Odd how places of one’s past crop up later in life. My paternal grandparents retired to an area on Lake Panasoffkee in Sumter County in central Florida, not far from Wildwood and near where the Sunshine State Parkway toll road begins at its intersection with I-75 about an hour north of Tampa.
I visited there from time to time during the late 1960s and through the 70s. It was a collection of motor homes, double-wide trailers modular homes around a lake with decent fishing and more than a few alligators.
Like most of Florida, that area was also ripe for development into more expansive retirement communities, like The Villages more inland east of Wildwood.
The Villages are a community of golf courses, planned neighborhoods and lavish landscapes where residents travel mostly by often-customized golf carts. It is 97 percent white and mostly Republican, including an old friend from my high school days in Floyd County who cut off contact more than two years ago because of disagreements about the president that I think is a corrupt con man, and he reveres.
So it was sad to see a man on a golf cart scream “white power” in a video posted from The Villages by Donald Trump, who calls the community “great people.”
Interesting observation, since the video showed a nasty, foul-mouthed clash between pro-Trump and anti-Trump residents of The Villages. While a man on one side yelled “White Power,” a woman on the other side repeatedly yelled “f–k Trump!”
It took the White House more than three hours to convince Trump to take down the tweet but neither he or the White House denounced white supremacy or racism. The the Republican Club of The Villages called the tweet “appalling.”
“In the video a man was yelling ‘White Power,’” the club said in a written statement. “This is NOT what we stand for and is NOT a reflection of Village residents. We must unite as a Country!”
A club spokesman for the GOP group, John Calandro, told the Washington Post that there was “no justification” for the comment and said it was “disappointing” that the video was shown.
“When you have a community like ours, you don’t like to have anybody cast it in a light that’s not favorable,” Calandro said, before adding that Trump continues to enjoy strong support among residents.
Andrew Blechman, author of “Leisureville: Adventures in a World Without Children,” a book about The Villages, says the area is a place where politicians like Trump know racist messages like his play well.
“The entire place is a pantomime of a make-believe sepia-toned fantasy of ‘the way America used to be and should be’ — where white people dominate, blacks are either nonexistent or nonthreatening domestics / low-wagers, and teens go to sock hops and jerk soda,” he said in an email to The Post, adding that he was not surprised by the views expressed in the video.
The president’s recent inflammatory remarks build upon a long history that includes promoting the racist conspiracy theory that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States, deriding Mexican immigrants as criminals and pushing for a ban on Muslim immigration into the United States.
The steady stream of racist and offensive language from Trump has convinced many Americans that the president is a racist, according to recent polling.
And Trump has injected his derisive rhetoric into his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, twice referring to the respiratory disease that originated in China as the “kung flu.”
Lily Adams, a senior adviser to a super PAC supporting former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said “the fact that Donald Trump and the White House won’t even clear the bar of condemning white supremacy just shows how devoid of any morals things really have become.”–The Washington Post
I’m sorry I lost an old friend because of differences over Trump but the disdain I feel for a president that I feel has no soul, no morality and no values continues to grow. In this case, the love I have for America supersedes friendships.