Washington Post

‘RACE AND VIOLENCE IN OUR CITIES’? A TOPIC FOR THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE DRAWS CRITICISM. The topics for the first presidential debate focus on issues that have dominated the news throughout 2020 — the economy, the coronavirus pandemic and the records of the two leading contenders. But the framing of one of the debate topics has set off alarms and objections.

“Race and Violence in Our Cities” — the title of one of the segments announced by moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News on Tuesday — seems to echo President Trump’s contentious characterization of the protests that have swept American cities this summer and gives a false sense of the issue, critics say.

Instead of alluding to the concerns about racial justice and police brutality that inspired the protests, liberal commentators and advocacy groups complained the phrasing suggests Trump’s framing of Black Lives Matter as an inherently violent movement.

Trump has made “law and order” a campaign catchphrase and has repeatedly sought to tie looting and violence that occurred during organized protest marches to Joe Biden and Democrats. At the same time, Trump has tried to appeal to what he often refers to as “suburban” voters by claiming that they are at risk if he isn’t reelected. “If I don’t win, America’s Suburbs will be OVERRUN with Low Income Projects, Anarchists, Agitators, Looters and, of course, ‘Friendly Protesters,’ ” he tweeted on Sept. 10. …

Hence, “Race and Violence in Our Cities,” in the view of many liberal critics, suggests that the primary issue surrounding the protests this summer is violence — not justice, as its supporters say — and that it is explicitly race-based and urban-centered. It also shifts the focus away from the cause of the protests themselves: The use of deadly force by police against African Americans, and racial inequities in general.

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