The week was drawing to a close when the news took a turn to the grotesque.
As he spoke to police officers and sheriffs on Long Island Friday, the President was suddenly talking all about blood.
“Cartels and criminals are preying on our citizens,” said the president, then something about healthcare, then back again to blood. Bloodshed, blood and burning, and something about people stuffed in barrels, and kidnappings and not being nice.
I should clarify. I do try to watch the president as often as I can. He’s the president, after all, even if he sometimes turns your stomach.
From blood, the president went off on a riff about disrespect for the rule of law, and murder, and butchery and beatings. I was glad there were no children in the room, and frankly, I began to lose track. He mentioned knives and stabbings and peaceful neighborhoods transformed into bloodsoaked killing fields…
“We can not tolerate the spilling of innocent young vibrant people, “ I think he meant blood. “We can not accept this violence one day more. We can’t and we won’t.”
“Just look at what’s going on,” said the president.
I did my best to remember where else I’d heard about so much blood.
Where else had I been hearing about blood and beatings and even burning, no, especially burning…? Tranquil neighborhoods, set alight.
Venezuela of course. Also Molotov cocktails and bombs fired at factories, and food distribution centers, and public transportation and public health clinics.
Venezuela’s government has its critics on the Left, but it’s the violent, US backed ones on the Right that have burnt people alive. They’ve assassinated politicians they consider socialist. This June 12, they burned the Supreme Court. In May they tear gassed and laid siege to a maternity hospital packed with just born babies.
Trump’s grim catalogue of death brought it all back, especially the news footage of a black man, yelled at, then stabbed and beaten and doused with gasoline and set alight by an anti-government mob. 21 year old Orlando Figueroa, a Venezuelan parking attendant died from his burns.
Innocent, young, vibrant, as the president would say, “spilled.” And there was more of it this week as in spite of it all, millions of Venezuelans turned out to vote. What’s going on? The violent overthrow of a government and a movement, the US has opposed for since its start? In the case of Venezuela -- President Trump’s on the side of the mob, not the government. The burners, not the burnt. Still he’s asking the right questions: Look around. What’s going on? And are we going to tolerate it?