AFTER the Democratic Party Convention, I believed America had fallen into grave danger. After the Republican Convention this past week, I am now convinced of it.
President Trump and his Republican cohort put on a convention immodest in all of its substantive aspects. Yet, I must give the Republicans credit. Their convention was more dramatic and technically better orchestrated than the Democrats’ gathering. The Republican Convention was a boisterous parade through white supremacist Fantasyland. They painted a picture of a pristine, holy America that never existed. In doing so, they absolved themselves of the violent evils that mar American history. In that they materially benefit from both former ae well as present injustices makes them feign even harder to be blind to the misdeeds committed in their behalf.
Both conventions reveal the moral bankruptcy of the nation pretending to be God’s oasis on earth. Both Republicans and Democrats gloat that America is the world’s exceptional nation. They may be correct but not in the majestic sense they intend. America has the most powerful military and its economy is the largest in terms of monetary GDP. This is quite a feat but past empires have matched it. What makes America exceptional is a cruel trifecta. America is the rare nation created from: 1.) mass murder of the land’s original inhabitants and mass thievery of the land, 2.) ruthless enslavement/legal subjugation of another race and last, 3.) the evolution into a global empire that on multiple occasions has deemed it fit to smother the flicker and flame of liberty in distant lands so that America might profit from a source of inexpensive raw material or from even cheaper human toil.
Thus, in his acceptance speech, Trump waxed nostalgically about white men travelling west toward the Great Plains and Pacific Ocean in covered wagons to settle land, build farms and plant their cities. This is the stuff of western movies, the myth of America. Most people see movies and view the invading cowboys as heroes. The forlorn red man merely trying to defend his land and way of life is perceived as a savage villain.
The Native American had homes, towns, farms and villages, and loved ones. What became of them we all know. But we have been duped not to care about their extinction because the white American is supreme to the extent that he can do no wrong; even his wicked deeds are woven of sublime and enlightened material. In this mindset, people of other color are wrong for having interests and beliefs different than his; they are wrong for living on land he wants, wrong for owning natural resources he craves, wrong for thinking themselves his equal.
America is that exceptional nation which passed a national law pilfering the land of the five great Indian tribes in the southeastern United States. The law did more than that. It forced members of these ethnic groups to walk a thousand miles with but the meagre possessions they could tote on their backs. Out of the tens of thousands forced into this march, most perished on the way. This march of misery bears the title the “Trail of Tears.” The weary survivors were forced to resettle on strange, less fertile land. After a few decades, they were even forced of this space to areas more remote and desolate. The mass evacuation was for a tainted and malign purpose. America was to perfect a compound evil.
With towns and vast tracts of fertile lands now vacant, whites established the large plantations that would become integral to American lore. They would also take over the homes, towns and lucrative businesses they had forced the Indians to leave behind. On many of the large tracts of land, cotton would be planted. Enchained black people would be “sold down the river” or across the ocean to plant and pick the lucrative crop for those white men eager to lash their aching backs with the whip of daily oppression. These plantations became the blossoms of the American economy.
On the eve of the Civil War, the Mississippi Valley, the very heart of this belt of cotton, was the richest part of the country, having more millionaires as a percentage of the population than New York and Wall Street. The aggregate monetary value placed on the enslaved population exceeded the aggregate value of the nation’s entire infrastructure and factory equipment. To hold to this wealth in cotton and slaves, the South ignited the Civil War.
Yet war is but the collision of competing political and economic interests and ideas reduced to violent, physical encounter. After the physical conflagration, the conflicting ideas and interests persists unless one side it utterly vanquished. In the American context, the Republican party is heir to the antebellum white South. The Democratic party is child of the pre-war white North. The North in the Civil War ultimately fought against slavery but it was a rare northern white who viewed a black person as his equal. Mostly for economic and political reasons, Northerners decided it was in their interest for blacks to be free but not as their friends, neighbors or equals.
Over 150 years later, the Republican and Democratic parties remain wedded, with some modest adjustments, to Civil War perspectives on blacks. While white Democrats politically ally with blacks, they do not seek black equality or genuine progress. They merely attempt the minimum necessary to keep black support. Usually this is reduced to a lot of words and a few promises most of which are broken or forgotten soon after an election is done. Republicans just want to resume cracking the whip.
Do not be fooled by the number of black speakers who appeared at the Republican Convention. Black America, like any people, has its scoundrels and opportunists just as it has heroes and martyrs. For the past four centuries, every gathering of blacks that can be described as a struggle for black freedom were infiltrated by traitors. Every slave revolt, every Civil Rights group, Garvey’s movement, Malcolm’s organization, the Black Panthers were subverted by blacks more loyal to white owners or paymasters than to the cause of their own people. Sad to say, the blacks speaking at the Republican Convention are modern disciples and honor students of the graduate school of black racial treachery.
Thus, the black Attorney General of Kentucky could bleat to the nation that Donald Trump is the savior of Western Civilization. Such an outlandish claim should bar this man from public office. In a romanticized version of things, one can say Roosevelt and Churchill, with a lot of help from Stalin, saved Western civilization from itself by teaming to defeat the Nazi onslaught. However, Trump’s redemptive value to civilization lies somewhere between that of a used car salesman and an itinerant peddler of cheap novelties and potions.
Housing Secretary Ben Carson, the once respected black neurosurgeon, asserted that Trump was a man of great empathy, without a racist bone in his anatomy. To say this, Uncle Ben had to ignore most public utterances Trump has made on race and politics. The most obvious of which are his wild claims that President Obama and now Democratic VP nominee Harris, both nominally black, were not qualified for office because they are not native-born Americans. That Trump only hurls this accusation at blacks is no accident. Yet, Carson can ignore Trump’s blatant racism because position and pocketbook have instructed him to so do. Some charitable souls would suggest with a twist of irony that the once prolific brain surgeon now appears to be in dire need of brain surgery himself. That is not the case. He has not lost his mind. He has sold his soul.
Trump’s and other speeches were replete with phrases like “law and order,” “protection of the suburbs,” and “preservation of the American way of life.” To the uninitiated, these words sound reasonable. If versed in American political history, you see these as shopworn racist euphemisms. Their true meaning is the “black scare” and “ni**er, ni**er, ni**er.” These catch phrases convey the same old message: black freedom and equality are to be kept at bay for the good of the white race. This is but the confederate theme of the Civil War converted to modern lingo. For this reason, Trump and his team bitterly oppose the removal of Confederate Civil War monuments. Most of those monuments were built over 80-100 years after the war itself. Thus, they were not built to commemorate the past; they were constructed to demonstrate that the past was very much alive.
If you don’t take my word, then take that of Trump’s running mate. In one phrase, Vice President Pence revealed the stark racism of his party. During his speech to the adoring convention, Pence said:
“The American People know we don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement and standing with our African-American neighbors…”
What! The meaning of this sentence is clear. Pence sees the “American people” as whites. Blacks may possibly be neighbors, and distant at that. However, they do not rise to the status of being “American People.” That status is a whites-only category. The word construction used by Pence was neither a slip of the tongue nor a slip in logic. Perhaps it was Freudian Slip. Willful or not, Pence meant what he said. American people are not blacks and blacks are not American people in his universe. Pence would never consider saying that “the American people know their white neighbors are not racists.” Never in a thousand millennia would he utter such a thing. He would sooner remove his tongue than give voice to such a radical sentiment.
Pence’s phraseology gives deeper context to Trump’s obsessing that Obama and Harris are unqualified for the White House. I am no fan of Obama and Harris, but that they are Americans is unassailable unless you believe America should a racist preserve.
In addition to their runaway racism, Trump and crew tried to whitewash the COVID-19 debacle. They simply glossed over the excessive deaths and the delayed or improper decisions that led to the unnecessary deaths. They touted Trump for closing air traffic to China and for pushing for a rush vaccine. However, these acts do not erase the many coffins. To make it seem like no one could have done better, Trump and team wrongfully described COVID as a once in a century event. This shows a great ignorance of history.
In 1968, the world experienced the Hong Kong Flu. Over one million people died across the global. America lost over 100,000. In 1958, there was the Asian flu. Again, over one million perished. American again lost around 100,000. Trump lived through both and, in both instances, America had roughly ten percent of global fatalities. Today, global deaths from COVID are approximately 830,000. America has lost over 180,000. This is over twenty percent of the world’s fatalities. A strong argument can be made, based on the two prior outbreaks, that American fatalities should be no more than roughly ten percent of overall deaths. Any number significantly above ten percent can be attributed to Trump’s desultory efforts. If true, over 90,000 dead bodies lie at Trump’s door. Trump is not fazed by this. He will simply ignore the bodies by using the back entrance instead.
Trump’s strongest claim would have been the economy if not for the fallout from COVID. The Convention repeatedly touted his good economic numbers and employment numbers, particularly for blacks and other minorities. The economy did improve during the first three years of Trump’s administration. However, those improvements have been more than consumed by COVID. Trump is not to blame for the onset of COVID but he is to blame for his ignorant policy response that cost lives and prolonged economic misery.
While the Republican convention was taken place, an all too familiar American tale was being repeated. Jacob Blake was shot seven times at close range by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The scene was videoed and it was brutal. Witnesses say Blake was shot after stopping a fight between two women. The police say otherwise, claiming Blake had a knife. If he had a knife, the video shows that he was not brandishing it. He was in fact walking away from two policemen when the shots were fired into his back.
No matter what transpired immediately before the shots, there was no justification to use deadly force against him. He was fleeing and did not exhibit a lethal threat. To shoot a man in the back seven times is something other than law enforcement. It is the product of an illogical rage telling the officer the human being in front of him is really a feral animal.
Contrast this with the case of a young white supremacist, Kyle Rittenhouse. When protesting began in Kenosha, Rittenhouse packed his long gun, jumped in his car and drove over 100 miles from his home in a different state to visit Kenosha. While the protests were ongoing, he shot three people, killing two. After he shot the people, protesters screamed at police to arrest Rittenhouse. Though protesters pointed him out, the police did not nothing. He walked by them with long gun strapped about him. In fact, he is caught on several videos chatting and having a good time of it with police officers. When finally arrested a day or so after, his apprehension was effectuated without a scratch to him.
If America is a land of equality, there is no reason why Blake should get shot after breaking up a fight while Rittenhouse would be allowed free passage after shooting several people. In the American perspective, Blake is a deadly treat although he seemed to have harmed no one yet Rittenhouse is seen as friendly and nonthreatening despite taking two lives just for the thrill of it.
Black lives matter but mostly just to black people. Yes, there is a growing number of whites who see the injustice and now fight it. Yet, the Republicans deplore Black Lives Matter. To racists, the idea that black people should not be murdered by law enforcement is a radical departure from American tradition. However, not to be unjustly murdered seems like a fairly decent proposition to me.
The protests against police brutality are something that startles the two political parties. Taken to their logical conclusion, the protests may alter the political terrain. The protests are the result of decades of struggle which have created a bit of leverage that blacks and nonracist whites can use. The Democrats, being the descendants of the non-slavery yet still racist North in the Civil War, try to tame and contain this outbreak to suit their limited political ends. The Republicans, being the children of the slaveholding South, want only to crush the protests. Any protests featuring black people uninhibited by fear is tantamount to a slave revolt. For Republicans, the protests are not to be understood. They are to be wiped away just as much of American history has been wiped away.
Yet, there are both black and white people who demand fairness and justice. They cannot be silenced. Of course, Trump carried his convention but he will not carry the nation, not this time. May the racists rest assured that the time is soon at hand when they will no longer be able to rest assured.