The state of the Republican Party can be summed up by the glaring contrast between its convention and the conduct of professional athletes on Wednesday who refused to ignore the shooting of yet another Black man, Jacob Blake, coupled with the arrest of an alleged White shooter who killed two people during demonstrations in Kenosha, Wis.

President Trump did not reach out to Blake’s family nor denounce the killings during the protests, allegedly by a 17-year-old who attended a Trump rally and reveled in the Blue Lives Matter rhetoric Trump hypes. Trump denounces only protesters, then lies to say Democratic nominee Joe Biden wants to defund the police and destroy the suburbs (meaning allow integration). Republicans have repeated the false and scurrilous charge for three nights that Democrats indulge violence and are anti-police. They bring out to talk to the country a couple that allegedly threatened Black Lives Matter protesters with weapons. That is the Republicans’ idea of law and order.

Meanwhile, The Post reports that “the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for a playoff game against the Orlando Magic to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.” All three NBA playoff games were rescheduled. “In Milwaukee, the Brewers announced they would not play their game Wednesday night against the Cincinnati Reds. The Seattle Mariners’ game against the San Diego Padres [was] also postponed.” Later, the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers announced they would forgo the rest of the season.

The peaceful, dignified action was meant to call attention to what Republicans refuse to acknowledge, namely that systemic racism infects policing and other aspects of American life, putting the lives of certain Americans at extreme risk only because of the color of their skin. In contrast to Republicans’ galling indifference to the continued deaths of Black Americans and their absence of any moral leadership, Biden tweeted:

The GOP has become proficient at denying racism. The Confederate flag, a symbol of the war for slavery, we are told, is not about racism. Statues of traitorous Southern figures erected in the era of Jim Crow to propagate the false narrative of the Lost Cause are not about racism. Police killing of African Americans at a disproportionate rate (“They account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White Americans”) is not about racism; the disproportionate deaths of African Americans due to covid-19 is not about racism. Republicans’ denial of the obvious is not a matter of faulty analysis but of willful ignorance intended to deny White supremacy’s ongoing impact on Black Americans.

The old order — as in Make America Great Again (or as Vice President Pence says, “Make America Great Again, Again” because the president messed up so badly) — they deem as “normal.” The efforts to end White supremacy are deemed aberrant, un-American and dangerous.

No one expressed it better than Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “It’s amazing why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back,” he said, choking back tears. “It’s really so sad. Like, I should just be a coach. I’m so often reminded of my color. It’s just really sad. We got to do better. But we got to demand better.”

It is understandable that while a propaganda show is broadcast to the entire nation, African American athletes and coaches might feel that there is a need to shift attention and return to reality. An entire political party and the incumbent president and his senior officials insist on the insidious fiction that racism is not systematic and endemic in many aspects of life. We should recognize and respect athletes who refuse to let the country indulge in the Trumpian myth, and who insist we pay attention to what is in front of our noses.

Will Americans reject racists’ age-old tactic of denying racism and painting themselves as victims? It is essential if we are to make progress on racial injustice to vote the willful deniers out of office. We must reject their attempt to paint those who refuse to accept injustice as a threat to America. The threat to law and order, to the essence of multiracial democracy and to simple human decency is at the RNC, not in the streets of Kenosha.

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