Trump Gives Oregon Two Days To Clear Out Imaginary 'Beehive Of Terrorists', Or It Gets The Hose Again
In the last 25 years, anti-fascists have been linked to exactly zero murders.
In the last 25 years, 329 people have been killed in acts of rightwing violence.
So for those keeping score at home, the current tally is 0-329, with 329 representing 329 more murders than zero.
Just to be clear.
Yesterday, during a press conference, Donald Trump announced that the withdrawal of federal troops from the city of Portland that had been negotiated between Governor Kate Brown and Vice President Mike Pence earlier this week was merely conditional. That the city and state police had 48 hours to "clear out" what he referred to as a "beehive of terrorists." This will be difficult, as the only people in the whole entire country who have actually been arrested on charges of terrorism related to the protests are the three right-wing Boogaloo bois, all former military, who had been hoping to exploit the protests for the purpose of inciting a race war. (One of whom also allegedly exploited his stepdaughter.)
You can't "clear out" imaginary terrorists.
In his statement, Trump praised the federal troops for their daring rescue of a building, the federal courthouse in Portland, which was in danger of being grafittied to death, and claimed that everyone — reporters, government officials, actual residents of Portland — was collectively lying about it being a protest "as opposed to anarchists and agitators."
So our people have done — Homeland Security have done a fantastic job. They went to Oregon a little more than a week ago. The place was a mess. The city, Portland, was just a disaster. You see it, and a lot of people weren't reporting it right. They tried to pretend it was a protest, as opposed to anarchists and agitators. You understand what I'm saying. It's a mess.
They went there a short while ago, and they saved a federal courthouse that costs hundreds of millions of dollars. And they put a ring around the courthouse and they saved it. But the group that's there is basically meant to save buildings, and they were very strong, very powerful. And they didn't come out too often out of this cocoon that they built in order to save these very expensive, valuable, and psychologically important buildings — right? — like courthouses.
My first question, honestly, is Why would a courthouse cost hundreds of millions of dollars? That is actually just horrifying. Imagine bragging about something like that in a country where not everyone has health care or food, and at a time when the unemployment rates are higher than ever. "Oh hey! We spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a freaking courthouse! Isn't that great! And now we're spending even more money to protect it from graffiti, but extending unemployment benefits? Ooh! Don't think we can swing that one! We hate wasteful government spending!"
Trump then explained that the elected officials in charge of things don't know what they're doing, and then had the gall to whine that he shouldn't have "had" to "go in and clean out the cities" — a thing that absolutely no one there wanted him to do, and which he was really only doing because it appealed more to his base than dealing with the pandemic would:
The governor and the mayor, we've been dealing with them, and we think they don't know what they're doing, because this should not have been going on for 60 days. It's not our job unless, in case of emergency — which I consider now to be an emergency — it's not our job to go in and clean out the cities. That's supposed to be done by local law enforcement.
Yesterday, the governor worked a deal where they'll do it; we'll stand by, they'll do it — and that's good. That was very good, but she didn't report it that way. What she reported was totally different. She said, "I think Trump wants to take over the country." It's crazy.
It's not crazy if it's true!
The gist of all of this is that Trump desperately wants protesters who don't like him to be taken as more of a "threat" than they actually are, because he thinks this will make him look good. It's not about protecting courthouses or saving the city of Portland, it is about painting those who oppose him as terrorists. He also likes that it is a distraction from the far more pressing concern of a virus that is actually killing people.
After that, he got back on the "anarchists and outside agitators" train, because he definitely knows what anarchism is:
So what happened is our people are staying there to see whether or not they can do it today and tomorrow. And if they don't do it, we will send in the National Guard and we'll take care of it. And we're telling, right now, these protesters — and many should be arrested because these are professional agitators, these are professional anarchists; these are people that hate our country. We're telling them, right now, that we're coming in very soon — the National Guard. A lot of people. A lot of very tough people. And these are not people that just have to guard the courthouse and save it. These are people that are allowed to go forward and do what they have to do. And I think that makes the governor's job and the mayor's job a lot easier.
The only person I can think of who could possibly qualify as a "professional anarchist" right now is Noam Chomsky, and I don't think he's a real big physical threat. No one needs the National Guard to take down Noam Chomsky.
Of course, Trump has a tendency — whether purposeful or not — to breathe new life into early 20th century paranoias that once seemed like things we'd only ever read about in history books. It starts with "America First!" and ends with freaking out about anarchists and demanding Palmer raids on the city of Portland.
What Trump is trying to do here is to downplay the legitimate anger of people who are sick and tired of police brutality, who are sick and tired of the status quo, and replace it with an illegitimate anger brought on only because of fires being stoked by nefarious agitators, who are only stoking those fires because they are being paid to do so. Probably by George Soros.
So they're working today and probably tomorrow to clean out this beehive of — of terrorists. And if they do it, I'm going to be very happy. And then, slowly, we can start to leave the city. If they don't do it, we'll be sending in the National Guard.
Beehive of terrorists.
It says a whole lot about Trump that his main priority right now is attacking a protest in Portland and that he so desperately wants to send the National Guard in to handle it. He didn't want to offer any federal help to areas that didn't have enough COVID-19 tests, he ignored governors who begged him for federal help to deal with that. He cares more about the welfare of an absurdly expensive courthouse than he does about American lives, he cares more about diminishing the seriousness of those who oppose him than he does about American lives.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse