To host RNC or not to? Pluses, implied threats, and confusion

Photo of Atlantic Beach, FL by Indie Art South

My home city of Jacksonville, Florida is being considered to host parts of the Republican National Convention scheduled for August. Naturally, on social media Jaxxers are debating the pros and cons. Some things become evident if you sift through all the social media rhetoric. There are definitely some positives. There are definitely implied threats. There is absolutely a lot of confusion, partly stirred by partisan media. Our entertainment and hospitality industry is hurting right now, and a large event could be beneficial to all.

So should Jacksonville host parts of the convention? Note my use of the word “parts”.

There are definite pluses. Our hotels and restaurants could certainly use the revenue. Our entertainment sector could use it too, and musicians who wanted to provide entertainment would benefit. Musicians who only choose to play for Democrats’ functions can make up their own minds about performing for these events.

Like many other cities, Jax has been under lockdown because of pronouncements from federal government employees and from the often self-contradictory World Health Organization regarding the Coronavirus.

Recently Jacksonville and numerous other cities across the nation hosted large mass gatherings of protests. If you do a brief search, you’ll see many images of those protests in our city and in others.

It was confusing, the lack of alarm from the same federal government employees and organizations like WHO, because no cautions were issued to the protesters. No one worried about transmission of an imported virus. No one marked streets with arrows so that pedestrians walked one way. No one issued requirements for masks in any city. No politician made a speech to aggressively apply social distancing.

That was as it should be, by the way. The First Amendment still stands despite the Supreme Court’s offensive recent decision on religious gatherings. As an aside the swing vote in that case came from an allegedly ‘conservative’ justice appointed by George W. Bush when he was president.

My take on the quarantines rested on freedom of assembly. If you fear contracting the virus, self-quarantine and limit your outside contacts. My family did that due to pending surgery for a loved one. But it’s important to point out that our decision was voluntary.

There is at present a petition begun by a man named Richard Borders. The link embedded in his name at Change.org doesn’t disclose any personal information about the petitioner. I do not know anyone by that name, and I have no information about this individual’s political leanings.

I read the explanation accompanying the petition, and it not only promotes fear, there is a threat of implied violence. This excerpt is verbatim; I chose not to address grammatical and spelling errors:

“The use of city of Jacksonville for the Republican National Convention must be prevented. The damages incurred will take years to recover from. It would out weigh any financial benefits that the city could hope for. It is a fact this convention will bring with it the largest protests in the history of our country. During the recent protests in Jacksonville  there were small riots, violence and destruction of property that occurred. This was a small protest with one view. A convention would attract protesters peaceful and violent from around the world with two opposite intense poltical views. It is a perfect storm for violence and destruction that has no benefit for the residents of Jacksonville.”

What this petition’s hyperbolic rhetoric suggests is that if a party the petitioners oppose chooses to have a gathering here, there will be violence. Why? This makes no sense to me. Freedom of speech is an inherent right of every single American. Attempting to squelch speech is unacceptable. I did not see a petition from Mr. Borders, or from any of the naysayers on social media, to ban protests that might result in violence or transmission of an illness.

St. Johns River North Florida photo by indie art southSince when did “protesters…from around the world” have the right to decide who can have a political gathering in a US city?

Getting to the nitty gritty, media should explain the whole convention will not occur here. Parts of it will still be held in Charlotte, according to an email I received this morning from a GOP outlet: “The business side of the convention and its smaller meetings would still be held in Charlotte, due to a contractual agreement…”

The governor of North Carolina is a Democrat, and he has made it clear that a number of restrictions would be placed on a large gathering if it is held in Charlotte. Considering the bad blood that has long existed between the US’ two political parties, predating the current administration, it is easy to see why Charlotte wouldn’t exactly be accommodating to Republicans.

Take a look at photos of the recent protests in Charlotte. Why didn’t the governor enforce social distancing, masks, and other measures during these shoulder-to-shoulder demonstrations?

Right now states are climbing out of an economic abyss sparked by an imported virus. Small businesses continue to struggle in the aftermath. The indie music, entertainment, and hospitality sectors have been devastated.

I believe Jacksonville can accommodate the parts of the convention that would be held here. I believe having those events here would help our small business community.

Above all, I do not believe a double standard should be a standard when it comes to the First Amendment. Without that amendment, all others are lost.

(Kay B. Day/June 10, 2020)

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