In Trump’s America, Violent Men Assault Women On The Street. They Are The Law.
When John Lewis died, conservatives across the nation seized the opportunity to distinguish between “good" protesters (most of whom are conveniently dead now) and the “bad" protesters in Portland and Seattle, where graffiti is sprayed on walls and innocent fences are assaulted. Lewis seemingly participated in the “good" protests, but cops beat the crap out of the brother anyway — even fracturing his skull. Maybe the cops thought a building was in jeopardy or maybe it's all just bullshit and the cops will aways find a reason to bust heads. It's why they're cops or whatever you want to call Trump's federal goose-steppers.
Residents of civilized nations are appalled by the violent response to citizens exercising their First Amendment rights, and they were already appalled by the government's craptastic response to COVID-19. America doubled down on disappointing its allies this year.
In France, Le Monde published an editorial in June stating that “in avoiding any expression of empathy for the victims of the injustice, and in refraining from speaking about the root of the problem and only highlighting the violence of rioters, [Trump] has remained faithful to the tactic he's used since his rise to power: division and confrontation."
London's Financial Times wrote that "Mr Trump is trying to craft a divisive narrative of random, violent protesters at war with good cops ... Americans should not buy it. […] The only way to end the [racial injustice in the U.S.] will be to acknowledge that race and economic inequality are profoundly connected."
Mexico's La Jornada probably put it best: "The U.S. seems to be on the edge of an abyss with incalculable consequences for its own population, but also for the rest of the world. And it doesn't seem likely that the insanity reigning in the White House will contribute to avoiding a catastrophe."
Not only has Trump's rhetoric not changed, but he's followed through with violent action, literately invading America's own cities. The cops and Trump's goon squad declare almost any protest an “illegal riot" because of the often unrelated actions of a few. Indiscriminate violence swiftly occurs, and unarmed, nonviolent civilians are teargassed, shot with rubber bullets, or just beaten senseless.
Berlin-based news agency Ruptly tweeted this disturbing video from Portland. We should feel ashamed if Americans truly possessed the humility necessary for shame.
Violent clashes erupt between protesters and federal agents in #Portland #USA FULL VIDEO: https://t.co/Hnee0U38m1 https://t.co/sFTUv7oziU— Ruptly (@Ruptly)1595872800.0
The video elicited the usual chorus of “this isn't my America!" from white liberals, but it's obviously our America. It's like assuming someone snuck into your house late at night and replaced all your jeans with ones that no longer fit. We've all just been “Punk'd" with a fascist America!
Professor Maureen Healy is the chair of the history department at Lewis & Clark College in Portland. She teaches Mo… https://t.co/7kMCqlyAvB— Winston Smith (@Winston Smith)1595697830.0
But these are common American law enforcement tactics. And if white liberals actually spoke with their cop relatives instead of posting videos of them playing pick-up hoops with neighborhood kids, they'd have to face the grim reality that cops will always justify this degree of force. The good ones might not say “she was askin' for it," but they will say this was for her “own safety." If only she'd stop screaming, she'd realize this was all for her own safety. The distinction between “good" and “bad" cops, if there is such, is one of “tone," not tactics.
Conservatives marginalized the poor and desperate in Ferguson, and they have no problem declaring middle-aged moms and history professors as violent agitators, despite all logic. This is the shameless propaganda and too many people are falling for it.
I had no idea John Lewis entrusted his legacy to former senator claire mccaskill https://t.co/cizMWOriC2— Maybe: Lauren Ashley Smith (@Maybe: Lauren Ashley Smith)1595910912.0
Conservatives and moderates today who suggest ways that protesters could avoid a Rodney King beatdown and really get under Trump's thin skin miss the larger point that Trump and law enforcement would find some reason to assault the “mob." On Bloody Sunday, John Lewis and Hosea Williams were told that their march was illegal.
"It would be detrimental to your safety to continue this march," Major John Cloud called out from his bullhorn. "This is an unlawful assembly. You have to disperse, you are ordered to disperse. Go home or go to your church. This march will not continue."
Trump has obviously escalated and provoked further violence, which was his intent all along. Attorney General Bill Barr, who is also trash, has enabled him. It's frustrating when modern conservatives and moderates act as if random acts of violence can damage an otherwise peaceful movement. It's especially galling considering police come down with PTSD when anyone criticizes the murderous actions of their uniformed brethren.
The Civil Rights Movement was not completely peaceful because it involved human beings who we shouldn't expect to smile and accept systemic racism and brutality. When riots broke out in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, President John F. Kennedy sent in federal troops. Unlike Trump, he'd actually read the Constitution so was concerned about setting a precedent of “routine military interventions" but he assumed Southern whites wouldn't protest too much because "the people who've gotten out of hand are not the white people, but the Negroes by and large."
Malcolm X on JFK and Birmingham Riots www.youtube.com
What must other countries think of us? They probably think we're the country that elected Donald Trump in the first place.
Stephen Robinson on Twitter.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."