It’s June 5, 1980, exactly thirty years ago, and the magnificent art deco Bonwit Teller building in Manhattan, is smashed to the ground. Despite pleas from New Yorkers and an agreement with the Metropolitan Museum of Art to preserve the deco grillwork and base reliefs so they can be restored and displayed as significant examples of 1920’s architecture, all are destroyed. The young and smug developer, Donald J Trump, does not want to spend the measly $32k and additional few days on the demolition process preserving these artefacts and, as far as he was concerned, their destruction is of little consequence. Besides, he has better use for the under-paid, undocumented Polish workers he has employed for his Trump Tower project.
Not much has changed in Trump’s modus operandi except, rather than being just another entitled, unethical developer, he is now leader of (what was once) the “free” world. Trump’s litany of chequered business investments and failed property ventures have been well reported over the years. His boastful claims describing himself as an astute and successful billionaire sit in sharp contrast with the facts. On the back of an inheritance from his wealthy father, he bulldozed his way through dodgy real estate endeavours trademarked with his name, failed resorts and casinos, an entire football league and even a university. Let’s not forget the unfortunate investors, contractors and employees, destroyed along the way.
Time and time again, Trump has exposed himself as, not only a shameless sociopath who disregards anything or anyone who stands between him, his ego and the lining of his pockets, but also someone with inherently flawed judgement and poor business acumen. In fact, the only reason he wasn’t personally bankrupted along with his ludicrous Trump Taj Mahal casino was because he would have brought a financial institution or two down with him. When Trump says he did “very well” from his Atlantic City casinos, he means he did well ripping cash from the failing company at the expense of small investors, many of whom lost their life savings in his immoral, junk bond scheme.
As civil unrest erupts throughout the US, it’s ironic then that Trump is categorising the opportunists partaking in looting, theft and destruction of properties as terrorists. If small time crims, poor and desperate people loot, rob and vandalise, it’s time to bring in the National Guard, yet when, in a far more calculating manner, a rich and privileged person like himself, tears down architecturally significant buildings, destroy communities with his poor investments, sends small businesses broke by refusing to pay contractors, causes hundreds of employees to lose their jobs, and wipes out investors’ savings through spurious schemes, it’s an example of his savvy, entrepreneurship.
In fact, those small business owners Trump claims he is protecting with his law and order measures now, are the same people he has hoodwinked and destroyed in the past. In any case, he is conveniently using the looting as an excuse to mobilise violent tactics to suppress the many peaceful protestors simply exercising their democratic rights.
Putting his business endeavours to one side, through his divisive politics, the catastrophic and incompetent management of COVID-19 and now fuelling the civil unrest caused by police brutality by inflicting even more brutality, Trump has brought the United States to the brink – which is exactly where he wants it. A belittled and enraged Trump is on a compulsive drive to Make Trump Great Again. Bulldozing, destroying and then reconstructing in his name is the only way he can satisfy his pathological need for egotistical self-gratification.
What this means for the American people, aside from the sycophants working for him and his unhinged base of supporters who are happy so long as they can bear arms and use them, is a threat to democratic and civil freedoms. Like the levelling of the Bonwit Teller tower 30 years ago, rather than upholding and respecting the sacred ideals of the United States of America, the country is on course for sharper divisions, more conflict and more violence. Trump is determined to rise up triumphant, reclaiming his presidency at any cost.