Terry H. Schwadron
Aug. 31, 2020
If Donald Trump thinks dropping in on Kenosha, WI, tomorrow is a good way to calm the waters roiled by racially tinged protest and violent counter-protest, I’ve got a bridge to sell him.
Of course, he does not think so. He just is using the event as a prop again, this time standing up law enforcement in Kenosha as a backdrop to an outwardly partisan call to float his Law & Order slogans.
If Trump actually meant what he shouts, he would be acting, using whatever paramilitary forces might marshal to patrol streets where local officials don’t want him, and, in some instances, have already deployed state Guardsmen, obviating the need for Trump to act.
Better, Trump might start by demanding that right-wing supporters — exactly the sort that he accuses leftists of organizing from out of community, even out of state to come in with weaponry bristling — to stand down. If he were serious, Trump might actually invite some Black Lives Matter representatives to meet with him and hear why a select few turn protests violent overnight.
Please, Trump campaign, recognize what witnesses report: The violent acts are drawing right-wing vigilantes and white supremacist groups along with “leftist anarchists” who Trump sees as “organized and well-funded” — somehow the opposite of anarchy.
As in Portland, Donald Trump’s biggest largesse to Law & Order is his mouth, because deploying federal agents, which even his Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf now says is inappropriate, merely served to enflame the small group that gathered after 1 a.m. on a single block of Portland to light fires and act like jerks.
The single thing that Donald Trump may succeed at in this downward-spiraling race to more violence is drawing Joe Biden to be more forthright in condemnation of violence on all sides, and of Trump’s fear-mongering. Biden started yesterday, late, with a strong statement that Team Trump will dismiss, but have to acknowledge, that trashes violence on all sides.
Please, Biden campaign, don’t be polite while violence of any sort draws off voter support because of perceived quiet from you.
Trump is good at this game — better than you. He could ride this fear campaign to a repeat win, divided polling is starting to tell us, at least narrowing Biden’s lead. If Trump wins this election because you are perceived as being unequal to denouncing violence, we’ll have much bigger problems than a few street fires for which businesses can collect insurance.
The Trump message has gotten closer and closer to defending right-wing, rifle-toting vigilante groups, all with absolutely no solutions or even recognition of the issues underlying protests. Trump and supporters have mixed lawful, peaceful protest with fires in the street — and generalized “looting” with even rock-throwing.
The police in many instances have been turned into observers as the left- and right-inspired decide to get physical.
Trump never got upset when rifle-carrying supporters went to state houses in Michigan and elsewhere to rattle state legislatures over mask-wearing orders and shutdowns. Trump has not spoken a word against a 17-year-old crossing state lines to Kenosha with a rifle that he used and now faces murder charges for having used to kill protesters. In his public remarks, Trump is moving us towards a civil war over race relations — and then blaming “Joe Biden’s America.”
It’s Donald Trump’s America, and Trump is showing he’s got mouth, but no game for his slogans. If he’s not going to do it, he should sit down. If he is going to send troops out, he should be prepared to be impeached.
Biden is telling us that Trump is making it all worse, inciting violence. Frankly, it’s not enough.
Meanwhile, mayors and governors are trying to keep actual violence contained, despite nightly protests-turned-ugly without worsening the situation with armed National Guardsmen.
But why is the violence still going on if these all-powerful, only-I-can-fix-it would-be leaders are saying it should stop?
It’s curious to me that Trump is silent these days about the repressive attempts to shut down protests in places like Belarus and Hong Kong, but willing to deploy troop to the streets of Kenosha and Portland.
Black leaders, white leaders, business leaders, church leaders, parents and voters should be helping police by leaning on those who think rocks and rifles are the right answer here to stop and think about the consequences beyond tonight’s showdown with their foes.
At a minimum, the answers here demand actual attention to the underlying events and causes, serious discussion about policing methods, prosecutor procedures, police union protections.
Trump’s job is to make us safe not by force but by solution. Biden’s job is to show the kind of leadership he will need in office, should he get there. Our job is to make race a real and meaningful discussion to replace nonsense about violence.