The theme at the virtual Republican National Convention Wednesday undoubtedly had been planned for weeks, but it was a shame violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, provided a backdrop on why that theme centered on supporting law enforcement, military and other American heroes.
The violence in the Wisconsin city followed a recent police-involved shooting of a Black suspect and — though all the facts aren't in — has been portrayed as another undeserved injury of a person of color by law enforcement.
It was Julia Jackson, though, the mother of Kenosha suspect Jacob Blake, who — while not a speaker at the convention — had the passionate wherewithal to speak sense where there has been too little in wake of the violence that has rocked the country since the May death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
"Please, don't burn up property and cause havoc, and tear your homes down, in my son's name," she said.
People understand peaceful protests and share sympathy with the families of those who are the victims of excessive force at the hands of police, but they will never comprehend looting, rioting, burning and ruining someone's livelihood in response. And they're not clear why Democrats seem to support such violence and any efforts to halt it.
We believe many Americans also share Jackson's understanding about President Donald Trump, who in no way is responsible for individual law enforcement officers, the use of excessive force or the violence perpetrated in the name of those who have been injured by police or lost their lives.
The president apparently had tried to call her in wake of the incident.
"I'm sorry I missed your call," Jackson said. "... I'm not mad at you at all. I have the utmost respect for you as the leader of our country."
A member of her family who is "hurting," she said, had said something "not kind" about Trump.
"I do apologize for that outburst," Jackson said. "That does not reflect our behavior."
Like Blake's mother, most Americans don't blame Trump. In fact, they see him decrying the violence, offering to send in troops, wanting to diffuse the situation.
In Wisconsin, for instance, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers initially refused to send in more than 10% to 20% of the National Guardsmen the president offered and are needed to quell those exacerbating the situation, including those shouting "Kill the police" and "Death to America."
However, other Democrats and their media partners tried to — again — blame the violence on Trump.
Failed Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, for instance, assigned the fault to the president because he is in office.
"[T]he simple reality is that we are seeing more and more chaos and violence under the Trump presidency and there's no reason we would expect that it would get any different or any better if he were re-elected," he said.
With an explanation like that, it's no wonder Buttigieg is just another citizen of Indiana today.
And in a widely mocked CNN image, correspondent Omar Jimenez stood in front of a raging fire that had been set in Kenosha, but the wording across the bottom of the screen said, "Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Protests After Police Shooting."
We suspect the desire to return to a peaceful existence is what drove undecided voters in Kenosha to tell The New York Times this week that "the chaos in their city and the inability of [Democratic] elected leaders to stop it were currently nudging them toward the Republicans."
One of those leaders, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, was the source left-leaning MSNBC turned to the other night to counter South Dakota's Gov. Kristi Noem's contention that Democrat-controlled cities were "being overrun by violent mobs."
Indeed, they turned to a Democratic mayor, who allowed a six-block chunk of her city's Capitol Hill neighborhood to be seized for weeks by anarchists and did not move to take control until two people had been murdered and six shot, to "fact-check" the speaker.
That little incident, Durkan previously told CNN, was "more like a block party."
So, unintentionally, the re-escalating violence in Democrat-controlled cities provided the perfect backdrop for Republicans' law-and-order theme.
"Last week [Democrat nominee] Joe Biden didn't say one word about the violence and chaos engulfing cities across this country," Vice President Mike Pence said in his address. "Let me be clear: The violence must stop — whether in Minneapolis, Portland, or Kenosha. Too many heroes have died defending our freedoms to see Americans strike each other down."
Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn said in a brief speech that such heroes "don't fit into [the Democrats'] narrative" and that, regrettably, they "try to turn them into villains."
Instead, she said, "law enforcement officers put their lives on their line every single day to keep our communities safe in spite of the hatred thrown at them."
Are our first defenders heroes or villains? The parties seem to have staked out their sides. Now Americans will have to decide.