Brow Beat

It Was a Very Bad Week

Donald Trump, in a blue jacket and red USA cap, stands in front of rows of National Guardsmen wearing camouflage, sunglasses, and masks. Trump is giving two thumbs up.
Who’s got two thumbs and is leading his nation to wrack and ruin? Roberto Schmidt/Getty Images

Back in 2013, Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post noticed a curious pattern: A disproportionate number of historical disasters seem to have happened during the third week of April. The death of Abraham Lincoln, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the sinking of the Titanic, the West Fertilizer Company explosion, the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine, the Boston Marathon bombing, and even the death of Prince all took place during the same cursed seven-day stretch. But as horrible as these events were, at least they didn’t all happen in the same year. Here are just a few of the things that have happened in the last seven days.

On Sunday—as fires raged across California—Kenosha, Wisconsin, police Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, seven times in the back at point-blank range in front of his children. The shooting happened on camera, and video of Blake being shot immediately went viral. That same day, the Republican Party reiterated that it would not bother to publish a platform this year, other than a promise to continue “enthusiastically supporting the President’s America-first agenda.”

On Monday, the Republican National Convention kicked off a concerted effort to make Donald Trump seem empathetic, a daunting task that was made even more difficult when Trump showed up to give a rambling 50-minute pre-address about his many grievances. In a night filled with lies, Kimberly Guilfoyle broke through the noise by making the most noise:

That same night, police attacked protesters in Kenosha with tear gas and pepper spray, protesters smashed storefronts and set fires, and the governor called in the National Guard.

On Tuesday, the RNC celebrated lawlessness, handing the microphone to Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who became famous (and drew felony charges) when they wildly brandished guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their mansion. Meanwhile, Trump, joined by Chad Wolf, the man who is illegally serving as acting secretary of homeland security, used a naturalization ceremony as a convention prop, and Mike Pompeo violated his own ethics guidelines by giving a political speech on an official State Department trip. That night, a 17-year-old Trump supporter, Kyle Rittenhouse, traveled to Kenosha with an AR-15 and shot three protesters, killing two of them.

On Wednesday, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis described Rittenhouse with euphemisms usually reserved for police officers, while blaming the protesters Rittenhouse killed for their own deaths. As the RNC continued gaslighting the nation, conservative media, led by Tucker Carlson, began valorizing Rittenhouse and vigilante justice in general. Finally, CNN reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its COVID-19 testing guidelines under political pressure from the White House.

Thursday started as Hurricane Laura made landfall, devastating the Gulf Coast, and ended with the final night of the RNC, or, as Fred Kaplan put it, “a volcano of lies.” (That volcano erupted on the South Lawn of the White House, producing some of the tackiest and most disgraceful images of the Trump presidency so far.) Somewhere between these two shitty bookends, news broke that Jacob Blake had been handcuffed to his hospital bed by police, who would not say what charges he was facing, despite the fact that had been paralyzed from the waist down. (After a public outcry, the police removed his handcuffs.)

The south lawn of the White House, filled with people overshadowed by a giant Trump Pence sign.
Spectacular! Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Friday, Chadwick Boseman died. On Saturday, news broke that a Republican student group was raising money for Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal defense. While all of this was going on, thousands more Americans died of COVID-19, the pandemic that the president utterly failed to suppress.

In short, it was a miserable, wretched, soul-suckingly terrible week in America. What’s more, almost all of the horrible things that happened, from yet another viral video of a white police officer casually shooting a Black man to the death of Chadwick Boseman, disproportionately affected Black people. It would be foolhardy to try to guess what sorts of unbelievably awful catastrophes will befall us next week, but there’s reason to hope that things will be at least a little bit better. One reason in particular: They can’t hold the Republican National Convention twice.