Graves: Wandering in a moral desert
I have always thought it would end up in the streets. And if (God forbid) Donald Trump is reelected, it is only going to get worse. Mr. Trump talks about the violence and unrest in some of the nation's cities as if it has happened on someone else's watch.
I guess the buck never stops at the deflector-in-chief's desk. Mr. Trump just lights the fuses and then claims he is the only person who can deal with the explosion.
As we have been made painfully (and sometimes fatally) aware as the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the country, Mr. Trump has never been noted for down the road thinking. How long can people meekly watch as members of their race are stigmatized, marginalized, and murdered? When will the right's conception of "law and order" apply to the lives of victims of mindless violence — most of it involving guns — as intensely as their concern for the destruction of property that lies in the wake of it?
It defies belief that, in a nation still reeling from the senseless and sadistic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, when the racial temper in America is as fragile as a dried leaf, that a white police officer would shoot a Black man in the back seven times in front of his children. But that is exactly what happened in Kenosha, Wis. on Aug. 19.
Shooting a man with his back to you seven times has nothing to do with any responsible person's conception of law enforcement. Whatever threat the officer perceived from Jacob Blake didn't necessitate firing seven bullets. (Form your hand into a make-believe gun and pull the imaginary trigger seven times. You may be surprised at the amount of time that it takes.) That police officer invested himself with the mantle of judge, jury, and executioner. The fact that Mr. Blake didn't die of his injuries qualifies as a miracle, but the 29-year-old man is paralyzed from the waist down.
In the ensuing protests over the disgusting incident in Kenosha, a city with an abysmal history of racial intolerance, a motley gang of self-appointed vigilantes sprang out of the backwoods to "assist" the police. These are the types of people that Donald Trump has encouraged and empowered since he first announced his intention to run for the presidency with his "Mexican rapists" comment. Among them was a 17-year-old boy. It is worth noting that 17-year-olds are not allowed to vote or to drink in this country and are legally considered to be children.
But Kyle Rittenhouse still had a Smith & Wesson AR-15-style .223 rifle and he was wandering the streets of Kenosha looking for trouble. He found it. Before the night was over, he had killed two people and wounded a third before he walked past a group of police officers and fled to Illinois where he was eventually arrested.
Aside from the paralyzing of a young man, the murder of two others, and the further alienation of the Black from the white race, the Kenosha tragedy spawned another potentially terrible ramification. The Republican Party seizes upon these incidents like drowning sailors cling to bits of wreckage (an apt metaphor in many ways). Donald Trump, who unleashed tear gas on peaceful protesters in Washington so he could obscenely hold up a Bible in front of a church, can now use Kenosha to stoke white fear that America is succumbing to Black lawlessness and chaos. Only he can save us.
Trump decided to give the Republican National Convention a sort of family reunion flavor. He has a history of installing relatives in positions of importance, presumably because they are either the least likely to acquire a sense of integrity or the easiest to whip into line if they do.
The whole clan was invited to pitch in with the exception, of course, of niece Mary, who assumed black sheep status with the publication of her book that chronicled Uncle Donald's history of moral and ethical corruption. Notable among the speakers for the erstwhile Family Values Party was Don, Jr.'s current squeeze, whose unhinged enthusiasm bordered on the manic and the elusive Tiffany Trump, who commiserated with other young adults about how tough it was to find a job.
Wife Melania, whose insufferable stone-faced vapidity is often mistaken for deep thinking, tried once more to capture the spot in the public's imagination that Jacqueline Kennedy once occupied. After being publicly humiliated by her husband's sexual dalliance with a porn star (prostitution, with a camera and pretenses to art involved), the third Mrs. Trump once again spoke about her commitment to civility that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough rightfully called "absolutely shameless."
Many of Mr. Trump's inner circle who aren't currently incarcerated spoke about the pandemic in the past tense as if wishful thinking could make it go away. Kellyanne Conway assured us of Mr. Trump's warm and fuzzy nature and how sensitive he is to women and their problems, with the notable exception of the 25 who have filed sexual misconduct lawsuits against him. (Conway, you may recall, had the colossal gall to call Joe Biden "creepy.")
Ms. Conway is using the old "devoting more time to my family" excuse to leave her position as a Trump advisor. In this particular instance, however, it might be true. The day before Conway's announcement, her 15-year-old daughter tweeted that she was seeking emancipation from her parents after "years of trauma and abuse."
At least Kellyanne may finally have some sense of how the rest of the country feels after having been subjected to four years of the same thing from her boss.
Trump had to deal with the ultimate humiliation after the love-a-thon was over—the Democrats got better television ratings.
Alden Graves writes a regular column for the Journal.
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