On night two of the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump performatively naturalized a group of immigrants, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the Hatch Act, and First Lady Melania Trump spoke from the Rose Garden, decrying racism about the administration’s inclusivity.
In Kenosha, Wis., two people protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake were killed by an armed militia member who’d allegedly driven into the city from more than 20 miles away.
Just another normal night in America.
The RNC, as expected, was something else. Trump’s naturalization ceremony was just one small bizarre part of a night staked around immigration and foreign relations. It nearly included Mary Ann Mendoza, a member of the Trump campaign advisory board who was pulled from the lineup after The Daily Beast revealed she encouraged her Twitter followers to read a theory about Jews enslaving the world. Her absence only made things slightly less absurd.
Abby Johnson, who believes in household voting where the husband gets the final say, told her (disputed) story of converting from director of a Planned Parenthood Clinic into a high profile anti-abortion activist. Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann appeared, discussing how the media “cancelled” him, which is clearly true, since he was giving a recorded address at a major party political convention with millions of viewers. Pompeo, meanwhile, blubbered through a canned speech about how Trump has made America and the world safer—and in doing so very likely broke the law.
The whole ordeal was stark relief to the third night of protests in Kenosha. Police violently clashed with protestors, apparently aided and abetted armed militia who had entered the city under the guise of defending its property. Allowing the militia to “handle” protestors before one of those militia members shot and killed two people might discredit those motivations somewhat.
Still, it’s difficult not to make the connection between the Kenosha protests and the vapid stink of the RNC. Video and information coming in from Wisconsin is ready-made for Trump’s looting rioter rhetoric; it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Wednesday night’s RNC proceedings make note of the violence, or for Trump himself to praise the “brave” militia shooter. In fact, we should fully expect it. The agenda is all that matters—any rule or norm or law that gets in the way of spreading it will be ignored and mocked afterward.
In the meantime, Trump will continue trotting out immigrants and other people of color to demonstrate how tolerant he is, how much he cares about people that don’t look like him. But Trump has never cared about a single immigrant he couldn’t optically exploit, including his own wife.