ticket, too, with all the other tickets, where it had landed for years after following him around for most of his adult life.
It had a reminder on the back about the box office hours of Chicago Stadium in 1984, noon to 6 p.m. except Sundays, and a block paragraph of microscopic typeface that the service charge was nonrefundable and neither the Bulls nor their players were liable for fans getting injured during the game. On the front, a watermark of the stadium as its centerpiece; the Bulls' mascot on the left edge of the perforation; a handsome red border that set the dull background promoting the event -- Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Bullets, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m -- in relief. Those design flairs added to its singular value but weren't the actual explanation of why it turned out to be the most valuable ticket from a sporting event in history.
The game was the professional debut of a rookie guard from the University of North Carolina, who in a middle-aged man's recollections had done nothing that night to portend his legend.
The ticket allowed Cole only a single memory: No. 23, in his white jersey, on his back on the court, the crowd around him rising in whispered concern. Cole, then 18 years old, had stood, too; if he strained, he could still picture the young player in the air with his tongue out, long before it was emulated by the world. On that very first NBA dunk attempt, Michael Jordan fell on his back and almost ended his professional career the night it began.
Cole's attendance became an erstwhile conversation piece as he aged and his recollections about the whole thing faded -- he'd long ago put the ticket away in the manila envelope in the plastic container. As the Bulls made playoff runs in the late '80s, and Jordan finally got past the Detroit Pistons in the early '90s, Cole found opportunities here or there to brag about being at MJ's very first game. But even after the sixth championship, it was merely another relic from some sporting event Cole had saved, along with about two dozen hockey, baseball and football tickets and a Cindy Crawford signed calendar from 1990, framed pictures of his mom and dad, purple pompoms from the Rose Bowl -- the ticket never seemed special beyond its personal value.
That it ever had any real value before last year was a different kind of conversation altogether, one about his father, old games and the reasons people hold on to anything at all. His dad was a D.C. lawyer; pretty much the only time they hung out was when they attended events together. Cole left home to attend Northwestern, and as a surprise, his dad had called a friend in the Bullets' front office and had him leave Mike two tickets at will call to Jordan's first game. All these years later, Cole hated the idea of letting any of his tickets go, of giving them to someone else who couldn't understand and hadn't actually been there.
"Every ticket can tell you a story," Cole says. "I'm someone who's about relationships and experiences. And that's what tickets are to me."
But then, that winter night in 2021, he saw the news story on TV: Ticket stub from Michael Jordan's NBA debut sells for $264K. Cole's ticket in the basement wasn't a mere stub; it was unused, untorn, a complete ticket in good condition. A few weeks later, an armored truck came around the stop sign at the end of the street outside of his house, his neighbors and friends watching in stupefaction, his wife, Kristen, bundled against the cold so she could take a commemorative picture of Mike letting the ticket go to auction. Still, even as appraisers and investors hyperventilated at his discovery, the first ticket of any kind likely worth a million bucks; even as Cole was promised the moon from auction houses seeking his business and hyping its value; even as he stretched his arm to give the ticket to a man wearing a bulletproof vest and a Glock on his waistband bound for Heritage Auctions in Dallas, he wasn't totally convinced parting with it was the right thing to do.
On a shivery evening last Feb. 26, the final night of the ticket's auction, Mike and Kristen hosted a party at their house in Cheshire, Connecticut. His neighbors toasted him while gathered in the kitchen. Cheers to randomly keeping it! Cheers to some NBA game four decades back, and Mike's luck of being there. Cheers to the greatest basketball player of all time! The recent snow was still shiny in Cole's driveway, the empty starlight in the frozen sky. The Cole family laptop screen streamed the live feed from the Heritage Winter Sports Collectibles Auction on the large TV. The two dogs curled up, ambivalent to the noise in the living room. Cole blushed, as 10 p.m. turned to 11 p.m. and the ticket's value surpassed $300,000. The neighbors chanted, "TO THE MILLION-DOLLAR TICKET!" and "Go, go, GO!" as Cole brought a mini bottle of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky up to his lips each time the only known complete ticket from Michael Jordan's first NBA game went up in value by increments of $10,000.
This is a pretty good yarn here about Mike and his Golden Ticket, reminding us that sometimes sports can transcend everything and become history, valuable in more ways than one.