Foreign Policy magazine comes out with a shrieking Gloom-‘n-Doom piece, A Moment of National Shame and Peril—and Hope subtitled “We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of American democracy, but there is still a way to stop the descent.”
What has so frightened author John Allen, “president of the Brookings Institution, a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general, and former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan”?
The slide of the United States into illiberalism may well have begun on June 1, 2020. Remember the date. It may well signal the beginning of the end of the American experiment.
The president of the United States stood in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday, railed against weak governors and mayors who were not doing enough, in his mind, to control the unrest and the rioters in their cities, and threatened to deploy the U.S. military against American citizens. It was a stunning moment. But, in particular, it was notable for three important reasons.
First, Donald Trump expressed only the barest of condolences at the murder of George Floyd, but he also said nothing about the fundamental and underlying reasons for the unrest: systemic racism and inequality, a historic absence of respect, and a denial of justice. All of these factors are centuries old and deeply engrained in an American society that systematically delivers white privilege at the expense of people of color.
Yes, he mentioned George Floyd, but he did not touch on long-standing societal problems at all. He sees the crisis as a black problem—not as something to be addressed by creating the basis and impetus for a move toward social justice, but as an opportunity to use force to portray himself as a “law and order” president. The reasons were irrelevant to the opportunity. Remember the supposed invasion of the southern border and his deployment of federal troops ahead of the 2018 midterm elections? The president’s failure to understand the reality of the problem was on full display when, on Saturday, he attempted to explain that his supporters, the so-called Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement, “love African American people. They love black people. MAGA loves the black people.” Evidently his movement, MAGA, is a coherent thing, and it’s white, which leads to the next point about his speech.
Second, Trump was clear he views those engaged in the unrest and criminal acts in these riots as terrorists, an enemy. He said so, ostensibly as justification to deploy the U.S. military to apply federal force—his “personal” force—against the riots.
I’ll admit, I was initially wary of the invocation of the Insurrection Act, until I discovered that, although passed in 1807 it has been used by several Presidents, mostly Democrats, since passage. An incomplete list:
Rutherford B. Hayes (R), October, 1878 — to suppress the Lincoln County War
Grover Cleveland (D), July, 1894 — the Pullman Strike (look into that one.)
Woodrow Wilson (D), April, 1914 — the Colorado Coalfield War
Herbert Hoover (R), July 1932 — the Bonus Marchers in D.C. (definitely look into that one)
Franklin D. Roosevelt (D), July, 1943 (while the military was already quite busy with other things) — the Detroit race riot. Hmm, sound familiar?
Dwight D. Eisenhower (R), September, 1957 — Protecting the Little Rock Nine
John F. Kennedy (D) – twice: September 1962, and September 1963 — the first for The Battle of Oxford, the second to enforce desegregation of Alabama public schools.
Lyndon B. Johnson (D) – FOUR TIMES: July, 1967 — ’67 Detroit Riot, April, 1968 — Washington DC riots, April 1968 — Baltimore riots, April 1968 — Chicago riots. 1968 was a year of widespread riots. Sound familiar?
George H.W. Bush (R) – twice: September 1989, Saint Croix, Virgin Islands in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, May, 1982 — the Rodney King riots in LA.
I had to go look these up, because no major media outlet bothered to inform me. For them, history started yesterday.
As far as MAGA being a white thing? Look here. If the media won’t tell you about how the Insurrection Act has been used in the past, what makes you think they’ll admit that not all black people live on their plantation?
General Allen (Ret.) further states:
Finally, the governors have sufficient law enforcement capacity—and, if necessary, the combat power of the National Guard—to handle their respective crises. If not, they can ask for federal assistance. There is no precedent in modern U.S. history for a president to wield federal troops in a state or municipality over the objections of the respective governor.
Neither Eisenhower nor Kennedy got the permission of the governors involved. Those governors were quite happy with the status quo. “No precedent in modern U.S. history”? Pull my other leg. And the gist of the phone conversation Trump had with the various governors was “You have all the law enforcement capacity you need – use it, or I’ll send in troops who will.” Seems it worked.
FUCK I’m tired of this shit.