Harry Alford is a man who might just be an island unto himself.
The president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce in northwest D.C. said he’s standing by President Donald Trump despite the racially-charged and insensitive remarks the commander in chief made about the white supremacists and neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville that’s sparked outrage even from Republicans.
Alford even backed Trump’s controversial stand that more than the white supremacists and neo-Nazis are to blame for the deadly incident near the University of Virginia last weekend.
“Let those fickle CEOs go,” Alford told The Washington Informer in an email Thursday. “They weren’t loyal to begin with,” he said of the many CEOs who have jumped ship from positions within various councils Trump had formed.
“The president made a mistake in what he has said. There are no good or fine people in the Klan, neo-Nazi or any other race-haters,” Alford said. “He needs some black representation amongst his advisers. Alphonso Jackson or Herman Cain would keep him out of trouble. There is a void here.”
He echoed Trump’s comments that there’s enough blame to go around.
“The issue may be, why did rival groups come with baseball bats and helmets?” Alford said. “The Virginia governor and local police did not handle it well. We should return to nonviolence.”
With corporate chieftains fleeing, Trump responded by abruptly abolishing two of his White House business councils. The president announced the action via tweet, though only after one of the panels had already agreed to disband earlier in the day.
“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump tweeted from New York.
The decision came as the White House tried to manage the repercussions from Trump’s earlier defiant remarks. Presidential advisers hunkered down, offering no public defense while privately expressing frustration with his comments.
A growing number of business leaders on the councils have openly criticized his remarks laying blame for the violence at a white supremacists’ rally on “both sides.”
The president also equated white supremacists on the right to the “alt-left.”
“There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for the country, but there are two sides to a story,” Trump said, raising the ire of many in his own party.
Some Republicans and scores of Democrats denounced Trump’s statements as putting white supremacists on equal moral footing with counterprotesters in Charlottesville and called for an apology.
The fallout from the president’s apparent tolerance of racism has been underscored by reports that so many Americans are suffering from political anxiety that doctors have coined a term for it: President Trump Stress Disorder.
Patients are turning up in therapists’ offices across the country reporting symptoms including insomnia, hypervigilance, and the inability to pull themselves away from the 24-hour news cycle, according to research by the New York Daily News.
Therapists report that their practices are more robust than ever.
Deborah Cooper, a California-based therapist, said she can hardly accommodate all of her patients.
“I have people I have not seen in literally 30 years that have called me to come back in because of trauma,” she said. “I am more than full. I am overworking.”
She cited Trump’s lackluster condemnation of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville as one in a string of anxiety-inducing events that are “coming too fast and furious” for her patients — and her practice — to handle.
Clinical psychologist Scott Christnelly said Trump’s remarks Tuesday serve as confirmation that his patients’ anxiety is well founded.
“This is more evidence they should be anxious. There is evidence the anxiety is real, and it’s not just something they are making up,” he said.
Worry over America’s future under Trump is so pervasive that therapists say most of their clients have brought it up while in session.
“I don’t think I have a patient that has never mentioned it. It’s remarkable,” said Sue Elias, a New York-based psychotherapist.
Elias described a patient raised in a dysfunctional, alcoholic household whose past traumas have been brought to the surface by Trump. Her worries and fears now interfere with her day-to-day functioning.
“This is so triggering for her, the feeling of every day, what is going to happen next,” Elias said. “It has interfered with her work and she is really struggling.”
An American Psychology Association study conducted after Trump was elected showed that 66 percent of adults, including Democrats and Republicans, said the future of the nation was causing them significant stress. Fifty-seven percent of adults identified the current political climate as a significant source of stress.
The APA reports that stress has, over the past 10 years, been trending downward among American adults. But stress levels spiked for the first time in January, when Trump’s inauguration took place.
Perhaps no one summed up the fury over Trump’s Charlottesville stand better than Pennsylvania state Rep. Jordan Harris.
“Sadly, many of us African-Americans aren’t shocked or dismayed. For many, it’s far too common,” the Philadelphia Democrat said, slowly allowing his emotions to stir and apparently realizing he wouldn’t be able to keep them in check totally.
“What is not common is a racist and bigoted president,” he said. “For this president not to understand the deep hurt of having a statue of Robert E. Lee is significantly sadder to me and it should be to us as a nation. What other country in the world would celebrate the conquered? Robert E. Lee was a traitor, he committed treason.
“We talk in the historical context,” said Harris, clearly riled by this point. “The Confederates lost. They rebelled, they committed treason and the United States won. You don’t go to Germany and see a statue of Adolph Hitler. We have to stop with this ‘historical society’ b.s. Let Robert E. Lee be in the history books, but a statue to revere a traitor, a man who had my ancestors in chains? This is not a heritage, this is hypocrisy.
“We can’t allow people to get away with this ‘historical society’ stuff,” he said. “What heritage are we celebrating? America conquered the Confederacy and no other nation would celebrate the conquered.”
Among the top Republicans to speak out against Trump were Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, both former Presidents Bush and even his own Chief of Staff John Kelly, who appeared to roll his eyes in disgust at the president’s comments.
Most of America shared in Harris’ anger.
“This president is a joke,” he said. “This Robert E. Lee thing is sad.”