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Conventional Wisdom: Shame America First

YOU ARE CAPABLE!

YOU ARE QUALIFIED!

YOU ARE POWERFUL!

AND YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO CHOOSE YOUR LIFE AND DETERMINE YOUR DESTINY!

–Kimberly Guilfoyle plagiarizing the mantra Donald Trump shouts at his bathroom mirror reflection every morning

Our country is experiencing something none of us envisioned.

–Tim Scott stating the obvious while avoiding the orange elephant in the room

The world laughs at us, folks. The world laughs at us.

Donald Trump telling the truth, for once

After four nights, the reality show” Shouting with the Tsars,” a.k.a. the Republican National Convention, is finally over. Convened to con America and nominate Donald John Trump as its incumbent president, the RNC engaged in nightly rounds of racial poker – I’ll see your black former president, first lady and former secretary of state and raise you my black senator, football player, self-avowed Democratic Party “mental plantation”-escapee, and former prison felon – all the while bluffing that the party is a colorblind meritocracy with nary a white supremacist in sight, a utopian model of and for an America that never was and under them never will be.

To demonstrate Republican racial diversity and the ideological heterogeneity of the black community, black and brown people were invited to serve as water-carriers for a party that has shown their people nothing if not contempt. Now the RNC trots them out like contestants on the “Devil’s Apprentice” to foster the illusion that: 1) racism, if it ever really existed, is a thing of the distant past and a stranger to the party of Lincoln, 2) their presence at the podium will lure a more diverse element to the party that will make it more politically competitive, all the while adapting to its showcase of melaninated luminaries the racio-linguistic rules of n-word usage, also known as the FOX News gambit, whereby these black and brown tokens can criticize the black community in a way whites cannot without being labelled racist, and 3) in the Republican Party black lives matter, or at least these do, if only because they are necessary to secure the God-Emperor of Dumb another term.

The dramatis personae in this farcical parade of personality cultists included:

Tim Scott

Scott’s story of personal, intellectual redemption was inspirational only to those who desperately wanted to be inspired. It was meant to show that with the “right values” even a black D-student can turn his life around and become a valued party houseboy. However, his uplifting narrative only served to obscure the fact that the current occupant of the Oval Office allegedly did not earn his academic achievements, preferring to pull strings and have others do the heavy lifting for him, yet insists that Barack Obama and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez release their college transcripts and threatens to sue the educational institutions he attended if they release his own. All of which throws a wrench into the GOP’s myth of a colorblind meritocratic America and undercuts the impact of Scott’s narrative of personal perseverance and triumph.

We may never know what courses Trump failed, though it’s a good bet, judging from his performance as president, they were the same as Scott’s (English, Spanish, World Geography and Civics), and perhaps, in light of his multiple bankruptcies, business practices, and first term as president, Business Administration and Ethics, though the latter is up for debate since it was probably an elective and an unlikely choice for Trump.

For all intents and purposes, Scott was trotted out (or, more precisely, allowed himself to be trotted out) like the party’s other speakers of color as Trump’s (other) African Americans, a shortlist that includes Kanye West, Diamond and Silk, and Mike Tyson, and once included Gregory Cheadle, Trump’s original African American, who later wisely announced he was leaving the Republican party because, according to the PBS News Hour, he believes it has  a “pro-white” agenda and is using black people as “political pawns,” something Scott and his fellow collaborators might keep in mind as they prostitute themselves for Orange Don and his nepotic brood. A “whorendous” decision, to borrow a term coined by wordsmith Eric Trump – or was it simply bastardly?

Nikki Haley

Playing the race card like a Las Vegas cogger, Haley proclaimed herself a “proud daughter of Indian immigrants in a black and white world,” disingenuously reassuring her audience, despite actual and hypertextual evidence to the contrary, that “America is not a racist country”:

America respects and values every black life. The black cops who’ve been shot in the line of duty. They matter. The black small business owners who’ve seen their life’s work go up in flames. They matter. The black kids who’ve been gunned down on the playground. Their lives matter too. And their lives are being ruined and stolen by the violence on our streets. It doesn’t have to be like this. I wasn’t like this five years ago.

Sure, Nikki, tell it to the family of fellow South Carolinian Walter Scott.

Tell it to now paralyzed Jacob Blake and his traumatized sons.

Tell it to the Kenosha Police Department who were so concerned about street violence that they let a white 17-year-old, Donald Trump supporter, police wannabe/vigilante, and George Zimmerman Syndrome sufferer armed with an AR-15 who shot two people dead and wounded a third, leave the scene of the crime before finally and perhaps, given their effusive appreciation of militia support, reluctantly arresting him at his mother’s house. (Was he, like Dylan Roof, also treated to a Whopper?) In as much as both his victims were white, white lives, at least those protesting for racial justice, don’t matter either. Buffalo, New York peace activist Martin Gugino could have told the former UN ambassador as much, had she deigned to listen. But then, “white-on-white” crime has never been a priority for the GOP.

This is the same Nikki Haley who once asserted that the Confederate flag wasn’t a symbol of hate until it was “highjacked” and held up by Roof, suggesting that slavery was a benign institution and those who fought to maintain it heroes, which speaks volumes about Haley’s perverted sense of history. This is also the Nikki Haley who once defended Trump, after he made an fool of himself during an address before the UN General Assembly boasting of his accomplishment as president, by suggesting the guffaws he elicited from its members were because they “love his honesty…and they find it funny.” If they found that funny, the fact that Trump, according to the Washington Post, has made over 20,000 false or misleading statements must have them all rolling in the aisles.

Herschel Walker

Walker’s presence at the RNC was designed to personally assure the virtual(ly) all white audience that Trump is not racist and actually “shows how much he cares about social justice in the black community through his action.”

This presumably includes actions like:

・ refusing to apologize for taking out an ad in 1989 calling for execution of the Central Park Five even after they were found innocent and calling their exoneration a “disgrace,”

・insulting every woman of color who calls out his racism, misogyny, and dishonesty,

・referring to Haiti and African nations as “shithole” countries and explicitly suggesting that the “crime-” and “rat-infested” cities run by black Democrats are the same,

・underplaying the deadly impact of the coronavirus and its devastating socio-economic impact on communities of color.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey

The RNC would be remiss if it did not pimp out wealthy white victimhood. This election year the poster couple for white grievance is the McCloskeys, who took up arms to protect their home from nonviolent protesters and who as a consequence have become the privileged face of Law and Order. Yet these gun-brandishing champions of affluent homeownership and Second Amendment rights conveniently obscured the true victims of real home invasions: Breonna Taylor, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, and Kenneth Chamberlain Sr, to name but a few. Unlike the McCloskeys, these victims did not bear witness at the RNC; they are dead.

In the end, the RNC chose to spin the “greatness” of America, while its leadership strives systematically to dismantle the very principles it claims to hold dear. Steeped in hagiology, it refused to acknowledge the cruelty of its Dear Leader, all the while insisting that we not concern ourselves with the fact that Trump wants to protect the “homeland” by not just building a wall but demanding that it be designed to deliberately maim those who attempt to breech it.

But the price of this panglossian outlook is myopic denial: of the reality of American racism, of science, of fact and reason, and the raging incompetence of their golden idol.

All of the shouting, bluster, and flag-humping jingoism on display at the RNC was a distraction as the circus master conspires to undermine the foundations of democracy with the same brazen hypocrisy with which Jerry Falwell Jr. celebrates family values, though we are now the cuckolds who watch as 45 screws our country.

Meanwhile, as a petulant Trump stamps his tiny feet in objection to defunding the police and threatens to defund the UPS to impede mail-in voting, his Republican enablers mobilize the arsenal of more conventional means they have traditionally deployed to suppress the vote of black and brown people, the same people Trump claims to have done more for (to?) than anyone.

Sadly, those who should have held Trump’s feet to the fire have instead held their tongues. A recently leaked tape to The Independent revealed that in 2017, speaking on Martin Luther King Jr Day before a group of black leaders that included Martin Luther King III, Trump boasted that the low black turnout in 2016 helped him secure the presidency and claimed that black voters stayed home because they “liked” him over Hillary Clinton. Ever the hyperbolic center of the known universe, he also reportedly boasted that “I listen better to the African American people than anybody else. Anybody else in this room,” apparently forgetting the composition of his audience. Yet this audience, the paper reports, while stunned by the statement, did not censure or publicly criticize him for it. This raises an unsettling question: If these “prominent civil rights activists” won’t stand up for themselves, how can they be expected to stand up for those they ostensibly lead. Were the shiny baubles Trump dangled before them worth their silence?

Hopefully, while some black “leaders” nurse their silence, those whom they represent will make their voice known at the polls in massive numbers. Given what is at stake, black Americans will need to vote in record numbers. In the unlikely event their vote is not suppressed, Trump will be defeated, though the game changers remain the electoral college and poll-skewing crypto-Trumpists. Still, if the parade of, to borrow the title of an old C.M. Kornbluth story, “marching morons” at the RNC is any indication, one should never underestimate the fact that the spectacle of stupidity on defiant display (remember the TV show “Jackass”?) can draw ratings – and reactionary white votes. Moreover, the danger remains that even if he loses the election, Trump will refuse to concede, leave, and surround his regime with loyal, armed federal agents as the courts try to resolve yet another in a never-ending series of constitutional crises.

Despite these very real fears, convention speakers presented Trump as tough on crime – others’, not his own – which is telling considering that Trump and his cronies continue to violate the law with impunity. This time around, Trump, his Cabinet officials and family members, apparently emboldened by indifference over the Goya incident, committed mulitiple violations of the Hatch Act during the convention itself by politicizing the federal government and using the White House as a campaign prop, all on the taxpayer’s dime. His defenders also presented Trump as tough on China, as if :1) orchestrating a hostile takeover of a Chinese company to enable an American company to secure its popular app and ultimately share its data with or have it surreptitiously monitored by the NSA[1] and 2) turning a virus into a xenophobic slur are somehow a measure of his manhood, which our home-grown, would-be Lukashenko has previously assured us is without problem, though some would beg to differ.

Yes, the world laughs at us, and rightly so.

If the RNC taught us anything, it is that Donald Trump and the GOP have always shamed America first, but never so often and as much as now.

Note.

1) When it comes to spying on Americans, why leave to corporate communists what corporate capitalists do best. Just ask James Clapper. Strike that; he’d only (im)plausibly deny itwith impunity.

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