Half of the Republican National Convention is in the books, and the New York Times' “On Politics” newsletter editor Giovanni Russonello found racism everywhere he looked, both in what was said and what was not said on stage.
On Night 1 of the G.O.P. convention, no speaker mentioned Jacob Blake, a Black man who had been shot in the back on Sunday by police officers in Kenosha, Wis., after trying to break up a fight. Nor did anyone mention, say, the country’s gaping racial wealth gap, or the disproportionate impact of pollution on Black communities.
Instead, many Republican speakers assailed the protesters fighting racial injustice in cities across the country, portraying them as violent and extreme and arguing that as president, Mr. Biden would encourage them to run amok.
Merely “portraying them as violent”? Does Russonello think the Republican Party is making up the documented accounts of rioting and looting?
That message -- that Democrats prefer anarchy over order, and that they are a threat to the safety of the country -- has come to define President Trump’s re-election campaign. It’s a message rife with racial undertones, and we’re likely to hear a lot more of it as the Republican convention continues this week….
Yet the Republicans’ focus on the protests has to do with more than just safety and order: It gives Mr. Trump an opportunity to turn up the dial on an argument that has always been central to his political identity.
Mr. Trump won the 2016 election largely by playing up white racial resentment, and by targeting those white voters who felt the country’s traditional identity was under attack.
Russonello twisted reluctance to tear down statues of the Founding Fathers (who he reduced to mere slaveholders) as evidence of racism.
Even today, Americans remain divided over whether it’s a good idea to take down monuments to symbols of white supremacy, including those devoted to Confederate leaders. When asked specifically about statues of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, both of whom owned slaves, nearly three-quarters of registered voters told Fox News pollsters last month that they should stay up.
In his lowest blow, he roped the now-famous former Kentucky high-schooler (and Republican convention speaker) Nicholas Sandmann into the toxic mix.
You can expect racial resentment to remain a central theme on Night 2 of the convention, where the speakers will include Nicholas Sandmann, the teenager who got in a dispute with a Native American man at a protest last year….
Sandmann, who in his convention speech Tuesday night excoriated the media for lying about his ordeal at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. in January 2019, was barely noticed in the paper’s coverage. It was noted in passing that he has sued the Times “for allegedly misrepresenting an encounter between him and a Native American protester during demonstrations on the National Mall,” while a fact check snottily denigrated “the culture war bombast of speakers like Nick Sandmann and Eric Trump,” without details. (Sandmann has already settled suits with CNN and The Washington Post).
The “racist” drumbeat continued with Lisa Lerer and Sydney Ember’s analysis of Night Two.
On the first night of their convention, Republicans appealed to “quiet neighborhoods” by warning of vengeful mobs of “anarchists.”
And the Republicans were again proven correct again, this time with scary images of left-wing thugs terrorizing restaurant diners in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of D.C.
Speaker after speaker extolled the president as steady steward of the country’s promise, casting Democrats as radical leftists intent on destroying the American way of life.
The message seemed tailored to suburban voters -- the people who were instrumental in Mr. Trump’s win in 2016. It built on the previous evening’s effort to convince those voters that the president wasn’t racist, despite years trafficking in racist tropes and nicknames.