I'm not saying this facetiously or coyly. I don't have anything profound to say, and most of what's been said on the news all day is far more meaningful and substantive, lead by Mr. Burke's mother (who said, among many things, that "America is great when America acts great") and sister.The only thing I have to note is a very minor personal reaction. It's pretty close to meaningless at that, but for me it adds a personal reaction that, no matter how small, allows me to look at the shooting and events in Kenosha differently than elsewhere. Not better, not more meaningfully, just different.
Unlike the other recent murders of black people by the police, I've been to Kenosha. Not often, and not for a while, but enough to have a sense of the place.
Kenosha is in the lower south east corner of Wisconsin, just across the Illinois border. It's about a half-hour from Milwaukee, where my brother lived for a while with his first wife, and I'd visit. The train went past Kenosha, and if you drove up Interstate 94 it went through Kenosha. The last time I was in the town, it was when I was back home in Glencoe, Illinois, and drove up about 50 minutes to see a minor league baseball game. At the time, the team there was affiliated with the Minnesota Twins -- they were the Kenosha Twins. It was a nice, little ballpark in a nice, little town.
In fact, I was in Kenosha twice on that trip. Really. The second time was because I got about halfway back home when I realized I'd left behind the Kenosha Twins baseball cap that I'd bought. And when I returned to the ballpark, the cap was still there. No one had seen a baseball cap just laying there in an empty stadium and taken it. That was Kenosha.
It was also, of course, sick, infuriating, shameful, disgusting, sad and so much more. And my reaction only touches the surface that others live with.
This wasn't Seattle or Minneapolis or name the big city, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, wherever. This was Kenosha. Yes, I know that such things have happened in small towns for many decades. But the perspective of knowing a place and knowing its charm not only add a depth to one's personal reaction, but it also points to the larger world outside there that sets the groundwork for such things to happen.
One of my first reactions yesterday was, gee, I wonder if anyone at the Republican National Convention today is thinking, "Hmmm, maybe we shouldn't have given a featured platform to that married couple from Missouri who waved a rife and protesters and got indicted on a felony." My second reaction was, nah, I don't think anyone at the RNC thought that. And if they did, they kept it to themselves.
Tonight, in one of the few live speeches, so it was presented after all of these events in Kenosha took place, vice president Pence said, "We will have law and order on the streets of America." Obviously, he was speaking to his white supremacist base about the rioting. Lost in the sick irony of that is the reason that cause all the rioting -- and cancelled games in protest: that a police officer shot an unarmed black man in the back seven times while holding his shirt. How does that fit into the Pence picture of "law and order" (sic)? How does a young man immersed in white supremacist groups and openly carrying an AR-15 rifle down the street while murdering two people fit into that Pence picture of "law and order" (sic)? The fact that the Pence-Trump picture of "law and order" (sic) does not include white people, does not include the police murdering black people is the very foundation of the lack of law and order in the country. Which is the definition of sick.
And to be clear, for all the Trump efforts to paint a dystopian view of the country to come in supposedly Joe Biden's America, it cannot be stated enough that ALL of these dark, bleak, tragic images of that horrible, scary America are -- in fact -- in Trump's America.
This is Trump's America.
Kenosha used to be Small Town America. Now? It's in Trump's America.
And it must be added: this is not about Trump, we know who he is. This is about the elected members of the Republican Party who enable him, applaud him, have blood on their hands and are fully complicit.