As the Democratic Party moved to nominate Joe Biden, viewers watching at home were somewhat distracted, infatuated with Rhode Island’s calamari-wielding “ninja” and a bizarre “hostage-taking” scene in American Samoa.
The party’s national convention pushed into its second night on Tuesday, seeing Biden officially elevated as the Democrats’ 2020 presidential candidate alongside running mate Kamala Harris. During the roll call vote prior to the nomination, however, spectators couldn’t help notice that delegates in American Samoa, a US territory, were flanked by a pair of uniformed soldiers, giving the appearance that they had been taken captive.
Throwing off “disturbing” vibes, the scene was a “perfect picture to describe US imperialism,” some netizens observed, perhaps referring to the fact that parts of the territory were first annexed by American decree, seeing the US Navy take possession of wide swaths of its largest island before fully colonizing in 1900.
Yeah this is the perfect picture to describe US Imperialism: a hostage situation for the people of American Samoa https://t.co/DRMeuFrPyZ
— Black Belt in Procrastination🇰🇪 (@Jkiboi7) August 19, 2020
“I can empathize with why people would feel pride in their service. But that doesn’t negate the legacy of how/why American Samoa is a US territory in the first place,”said one netizen.
The faux ‘hostage situation’ may also spell trouble in more serious ways, as internal Pentagon regulations prohibit active duty soldiers from appearing in uniform in association with “any partisan political campaign.” Moreover, the Democratic Party’s own 2020 platform states that it will “never use active duty soldiers as political props,” though it isn’t clear whether the roll call appearance would violate that party guideline.
Rhode Island’s delegate also made a major splash during the nomination, appearing alongside a man in black chef’s garb carrying a platter of seafood – who the internet quickly christened the “calamari ninja.”
Rhode Island casts 25 pieces of Calamari served by a ninja to Bernie Sanders, and 32 pieces for the next president of the US, Joe Biden. pic.twitter.com/cAFqzq6fSD
— Adam W Gaffney (@awgaffney) August 19, 2020
The allure of the silent squid-bearer was simply irresistible for some netizens, drawing even the apolitical to tune in to the lengthy roll call proceeding.
“So Rhode Island man and his calamari had me look up the roll call vote…which is not something I would have ever thought I would have done? Now I cannot look away from it,” one enthralled commenter said.
Whether the gesture had the intended political effect – whatever that may have been – it was “overwhelmingly” successful in whetting appetites around the country. Perhaps that was the goal after all.
I will absolutely be eating calamari within the next week because of this. This presentation was an overwhelming success.
— Matthew Morettini (@BirdEditorial) August 19, 2020
Anyone else been really hungry for the last hour since the Rhode Island chef was holding that plate of fried calamari during the DNC roll call? pic.twitter.com/vJk9LBFmfL
— Evan Kidd (@MrEvanKidd) August 19, 2020
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