Trump probably isn’t much worried about the hysterical triangulation against him that has become the norm of our prominent political discourse. But if he were, he’d have his hands full.
Fortunately, most of the people are too sensible to be taken in by the ever-shifting opposition. It’s pretty clear that all the howling about Trump’s plan (video below) to mobilize the military, and monitor the states’ progress at getting the looting and torching shut down, is nothing more than – quite literally – a reflexive anti-Trump reaction. It’s utterly illogical, considering that 24 hours ago Trump was being ridiculed and excoriated for not doing anything to shut the looting and torching down.
Trump is ensuring the necessary force is available to do that, giving the governors their chance to take the lead – and that doesn’t suit the jackal chorus either.
A few recalcitrant governors, as a wag noted on Twitter a short while ago, repudiated the president’s plan on TV in front of burning buildings and rioters rampaging through their streets. That conveys the clear message: “No, no! – it would be wrong for us to cooperate in restoring order.” The thesis seems to be that if there’s no way to restore order without, you know, restoring order – well, we’ll just have to accept the broken glass and leaping flames until it’s all gone.
No culture has ever taken that as an axiom. It’s nihilism to propose that we all get burned up in a conflagration rather than use force to stop the arsonist. Nothing in our Constitution or the idea of consensual government compels us to commit national suicide rather than stop the looting and pillaging of our people’s livelihoods, life’s work, and homely treasures.
Trump was always going to be damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. So: whatever, jackal chorus. You’ve written your epitaph at the grown-ups’ table.
The unseriousness of the jackal chorus was evident in another aspect of the media coverage this evening. It was laughable to observe: suddenly, the scary violent thugs who were reliably thought to be “white nationalists,” and whom Trump was laggard in putting down, became “protesters” again, and it was a terrible thing for Trump to deploy the military against them.
Of course, Trump doesn’t intend to use the military against “protesters” at all. The military may never get near them, in most places. In Philadelphia, according to a Fox reporter, the national guard is already deployed, and it’s standing guard at government facilities – targeted in the last week by rioters – while the police are out in the streets performing the contact role with the people. That’s as it should be.
The military, whether deployed under federal or state authority, may be called on for tasks such as setting barricades on U.S. highways and Interstates, and performing visual reconnaissance with helicopters and drones. Ideally, I would prefer not to see that (and can tell you that service members would much prefer not to have to do it). But the wanton destruction and lawlessness have to stop. They would have to stop even if they were truly a spontaneous manifestation among the people, rather than what they actually are: an incited, aberrant acting-out.
The political left, whether governors, members of Congress, media, or other pundits, has put itself in an absurd position: insisting that nothing acceptable can be done about the current attempt to rend America in two. The left does nothing but state grievances and then furiously oppose any practical plan for ending the mayhem.
It’s amazing to watch: they’re determined not to cooperate with any workable proposal. But instead of taking weeks for the one-note intransigence of their position to be evident, it takes mere hours. And then we’re on to the next episode.
One particular event on Monday evening encapsulated that and related dynamics. It’s actually a very important event. Most of us can guess why it set off such a frenzied reaction: because it’s important. It’s about the basis for law, order, respect, restraint, equality before the law, the purpose of protecting the people’s interests, the meaning of freedom. And Trump chose to do it – insisted on doing it – instead of being deterred by a messy situation.
The event, of course, was his walk across Lafayette Square from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was set on fire Sunday night by rioters. (Sunday 31 May, as Christians know, was Pentecost Sunday. The symbolism of a church being set on fire on that particular day in the liturgical year is worthy of remark.)
The square had to be made safe for this walk, the security precautions no doubt being dictated by the Secret Service. The media reported, many with outrage, that protesters in the square were forced to move out of it so the president could make his excursion on foot. There were reports of tear gas being used; not having been there, I can’t say why that was done, but my default assumption would be that some people were refusing to comply with an order to move.
Trump walked to the church in company with cabinet members and other senior officials. He spent only a few minutes in front of the church. What he did there was hold up a Bible for a minute or so. It was a powerful statement that the core of America’s identity and purpose will not be destroyed by this wave of attacks.
The media have been beside themselves trying to turn this into a “tear gas was used on protesters” story. But the power of the true narrative is much greater. Trump stood for the continuation of America, as America, by holding up the Bible in the sight of God and the world at the church attacked last night.
It’s for the jackal chorus to explain why he should not have done that.
Trump’s action said, loud and clear, that we are not required to let a heckler’s veto prevent us from being America, or from affirming who we are and what we will defend. There is nothing more powerful he could have done to demonstrate that. Of course he is despised by his enemies for it. Of course he is right.