By Robert A. Vella
The United States is a nation tearing itself apart just like it did before the Civil War. On one side stands a diverse majority compelling America to live up to its foundational precepts of equality, democracy, liberty, and justice for all. On the other side stands an insular, fervently authoritarian minority committed to perpetuating an unequal, highly stratified society based on white supremacy maintained through culturally divisive ideologies and institutional control (see: Trump is the president of the loud minority, not silent majority). Although there have been many U.S. presidents who were either secretly racist or enablers of racism, none were overtly so… that is, until the election of Donald Trump in 2016.
From the shocking tragedy of Charlottesville three years ago to the deadly events this week in Kenosha, Wisconsin (see: The Massacre That Emboldened White Supremacists), President Trump and his “purified” Republican Party are determined to turn the 2020 campaign into a violent race war which they believe will rally enough white Americans to their side to tip the election in their favor. It has been tried before, but never on such a large scale, and never has it succeeded. To increase the odds of it succeeding this year, Trump and his allies are attempting to rig the election through targeted voter suppression schemes (e.g. sabotaging the U.S. Postal Service).
This brazen push towards fascism may not have coerced support from the U.S. Military yet (see: Mark Milley: Top US general tells Congress the military won’t play a role in the 2020 election), but it is gaining traction with municipal police forces around the country which have experienced decades of militarization and infiltration from white nationalist demographic groups. Although this transformation of police is neither complete nor has it had a lot of effect on administrative oversight, it is obviously a dangerous addition to the larger threat posed by Trump and the GOP.
That’s our focus for today’s news coverage. Of special note, Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday night not only had lower ratings than Joe Biden’s, it was also far lower than his 2016 speech and those of his recent Republican predecessors (see: President Trump’s acceptance speech draws 21.6 million TV viewers trailing the audience for Biden); and, COVID-19 cases are resurging once again in the U.S. with major employers announcing massive layoffs.
Racial injustice protesters March on Washington, D.C.
Just past dawn Friday, more than a half-century after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the Lincoln Memorial’s marble steps and offered his vision for a fair and righteous America, thousands of protesters descended on the nation’s capital at the end of a summer that has laid bare just how distant the fulfillment of his vision remains.
It had been six weeks since the death of civil rights icon and Georgia congressman John Lewis, who had been the last living speaker at the original March on Washington — where the then-23-year-old had told the crowd, “We are tired — We are tired of being beaten by policemen.”
It had been five days since a Kenosha, Wis., officer shot Jacob Blake in the back, paralyzing him in front of his children.
It had been three days since, investigators say, a White teenage vigilante with an AR-15 gunned down two men who had confronted him on a night of chaotic protests in Kenosha.
It had been two days since the country’s greatest athletes refused to take courts and fields, to entertain a country that, to many of them, did not value their Black lives as much as White ones.
And it had been less than 24 hours since President Trump accepted the Republican Party’s nomination from the South Lawn of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, transforming “The People’s House” — fortified behind concrete barriers and high metal fences — into a campaign prop. Trump gave a speech laced with falsehoods to a tightly packed crowd of more than 1,500 people, almost none wearing masks in the middle of a pandemic.
White Supremacists emboldened by Trump and police
As Kyle Rittenhouse secured a legal team Friday after being charged in the fatal shooting of two men at a protest against police brutality, demonstrators and law enforcement grapple with how the deadly gunfire in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has injected a chilling and long-feared dimension into protests.
On the streets, rocks, bottles, Molotov cocktails and fireworks served as protesters’ weapons of choice against bursts of tear gas and rubber bullets. But handguns and rifles, similar to the one Rittenhouse wielded Tuesday night, are increasingly appearing at demonstrations in gun-friendly states that allow their open display — dangling from holsters and shoulder slings. They also loom as potential game-changers for social justice advocates promoting peaceful resistance.
Earlier this week, at least one protester was wounded by gunfire near Bedford, Pennsylvania, in an encounter with local residents, as marchers were passing through on their way to a weekend demonstration in Washington, D.C. In Idaho, an 18-year-old man was sentenced to four days in jail this month for discharging a weapon near a demonstration in Boise.
One of the most unsettling events played out in Michigan this spring when armed protesters crowded inside the state Capitol to oppose a statewide coronavirus lock-down. No one was injured in the demonstration, but the images raised a troubling concern for the security of future demonstrations where firearms are readily available.
Brian Levin, director at California State University San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, called the introduction of weapons during a contentious demonstration “a recipe for disaster.”
A domestic terrorism expert who worked under President Donald Trump has accused his administration of downplaying the threat posed by right-wing terrorists.
Elizabeth Neumann, who stepped down in April as assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expressed concern at the portrayal by speakers at the Republican National Convention this week of lawless Democratic cities, where protests initially sparked by the death of George Floyd have raged throughout the U.S.
She said Trump’s rhetoric ignored the far greater threat posed by groups such as white supremacists. “It is completely a sideshow to distract from the real threat and it’s extremely dangerous,” Neumann told Skullduggery, a Yahoo News podcast.
“There are multiple arrests that the FBI has conducted in the last few months at these peaceful protests where you have right-wing extremists coming in trying to take advantage of the cover of the protests to carry out these violent acts and they are trying to start a race war.
“They’re very clear about their ideology and what they’re trying to do and we won’t say it. We won’t call it like it is and that’s a problem,” she added.