The America we’re seeing right now is not just Trump’s America. It’s the GOP’s America. After two decades to demanding no restrictions on guns and militarizing our police, we have overly aggressive law enforcement officers making the assumption that everyone is armed, especially Black men. Despite the prevalence of cell phone videos, police continue to shoot unarmed Black men while ignoring heavily armed White ones.
The episode in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is especially disturbing. Police called to a domestic disturbance shot a man seven times in front of his children as he tried to enter his van to leave. In the riots that followed, armed right-wing militia showed up on the streets of Kenosha. According to reports, police welcomed them and offered them water. When a 17-year-old armed with an AR-15 shot three people, he was able to walk past police officers running toward the sound of shots. They apparently didn’t consider a White man with a gun as much of a threat as a Black man without one. Had a Black man with a gun walked toward a line of police officers after shots had been fired, we all know the outcome would have been different.
The NRA and their affiliate, the Republican Party, have been telling us for decades that more guns make us safer. That’s clearly not true. Police now assume that everyone has a gun so any objection to their intervention is considered a threat. And Black men apparently are especially threatening to the cops. Otherwise, videos of cops shooting unarmed White men would surface every few weeks, too.
Trump has stoked divisions in the country since he first began his campaign in 2015. He railed against immigrants, calling them criminals and “rapists,” playing to the fears and prejudices of his base. He called white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville “good people” after one of the racists plowed into a crowd, killing a young woman. He rejected renaming military bases named for Confederate generals or removing monuments to the Confederacy that adorn public property. As the country demands a reckoning for its abysmal record on race, Donald Trump is standing in history’s doorway.
Republicans, for their part, are doing what conservatives have always done—blaming the victim and making excuses for discrimination. In George Floyd, they saw a thug, not a victim. In Kyle Rittenhouse, the vigilante in Kenosha, they see a victim, not a thug. In Congress, they’ve blocked bills to restore the Voting Rights Act and to curb excessive force by police. They are standing with Trump and condemning protesters who believe they have no other options but to take to the streets since GOP led legislatures and U.S. Senate that refuse to address the inequality that’s so obvious to everyone else. In short, they stand with the flawed status quo instead of embracing the concept of building a more perfect union.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >