Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) denounced attempts to downplay some atrocities that have occurred throughout American history, arguing that Americans’ understanding of the brutal events could positively impact how people respond today.
“The idea that we’re going to create some Disney movie version of our history is offensive to me — it diminishes who we are by not telling the truth of who we are,” Booker said during an interview with The Atlantic. “Knowing the bloody, violent truth of our past empowers me and encourages my hope for what we have the capacity to do in our present.”
“But it’s not easy,” he continued. “It’s not.”
The presidential hopeful then pivoted to take a shot at President Donald Trump, criticizing the president for vilifying his opposition in order to craft a narrative and advance a political agenda.
“What is easy is what Donald Trump does for short-term, pitiful political gain,” Booker said. “To demonize ‘the other,’ other Americans, demean and degrade them.”
“This is a major part of our American story,” he continued. “I have no choice but to stay in this fight.”
The New Jersey senator has long been a critic of Trump, often referring to him as a bully who promulgates hatred in America. He has compared the president to former segregationist Gov. George Wallace (D-AL), but also argued that he is “worse than a racist” since he uses racism to divide the country.
In July, Booker revealed that he sometimes gets the urge to physically assault the president, but restrains himself so that he doesn’t use those same bullying tactics.
“Donald Trump is a guy who — you understand, he hurts you,” he said while appearing on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” “My testosterone sometimes makes me want to feel like punching him, which would be bad for this elderly, out of shape man that he is if I did that. This physically weak specimen.”
In the aftermath of two back-to-back mass shootings that occurred over the weekend, he seemingly accused Trump of inciting the violent attacks. Without mentioning the president by name, he gave a speech at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina where he preached to the crowd that “white supremacy allows political leaders to promise to build the wall, while not building hospitals, schools, or infrastructure critical for the success of America.”
“Even if you lose day after day, [even if you] have to go to funeral after funeral after funeral, even if you lock — as I did — lock myself in the mayor’s office from time to time and just cry, you’ve got to get up off your knees and go back into the fight,” Booker told the Atlantic. “That’s what this moment calls for.”
“None of us can show greater courage than those people in our past who saw more wretchedness, more violence, more hurt, and more pain, but kept on going,” he continued. “And bequeathed to us as a nation that was better than when they found it.”