The President of the United States is in Kenosha today, the place where, several days ago, a white police officer grabbed the edge of a Black man’s t-shirt with one hand and shot him in the back seven times with the other. Before leaving the White House, the President wanted us to know that the shooting by the white police office which has, apparently, resulted in the Black man being paralyzed from the waist down, was just one of those things, you know, like when a golfer chokes and misses that three-foot putt or a pitcher suddenly gets the yips. Just a little quirky anomaly, an oops moment, albeit this one with quite a bit of blood left on the pavement.
Kenosha’s mayor and county executive both asked the President not to visit. They worried that his presence would engender more protests and that law enforcement would be stretched to do the traditional presidential protection business along with general peacekeeping in the community. Our governor, our sweet, Mr. Rogers, ‘please don’t kill the spider, catch him and put him outside’ governor, wrote a letter! where he said in the most uncertain terms that maybe the President ought not come just now. That’s as forceful as our guy gets. We love him for it, though. When we’re not wishing we had a little more Arnold and a little less Mr. Rogers. Oh well.
So the President came because, of course, he could give a fuck. And law enforcement, whoever that is, decided it would be swell to tag along with Republican legislators and look at all the terrible, heinous, life-changing building destruction that occurred. The wringing of hands and weeping had to have been gut-wrenching for all. Maybe even rending of garments, I don’t know, not having been there. A burnt out store is, indeed, a pitiful thing inasmuch as it represents someone’s livelihood, but a building can be rebuilt. They better make sure it’s wheelchair accessible so that the Black man shot in front of his three sons can come shopping.
In what may be the only thing of true beauty that I have seen in days, the family of the Black man organized a community gathering at the same time the President visited. Food, talk, voter registration, young, old, Black, white, and this: dozens of people doing the Electric Slide. I saw video on Facebook and it nearly made me cry. People with their masks on, several feet apart, smooth sometimes, out of step others, a new guy trying, another group looking like they’re rehearsed for hours, everyone smiling and mellow, it was so American and so beautiful. I thought, thank God for this. Talk about healing a place, a time, a country. This is what that looks like.
They were on the other side of town from where the President was stoking his little flame of hatred and anger. There was no dancing where the President was, only his preening and lying, his entourage nodding with the wretchedness that comes from having to swallow such large bites of dishonor. It’s hard to believe that we have such a President but we do, harder to believe he has followers but he does.
In one day, in one town, all you need to know about the future of our country is laid out plain as day. We can go one way or the other. It’s up to us. This is it. November 3rd.