Look Back in Nausea, Part II
Out in the streets: Conservatives vs. Black Lives Matter
[I’ll have a few 2020 lookbacks this week. First one is here.]
Since his promotion of birther claims that Obama is a Kenyan pretender, racism has been a key piece of Trump’s appeal, and this is especially true when he can blame dark-skinned people for violence and promise protection to his fellow honkies. He got into office snarling about Mexican rapists and fought in the courts for years, assisted by Nazi sidekick Steven Miller, to expel Muslims as a terrorist threat. Even as recently as his February 2020 State of the Union Trump ejaculated demon-furriner outrages: “Just 29 days ago, a criminal alien freed by the sanctuary city of New York was charged with the brutal rape and murder of a 92-year-old woman,” bawled the heir to the seat of George Washington. (CNN naturally called this “a daunting warning to a band of Democrats who couldn’t even cobble together a winner in the Iowa caucuses on Monday that he’s an effective, relentless political communicator who will stop at nothing to win.”)
Seems so long ago, now: A few months later George Floyd was egregiously murdered by cops, leading to a nationwide tsunami of protests against police killings of black people — or, as conservatives liked to call them, riots, notwithstanding most of them were no such thing, particularly after the early weeks. (Remember, as any harsh word spoken against a conservative is a horrible slur, any gathering of three or more persons against conservative policy is a riot. It’s in the Bible!)
These protests were a special threat to conservatives, as they emphasized that, in the main, it was black people who had to fear violence from Caucasian authority rather than vice-versa. And as the protests and their message swept through even small towns and red states, wingnuts went wild with fear.
For example, there was the worst supervillain teamup this side of Suicide Squad: Rod Dreher and James Lileks: “[Lileks] posts images of gang graffiti,” Godboy Rod quivered. “...Also a Mexican gang that is heavily involved in human trafficking — they tagged a wall.” Eek! Dreher’s conclusion: “You see that kind of [graffiti] scrawled on the wall of a building in the city that’s in the process of being burned down by Antifa,” quivered Dreher, “and you might think differently about Trump’s obnoxious boast about shooting rioters.”
Thus was born the Antifa Will Re-Elect Trump meme! Or so they thought; but even a lot of white people weren’t buying it. When Tubby gassed the protestors outside St. John’s and waddled out to wave his Bible, Breitbart’s Joel Pollak thought he had it made: “In fact,” he predicted, “Trump’s gestures held immense positive significance for the country and will likely be remembered that way.” Polls, however, suggested that for voters Trump had covered himself not with glory but with poo.
So conservatives blubbered some more about how protestors (aka rioters) were more dangerous than killer cops (at least if you were white, and if you weren’t they weren’t talking to you). “What about the people who have died in the rioting? The businesses that have been damaged and destroyed?” cried National Review’s Byron York in his denunciation of the riot-coddling... George W. Bush. Why, “Barack Obama showed much more understanding and concern about those victims,” York said. (And you can imagine how hard it was for him to say! But such is race war.)
Senator Tom Cotton (Fascist-AR) called for protestors to be murdered by the military, a couple of honky nutjobs in St. Louis flashed guns at protestors, and cops split the difference by beating up protestors and bystanders randomly. None of this, surprisingly, made the conservative course of action more popular with voters — which may be why the Washington Post’s Megan McArdle cried IT’S NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE! In a particularly huh-what column McArdle compared Americans’ reaction to Black Lives Matter to a stupid internet dress meme:
Some people saw a white and gold dress; others insisted it was blue and black. Neither could understand how anyone could see anything different. But after some head-shaking, the two camps walked away friends...
This weekend, a short clip circulated on Twitter, showing a female protester in a street as a line of cops advances. One officer shoves her...
Sadly, normal human beings and racist rageaholics did not walk away friends — not, per McArdle, because there was a genuine moral issue, but “because video contains so much rich visual information” it’s just darned hard to know whether the heavily armed cop wasn’t the real victim here. Can’t we all just agree capitalism is awesome?
In desperations conservatives drummed up a COVID-protest crossover claim — that protesters, not masklessness, spread the virus. As anyone knew who saw the protests — outdoor events at which most participants were masked — and compared them with, say, the Sturgis biker rally/COVID-cluster of MAGA dumbasses, this was bullshit, but propagandists such as National Review’s Jim Geraghty (“A man arrested at a protest in Lancaster, Pa., tested positive for the coronavirus... Then there’s the question of face-touching and use of pepper spray and tear gas”) and random racist dummies on Twitter still acted as if, to the extent that COVID existed at all, it was caused by BLM.
Conservatives only began to relax about alleged protestor violence when their newest hero, Kyle Rittenhouse, murdered a couple of them, with the blessing of Rod Dreher: “The world would be better off with more Kyles and fewer dirtbags than the child molester he shot,” howled Godly Rod. (Dreher also decided that George Floyd had it coming. God, what a piece of shit that guy is.)
The Rittenhouse slayings appear to have been the Kent State moment that quieted the rebellion, at least for the moment. Wingnuts, perhaps sensing that they couldn’t elect Trump as a fatherly Fuhrer-figure without protests to call riots, took to blubbering over the collateral damage they caused: They wept that protestors had toppled statues of their beloved Confederate generals, and that their media enablers had made it impossible to watch Gone With The Wind on the streaming service of their choice! But their sorrow was not contagious: not only did a Democrat with a black running mate win the election by seven million votes, when Robert E. Lee was hauled out of the Capitol’s Statuary Hall last month, only a small brotherhood of sad freaks joined their mourning.
Moral: Conservatives are still avid white supremacists, but they aren’t getting the pass on it that they once did. So they’re squeezing white supremacy extra hard to extract such juice from it as is left. Take the tape of Tubby’s attempt shakedown of the Georgia Secretary of State: he thought he could rattle the guy by yelling about the dark menace of Stacey Abrams, largely credited with turning the state blue in 2020. “She has outplayed you,” Trump burbled. “…Stacey Abrams is laughing about you know she’s going around saying these guys are dumber than a rock.” He was clearly trying to give his fellow white man the message: Those people stole our state from us, are you gonna let them get away with it? Here’s hoping more of us learn, as Raffensperger apparently did, not to take the bait.