Convention Tension: RNC 2020
On this episode of democracy-ish, Danielle and Toure dig into the news of the week, including the 2020 Republican National Convention in all its unhinged glory.
In the wake of yet another shooting of an unarmed Black man by police, protests erupted across the nation. In Kenosha, violence ensued –– perpetrated by a teenage gunman.
Republicans mounted their own unconventional convention this week. But it was just plain weird, and not because of the pandemic.
The RNC featured a number of Black speakers, a whole lot of lies and even some things that are probably illegal.
This week, Danielle is back from vacation, but because the Trump-era shitshow never takes a day off, she’s not exactly well-rested.
“I'm fucking tired. You're fucking tired. Black America is tired,” she says to Toure.
Last Sunday, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot 29-year-old Black man Jacob Blake in the back seven times, leaving him paralyzed. The incident reignited demonstrations nationwide, including in Kenosha itself. On the third night of unrest there, a 17-year-old gunman shot three people, two of whom died. And the protests go on.
“The Blake family is calling on folks to stop with the destruction of property,” Danielle says. “Here's what I say about that. Fuck your property, which is capitalism which is steeped in white supremacy and built on our backs.”
We’re living in an America where many people care more about property than human lives. And that was made abundantly clear at the Republican National Convention.
“Even though we heard they aren’t into ‘cancel culture,’ the right has deep, serious hatred toward left-wing protesters,” Toure says.
And that’s where we begin this week. Take a deep breath, and let’s get into it.
Episode Highlights –– RNC Madness
Another killing … this time, in Kenosha
Jacob Blake is now another on a long list of names we wish we didn’t know by heart.
“I have at least 25 videos of Black people being murdered in my head that I can call up at a moment's notice,” says Toure. “Even more than great dunks from the NBA. And I'm sure every Black person who's listening can say the same.”
Even though Jake isn’t dead, his life and his family’s life is irrevocably changed. And there's not much difference between this case and the countless murders of Black Americans by police, “because they shot him seven times in the back,” Toure adds. “They weren't just trying to harm him. They were trying to kill him.”
That's an important point, one that we haven’t heard in media coverage, says Danielle.
“Who fires seven shots and expects somebody to survive?”
What we did hear from the media was a lot of “vague, Orwellian police talk that’s meant to obfuscate and confuse,” Toure notes.
“If I hear one more newscaster, like Brian Williams, call it an officer-involved shooting, I will leap through the screen and strangle a motherfucker.”
That kind of phrasing is deliberately vague, he adds. It could mean that an officer was shot, or that an officer did the shooting.
“The 'involved' sounds almost serendipitous, like the officer just happened to be there when there was a shooting.”
At the RNC, Jake Blake, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor didn’t seem to exist. But the gun-wielding mansion-defenders the McCloskeys got their time to shine.
As did “the little piece of shit Catholic high-schooler,” who harassed an indiginous protester on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Danielle points out. “He gets center stage to talk about how lambasted he was in the media. Gimme a break.”
Said teen claimed that he wore a MAGA hat because he liked Trump's policies and that the media leapt to conclusions about him.
“Fuck you,” says Toure. “You are who we thought you were. If you weren't, you wouldn't be at the RNC.”
Republicans gaslight the way
The convention was “full of lies, gaslighting and truth-twisting,” even by the Republicans’ own standards, says Toure.
“They so love the idea that Black unemployment rate is super low, but can't name a single policy they enacted that led to it. Yet they’ll claim responsibility for it all day long,” he adds. “It's fucking bizarre. I'm tired of being yelled at by coked-up sons of Trump.”
“Don't forget [DJT Jr.’s] girlfriend, Kimberly, and the Cruella de Vil act she did in an empty theater,” Danielle replies.
Another gem from the RNC: The Dems want to abolish the suburbs.
“I'd love to get rid of the McCloskeys and everybody like them,” says Danielle. “But the idea that we care more in this country about property than we do Black people is exactly why we have to be in the streets chanting that Black lives matter.”
Meanwhile, she adds, “we're supposed to stay calm, where we're supposed to be at peace with the fact that every single fucking day we are watching Black people get shot and killed or maimed. Like it's a video game.”
Concrete, sparkles and criminal justice
The Republicans left no stone unturned when it came to finding as many Black and Brown Americans they could to appear at their con, including NFL star Herschel Walker, Georgia state rep Vernon Jones (a ‘Democrat’) and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (who’s supposedly in charge of investigating Breonna Taylor's murder).
And South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, whose remarks could be summed up with, Trump is for the Black people because he's nice to me, Danielle points out.
Herschel Walker, too, argued that “he’s nice to me; ergo, he can't be racist,” Toure says. “It’s dumb bullshit. Trump's racism is essential to his appeal. He's all about the elevation of whiteness, so to claim that he's not racist is bizarre at this point.”
The ‘Pubs love to “throw out words like education, criminal justice,” she adds. “And I'm like, concrete, sparkles. Are we just naming things?”
‘Tap dancing’ to safety
Toure and Danielle aren’t the first to point this out, but the Herschel Walkers and Tim Scotts of the world weren’t really here to tell Black people Trump isn’t racist.
“They're here to tell white people he's not racist, so don't feel bad about your choice,” says Toure.
“They are Black cover,” Danielle chimes in. “As long as there are Black people who will do a jig and tap dance because it puts coins in their pocket, white people will say, look at that good one, we're not racist.”
Those Black folks forget that in another era, slaves strived to be thought of as ‘docile’ by their masters so they’d be held close –– and ostensibly, ‘safe.’
“People who are so desperate and thirsty for white approval will shun their own skin,” says Danielle. “They’ll shun their own skin folk to some type of proximity to power.”
That strategy was embodied by Vernon Jones, a self-described “independent thinker” who’s not on a “mental plantation.”
The ‘plantation’ line was paraphrased from the late Herman Cain, although “nobody mentioned his fucking name at the RNC,” Danielle says. “Their good Black friend who they killed with COVID at the Tulsa rally.”
Danielle doesn’t have time for Black folks who rally for the right wing.
“I don't want to lift them up,” she says. “But –– independent thinker? Really? You're a sellout and you're embarrassing.”
Black Republicans almost never have actual policies or arguments to promote, Toure notes. “It's just, I'm an independent thinker. But you're not. You’re just following another herd.”
Reality v. ‘hellscape’
The Democrats are far from perfect, but it’s clear that “there's one party trying to help,” says Toure. “Whether or not they’re successful –– we can argue about that. But there's another party that's like, fuck you, Blacks. We're down with white supremacy.”
When he watched the DNC, he felt like he was “watching reality,” he says. “This is what America actually is. With the RNC I was like, I don't recognize the country you're talking about. It's almost like they wrote these speeches six months ago and barely changed them.”
At RepubCon, the economy is better than ever, and COVID was spoken about in the past tense.
“It's also the China virus,” says Toure.
And there was a “paucity of serious people who can stand up for Trump and say he's doing a good job,” he adds. “The inability to even construct a serious argument about why he should have more time is kind of frightening.”
Plus, there was a serious lack of cohesiveness to the Republicans’ arguments. They seemed to say that all is well under Trump’s leadership, but also … things are really bad.
“America is great, but it's also a hellscape,” Danielle says.
Melania’s garden (cat) walk
Wednesday night’s festivities were capped off by none other than the First Lady herself.
“Let's talk about Melanoma for a minute,” Danielle says. “I don't know who gave her enough design cred to ruin the White House Rose Garden. I don't know what kind of Hitler-chic ensemble she had on. Or why we had to do a Kim Jong Un catwalk to the garden she ruined.”
But, she adds, “as I listened to this mail-order bride talk about her immigration journey, I'm like, bitch, you married rich, okay?”
Somebody recently criticized Danielle of slut-shaming Melania and talking about her as if she’s a sex worker.
“Sex workers should have rights,” she says. “And I am not shaming sluts. I am shaming her because she’s the epitome of everything that’s wrong.”
Danielle asks: Can you imagine if Michelle Obama wasn’t born here? Or if we saw naked photos of Jackie O.?
Those who defend Melania also tend to talk about morality and faith “as if we can't fucking Google,” she says. “Okay. I'm done.”
Danielle isn’t, though.
“She's a whore. Let me just punctuate it with that.”
Pompeo and circumstances
Melania’s speech was the finale of the RNC’s “immigration reality show” featuring new citizens from what Trump would refer to as “shithole countries,” Toure says. “It was just extremely gross, especially from a president who has made immigrants his biggest villains.”
As a child of immigrants, Danielle found it “unfathomable” to see a citizenship ceremony “turned into a fucking mockery.”
Toure thinks that if we were to present the Trump administration as a movie or a novel, we’d all think: Too ridiculous.
“Jordan Peele couldn't write it,” says Danielle. “Stephen King couldn't make it. His imagination would have been like, they're not gonna buy it. It's too much.
That was perhaps best exemplified by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s live broadcast from Jerusalem. The fact that he addressed the convention at all “is explicitly against the rules,” Toure says.
“But they don't care. They will talk about law and order. Their lack of respect for democracy, and the traditions and rules that make America what it is, is breathtaking. Why didn’t they just do it at Mar-a-Lago?”
“Because it's infested with COVID,” Danielle deadpans.
America: steady as she goes
So here we are, in the middle of Trump's hellscape.
“I feel fairly confident we'll have an America next week,” says Toure.
“You do?” Danielle asks.
“I think there will be other weeks within the next 70 days when we'll be far more scared about whether or not democracy will survive. But right now, I think she's in steady condition. Holding.”
Democracy in a holding pattern: That’s something to pray about.
Get your weekly rundown of the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view on democracy-ish. Consider Danielle Moodie and Toure as your tour guides, flight attendants and/or therapists as we move through this dumpster fire of an election cycle — together!