David A. Love is a writer, commentator and journalism and media studies professor based in Philadelphia. He contributes to a variety of outlets, including The Appeal, theGrio and Al Jazeera. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidALove. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his. View more opinion articles on CNN.

(CNN)The Republican National Convention embodied a strategy by President Donald Trump’s campaign to divide and conquer on the issue of race. This was an effort to change the subject from a raging pandemic that the White House has arguably exacerbated, an economic crisis with historic widespread unemployment that the government refuses to adequately address and the onset of one of the largest social justice movements in US history.

David Love David Love David Love The revisionist narrative presented at the RNC hinges on appealing to the GOP base by warning of a dystopian Democratic hellscape in which Black Lives Matter protesters loot and create mayhem. However, this time the strategy will fail. White politicians using race-baiting is a time-tested strategy to garner White support. Republicans mastered this technique with the Southern Strategy over decades — criminalizing Blackness and capitalizing on White resentment over civil rights through an anti-government message — followed by Birtherism and the raw ethnonationalism of Make America Great Again. Now, Trump’s election year racial targets seem to be Black Lives Matter, low-income housing and housing desegregation in the suburbs… and Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. At a time when systemic racism, racial violence and police brutality have gained national attention with the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, and then the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Black Lives Matter has emerged as perhaps the largest movement in US history. It enjoys widespread public support and participation, as 15 to 26 million people have participated in the George Floyd protests, and the NBA and WNBA, along with professional baseball, hockey, soccer and tennis players have staged a historic strike to stand against racism. Desperate, and facing a potential wipeout in the 2020 election, the Republican Party is depicting Black Lives Matter as a radical mob of leftists and Marxists that would undermine what Trump called the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream,” in an effort to woo White suburban voters. To that end, Trump has railed against low-income housing and has rescinded Obama-era rules against housing discrimination.Read More”You know, the suburbs, people fight all of their lives to get into the suburbs and have a beautiful home. There will be no more affordable housing forced in to the suburbs,” he said in July, claiming that with the Obama policy rollback housing values would increase, and crime would decrease in suburbia. In a recent interview with Fox News, US Attorney General William Barr — echoing the McCarthyism of the 1950s and J. Edgar Hoover’s attacks on the civil rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s — called the Black Lives Matter protesters “fascistic,” “Bolsheviks” and “a revolutionary group that is interested in some form of socialism, communism.”Calling out racism and anti-Semitism is a responsibilityCalling out racism and anti-Semitism is a responsibilityCalling out racism and anti-Semitism is a responsibilityGOP convention speakers reinforced this anti-racial justice stance. Rudy Giuliani — Trump’s personal lawyer and a former New York mayor — decried an “unprecedented wave of lawlessness” in Democratically-controlled cities such as New York where the mayor, he said, “has often prevented the police from making arrests. And even when arrests are made, liberal, progressive DAs released the rioters so as not to disrupt the rioting.”According to Giuliani, whose tenure as mayor was marked by rampant police brutality,””Black Lives Matter and Antifa sprang into action, and in a flash, they hijacked the peaceful protests into vicious, brutal riots” after the George Floyd killing. The day before a White Trump supporter (judging by social media accounts believed to belong to the young alleged shooter) named Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly killed two people and wounded another following a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, an act that Trump seemed to try to explain away rather than denounce, the RNC highlighted and celebrated racial vigilantism. Patricia and Mark McCloskey — the St. Louis couple who brandished their weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home — stoked the flames of racial division and warned of Democrats’ desires to “abolish the suburbs” and “spreading the chaos and violence into our communities.” Mark McCloskey spoke ill of Black Lives Matter activist and Democratic congressional nominee Cori Bush.”That Marxist revolutionary is now going to be the congresswoman from the first district of Missouri,” he said. “These radicals are not content with marching in the streets. They want to walk the halls of Congress. They want to take over. They want power. This is Joe Biden’s party,” he said, referring to the Democratic presidential candidate. “These are the people who will be in charge of your future and the future of your children.”Trump's a disaster for black voters, but they also need to hold Biden accountableTrump's a disaster for black voters, but they also need to hold Biden accountableTrump's a disaster for black voters, but they also need to hold Biden accountableAlthough Trump’s cabinet, political appointments and his judicial appointments are overwhelmingly White men, a number of faces of color appeared and spoke at the RNC. While some later objected that they had been misrepresented as Trump supporters, others, such as Ben Carson, Trump’s lone Black cabinet member, may have served to carry water for the GOP in an effort to reassure White people that Trump is not a racist.”Many on the other side love to incite division by claiming that President Trump is a racist. They could not be more wrong,” Carson said. “One of the first things he did as president was bring the office of Historically Black Colleges and Universities into the White House so that it could get proper attention and financial support. Before the pandemic, African American unemployment was at an all-time low. President Trump accomplished prison reform.”Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who is Black, criticized Biden for his controversial comments about Black voters, and said, “Republicans will never turn a blind eye to unjust acts, but neither will we accept an all-out assault on Western civilization.” And while he made a reference to Breonna Taylor, he had nothing to say about his own perceived foot-dragging in prosecuting the officers who killed her during a nighttime police raid at her home in Louisville. Former South Carolina governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley — who once said Dylann Roof “hijacked” the Confederate flag from those who saw the flag as a symbol of “service and sacrifice and heritage”– proclaimed it is a lie to say America is a racist country. Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, on the other hand — whom many Republicans seem to regard as a radical leftist, and whom Trump in his misogynoir called a “mad woman” — assailed the President for his “reckless disregard for the well-being of the American people” amid the coronavirus.In a “prebuttal” to Trump’s acceptance speech last Thursday, she defended the racial justice protesters and said they would have a seat at the table in a Biden-Harris administration. “We should not confuse them with those looting and committing acts of violence, including the shooter who was arrested for murder. And make no mistake, we will not let these vigilantes and extremists derail the path to justice,” said Harris. 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Peaceful protest is fundamental to American democracy. Rather than address police violence and systemic racism, the Republicans would criminalize those who speak against injustice and seek fundamental change. People are demanding that Black people are treated as human beings. Trump would change the subject and have everyone believe that peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, the latest incarnation of the Black boogeyman, are the problem. However, with more than 183,000 dead at the hands of the pandemic, tens of millions unemployed and a crisis of racial injustice — along with a White House that is unwilling to solve these issues — those beyond Trump’s base see him for what he is. Lacking humanity, Trump is the problem and a source of what ails the nation. Countless people realize that, which is why this racist election strategy will fail miserably — unless Trump, selling a product a majority of voters refuse to buy, steals the election through voter suppression and shutting down the post office.

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https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/02/opinions/gop-rnc-racism-love/index.html

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