Helen Ubinas: All Trump enablers are not created equal, but they are equally complicit

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Not that anyone should shed a tear over the despicable MAGA-loving duo Diamond and Silk getting fired by Fox News.

But get out your pencils. It’s time to add “pushing wild conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic” as one more thing white folks can do with impunity — especially on prime-time cable shows — but black people can’t without consequence.

It just goes to show not all enablers of President Donald Trump are created equal, even as anti-quarantine protesters are compared to civil rights giant Rosa Parks.

I know: laughable. Offensive. But those clowns of all complexions — the famous grifters spewing nonsense and the clueless picketers who insist they have a right to a hair cut during a pandemic — are easy to dismiss. It’s the enablers who come off as sane, even respectable, who trouble me.

The ones who give you a wink and a nod, as if to let you know that, yeah, of course they know what’s happening isn’t right, or normal. But, wink-wink, nod-nod, rest easier, they’re on the inside fighting the good fight.

Enablers like Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx.

I know, I know. Forgive me Father, for I am about to sin, by taking these saints’ names in vain.

For the most part, the doctors have done the Lord’s work trying to keep Trump in check by sneaking in small doses of sanity and science into a madman’s diet of lies and chaos like parents would nutritious vegetables for their finicky toddler.

Except as we’ve seen, when Trump has a tantrum, he’s not the one given a timeout. It’s the enablers, who, naively, perhaps arrogantly, convinced themselves that they were the presidential baby whisperer.

The thinking behind these “good enablers” being that they could do a lot more good working within a system or organization than, say, a screaming agitator could on the outside.

No doubt having Fauci and Birx’ steady presence alongside Trump has often made many Americans — including this one — feel as though not all is lost.

Except enabling comes at a cost.

Deference is just as dangerous as disinformation.

Coddling just as infectious as complicity.

At best, enabling is a dangerous balancing act. But unlike the “good enablers” at say, your job, there’s a lot more at stake than just being disappointed.

By propping up the president with their credentials and integrity, Fauci and Birx are in danger of losing their own because to survive, even the “good enablers” must make compromises.

If Fauci wants to stay in the mix, he needs to stand by while Trump makes one dangerous claim after another (even if he does try to gingerly correct the record later).

If Birx wants to keep standing at the podium, she needs to fix her face and elegantly worn scarves, and express her disappointment … in the media.

On Sunday, when asked about Trump’s remarks about using disinfectants and ultraviolet light on coronavirus patients, she told CNN’s Jake Tapper:

“It bothers me that this is still in the news cycle … I worry that we don’t get the information to the American people that they need when we continue to bring up something that was from Thursday night.”

She’s got a point about the dangers of distraction — especially when so many lives are at stake. Vice President Mike Pence not wearing a mask during a tour of the Mayo Clinic is obviously outrageous. Trump writing off his latest insane comment as sarcasm, more BS.

Meanwhile, the scales keep tipping dangerously closer toward complicity.

At some point, even the most well-intentioned enablers have to choose a side. And now more than ever, it’s Trump’s side or the right side.

Those working on the inside find solace in believing that they’re doing good, and for a while maybe they are. But when it’s clear that their efforts are hurting more than helping, it’s time to stop and tell the truth. Consequences be damned.

The truth is that you can only try to work within a corrupt system or a corrupt administration for so long before it inevitably corrupts you.



Helen Ubinas is a columnist at The Philadelphia Inquirer.


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