President Trump’s pardon of Arpaio is detestable, but not surprising



For those of you who aren’t familiar with Joe Arpaio, let me give you a brief rundown. Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, has been accused of a smorgasbord of gross police misconduct including abuse of power, improper clearance, election law violation, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws, misuse of funds and failure to investigate sex crimes. And that’s just what’s on Wikipedia.

Arpaio was also convicted of criminal contempt of court for failure to stop his practice of racial profiling, which was court ordered in 2015 in Melendres v. Arpaio. In response, President Donald Trump extended his first presidential pardon to Arpaio this past August, effectively forgiving him of his transgressions.

I have a complicated range of reactions to this, none of them good. A part of me screams: are you kidding me? What time period are we in? Is this really what we’re doing right now? Yet, another part of me asks: okay, but what did you expect from a man endorsed by the KKK? The man who defended Nazis? Did you expect him to be just? And yet I kinda did, hence the first reaction. Part of me still lives with this expectation that some people can do good and offer good things. I know that morality is complex and what is right and wrong is tricky sometimes, but Trump’s actions aren’t defensible.

But this is also the America we’re living in right now, and it’s not pretty. It’s one where the president kisses baby faces and the baby’s face gets covered in cheeto dust. One where the White House is pushing their own news source and complaining about false information being promoted by third-party media news outlets. One where people are obsessed with an idealized past that has never truly existed because America is flawed.

We have an entire cabinet chasing a nonexistent American Dream, like they never read “The Great Gatsby” before. The whole spectacle is appalling, yet we can’t look away from any of it without running the risk of having the rights stripped off already vulnerable individuals. Individuals like people of color, working class people, non-Christian people, queer people, disabled people, people with uteruses, etc. The people of the United States of America are regularly at risk if we don’t pay attention.

Granted, we have things better than most, but it’s hard for us to look at Trump’s pardon of Arpaio and be surprised in any way, shape or form because everything else has been such a mess already, so why should now be any different? It’s almost masochistic, like watching as a dentist pulls out your teeth one by one and writing an article on each and every tooth. We’re at a point where it’d be more efficient to say: things are bad and probably going to get worse.

So yeah, Trump defended Nazis, joked about assaulting women, and pardoned a man who is clearly and unabashedly racist. More next week when he does more of the same things yet again.