Florida's shame, Matt Gaetz, has little to offer society on his best day, so it wasn't a shock that the Republican congressman was completely useless during Wednesday's House Judiciary Committee hearing on police reform.

California Rep. Eric Swalwell, rocking the hunky beard, asked if any Republican could say those three little words: “Black Lives Matter," which would recognize that they're addressing a specific issue and not composing a bubblegum pop song. “All Lives Matter! Yeah, yeah, yeah!"

Gaetz just couldn't do it, and Swalwell kept shaking his well-groomed head.

GAETZ: Unequivocally, all lives matter. Why is that a problem to acknowledge?

It's a problem for the same reason “All women have nice faces" isn't a great wedding vow. Technically, your fiancee's face is included in the general statement, but it doesn't make her feel special. C'mon, her grandmother got a day pass from the assisted living facility to watch this.


Gaetz is obviously lying because after 11 hours, the police reform legislation advanced from committee on party lines. When Republicans say “All Lives Matter," what they actually believe is that some lives matter more than others.

On some level, Republicans understand that George Floyd's public execution marked a major change and would require more than just reminding Black people about gang members in Chicago or observing that Abraham Lincoln was also a (very different) Republican. What they don't appreciate is that Black people are done hiding our anger and frustration. By the end of the day, Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, who's Black, just tore into his Republican “friends."

RICHMOND: I'm absolutely sitting here offended and angry as hell. I want to explain to my ... what we always say when we refer to each other, our good friends on the other side. By the time I'm finished, it'll be clear that we're not good friends.

Damn. Richmond serves notice like the Bride during the intro to Kill Bill: Volume 2. I love that Richmond dispenses with the forced congeniality, which is just a remnant from a time when white men debated their slightly different political views but were still white men. They were all treated equally in the America people who looked like them had created. Richmond calls this out and I'm surprised no one asked for a fainting couch.

RICHMOND: [As] a Black male who went to the fifth best public high school in the country, who was a victim of excessive force, who has a Black son, who has worries that you all don't, and to my colleagues, especially the ones that keep introducing amendments that are a tangent and a distraction from what we're talking about, you all are white males. You've never lived in my shoes, and you do not know what it's like to be an African American male.

It's a bold move for Richmond to suggest that white men aren't experts at everything, even the lived experiences of people who aren't white males. This directly challenges the Merriam-Webster definition of “white male." Let's hope Richmond has Power Point slides to back this up.

RICHMOND: I'm saying is if you are opposed to this legislation, let's just have the vote, but please do not come in this committee room and make a mockery of the pain that exists in my community.

Yeah, guys, don't be common Rand Pauls.

Describing the current situation as a "crisis" where people are losing their lives (fact check: true), Richmond rejected a "watered-down" show bill that "mandates nothing." He was especially pissed about pointless sideshow amendments Republicans offered, including an investigation into antifa. Antifa didn't break a black woman's collarbone or partially blind a journalist.

RICHMOND: I'm not interested in studying antifa. I'm not even interested in studying the Klan or sovereign citizens right now, because that is not the imminent threat that Black men face on a daily basis, and right now, too often, it is law enforcement — those who were sworn to protect and to serve. And so all we're asking today is to deal with that.

Richmond wanted to make how he felt "crystal clear," because he's fair-minded enough to give Republicans the benefit of their total racial ignorance. Maybe they weren't deliberately stalling the bill. But Gaetz went and spoiled it all by saying something stupid like, "How do you know my kids aren't black?" No, really.

GAETZ: I appreciate your passion. Are you suggesting that you're certain that none of us have non-white children? Because you reflect on your Black son, and you said none of us could understand.

C'mon, if Gaetz or any other Republican at this hearing had a Black kid, they would've installed them in the Mark Meadows Memorial Black Friend Prop Corner. Richmond immediately reclaimed his time from Gaetz's dumb ass.

RICHMOND: Matt, Matt. Stop. I'm not about to get sidetracked about the color of our children. ... It is not about the color of your kids. It is about Black males, Black people in the streets that are getting killed, and if one of them happens to be your kid, I'm concerned about him, too, and clearly, I'm more concerned about him than you are.

This enraged Gaetz, who believed that Richmond had insulted his imaginary “non-white" child. First place, I don't know how many times we have to say this, but Black isn't simply “non-white." That's like a grocery store aisle that's classified as mayonnaise and “non-white condiments."

Gaetz, naturally, went full Karen, making this all about his own hurt fee-fees. Maybe he'll report Richmond to HR for making him feel "uncomfortable."

GAETZ: You're claiming you have more concern for my family than I do. Who in the hell do you think you are? ... You should take those words down. I know you care about your family and love your family, so do we, damn it.

Thursday morning, Gaetz “revealed" his “non-white son" on Twitter, because your “children" are the ultimate “gotcha." That's not exploitative at all. Also, is there anything more depressingly racist than “He came from Cuba (legally, of course)"? No one deserves a “father" who feels the need to constantly confirm you're not “illegal" or otherwise embarrassing to him.



I'll grant that Gaetz probably cares about the family that puts up with him, but really, who cares? They're not the issue here. Black people have cop cancer, and fools like Gaetz are holding up the chemo so they can whine about their hangnails. Enough already.

[The Hill]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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