Editorial: Trump’s Law and Order is “Lawlessness and Disorder”

Donald Trump wants to be known as the “law and order president.” From his many abuses of office, to the coronavirus that has raged out of control in the U.S. under his watch, however, “lawlessness and disorder” are the terms that more accurately describe the country during Trump’s tenure in the White House. It doesn’t take a critical thinker to observe that by “law and order,” Trump is specifically referring to crushing the demonstrations against racism that are taking place in “Democrat-led” cities across the U.S., and using force to do so.

Following the May murder by police of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, demonstrators have gathered in cities across the U.S. to protest the police brutality and systemic racism that have led to numerous deaths of unarmed Black Americans. The demonstrations have mainly been nonviolent, but opportunists have shown up to some demonstrations, ready for a good fight or a good looting. Since the beginning of the demonstrations, Trump has conflated these destructive and violent individuals with the peaceful demonstrators associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Following Trump’s lead, his base opposes the demonstrations— even the peaceful ones (which are supported by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution). Trump knows that his base isn’t likely to sort out facts, or care about them. It can’t be denied that they elected him, based at least in part, on his racist, xenophobic platform, which has emboldened them. How convenient it is to categorize the Black Lives Matter demonstrations as violent, chaotic, and dangerous, so that when Trump-supporting self-appointed vigilantes show up with weapons to “bring law and order,” Trump and his base approve.

Trump has used the phrase “law and order” so frequently and specifically in reference to his mission for how he wants to squelch Black Lives Matter protests in “Democrat-led cities,” it’s clear what he means when he utters the racism-laced phrase.

“It’s playing on fear of Black people, of Black leadership, of Democratic leadership. It’s embarrassing. It’s awful,” says Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas.

On the first night of last week’s Republican National Convention, Americans had just learned of the shooting of another unarmed Black Man, Jacob Blake, by police. Blake was shot seven times in the back as his three young children watched.

None of the speakers at the Republican National Convention, not even the president, directly mentioned Blake’s murder. None of them expressed outrage— not even to use their now familiar phrase about “bad apples,” in reference to violent racist police officers who they say are the exception to the rule. None of the speakers acknowledged America’s problem with systemic racism; in fact, when they mentioned it at all, it was to deny its existence.

Instead, they used the current situation to conjure the image of an America of lawlessness and violence, should Trump’s opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, be elected.

“You won’t be safe in Biden’s America,” said Trump, reinforcing the message of earlier speakers, including Vice President Mike Pence.

Earlier in the month, Trump had said, “If you want a vision of your life under Biden presidency, think of the smoldering ruins in Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland, the bloodstained sidewalks of Chicago, and imagine the mayhem coming to your town and every single town in America.”

Kellyanne Conway confirmed what some Americans had already suspected: that the Republican Party, and Donald Trump’s hopes for re-election, are benefitting from the current violence, chaos, and unrest.

‘The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order,” said Conway on Fox News.

Does this make any kind of weird sense, even in Trumpworld, given that the “chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence

are all reigning now— under Donald Trump’s presidency?

Republicans cheer when Donald Trump says, “law and order,” but their interpretation of “law and order” allows AR-15-wielding private citizens to open fire against demonstrators. Last week, during a demonstration in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake was shot and killed, 17-year-old vigilante and Trump supporter Kyle Rittenhouse arrived in town from Antioch, Illinois, armed with a long gun, and shot two protesters, injuring a third.

The Trump administration has refused to condemn Rittenhouse’s actions, even when pressed, and so by default, demonstrates support. “He was trying to get away from them, I guess … and he fell, and then they very violently attacked him,” said Trump of Rittenhouse.

Several Fox News personalities, including Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson, have come out in defense of Rittenhouse. And again, as they are wont to do, Trump’s base has begun posting memes on social media in Rittenhouse’s defense. At least one crowd-funding site, Christian site GiveSendGo, has already started a fund in support of Rittenhouse (it should be noted that other sites, including GoFundMe, refused to host the fund drive).

Donald Trump is doing all he can to fan the flames of civil and racial unrest in the U.S. so that he can be re-elected to remedy the situation he has exacerbated, and in some cases, caused. Somehow, this makes sense to his base. He has portrayed the Black Lives Matter movement as an outlaw movement; instilled fear in his base that Black people will terrorize their neighborhoods; and cryptically given the OK for vigilantes, including white supremacists, to help bring “law and order.” The situation has been compared to that of a firefighter who starts a fire, pours gasoline on it, and then rushes in to heroically extinguish it. If we’re ever to put out the spreading fire of racism, pain, and outrage, however, Trump’s brand of “law and order” is the last thing we need.

Protests, violence play into Trump’s law-and-order campaign strategy | 
CBC News [2020-08-28] 

Pence pitches President Trump as “law and order” leader |  CBS News

Editorial: Why Does Donald Trump Avoid the Word “Racism”?

As mostly peaceful demonstrations continue across the U.S., Donald Trump has not only avoided addressing the systemic racism in the U.S. that motivated the protests, he avoids even saying the word, “racism.” That is, except when he is defending himself against an accusation that he is a racist.

According to an ABC News poll, “74 percent of Americans view the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer as a sign of an underlying racial injustice problem.”

In the past week, numerous leaders and public figures, both Democrat and Republican, have publicly condemned racism in the U.S.—the racism that led to the murder of George Floyd and other African Americans, by police.

Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a Trump apologist, acknowledged that many Americans see the recent killings of African Americans George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor as “the latest disturbing chapters in our long, unfinished American struggle to ensure that equal justice under law is not conditional on the color of one’s skin.”

Trump has been largely silent about racism, and has repeatedly conflated the peaceful protesters with others who have rioted and looted at the scenes of demonstrations. The effect is that his message of “law and order” and of violence against demonstrators seem more reasonable and even heroic, to his base.

“….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” Trump tweeted on May 29. (Twitter flagged the tweet with a warning, but did not remove it.)

The phrase, ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” was first used in 1967 by then-Miami police Chief Walter Headley, and directed at young black men.

Despite Trump’s frequent tweets about the demonstrations, it took him two days to tweet about George Floyd’s death, though the disturbing video of the white police officer pinning Floyd down on the pavement with a knee to Floyd’s neck until Floyd died had been widely circulated.

“My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!” Trump tweeted.

When Trump finally commented publicly (outside of Twitter) about Floyd’s death, his comments didn’t directly mention racism, but instead only acknowledged the pain of people who have “been through a lot.”

Trump also said, “The family of George is entitled to justice and the people of Minnesota are entitled to live in safety. Law and order will prevail.”

As with so many of Trump’s comments, they were vague enough and multi-purpose enough to satisfy his base in several ways. On one level, the base could use them to defend Trump against an accusation of racism. (“See, he is acknowledging that ‘they’ have been through a lot. He said George’s family deserves justice. That shows he’s not a racist.”) On another level, one could interpret them as showing strength (“He’s going to make sure those bad, looting protesters get what’s coming to them.”)

In the days that have followed, Trump has continued and even amplified his “law and order” rhetoric and signaling to his base regarding the demonstrations that are still taking place daily around the country. In his June 1 address about the demonstrations, Trump slipped in some remarks about defending 2nd Amendment rights:

“I am mobilizing all available federal resources — civilian and military — to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights.”

Who among Trump’s base did not interpret Trump’s remarks as a call to arms–  an invitation to the right-wing militia folks to step in and “help” with crowd control during the demonstrations?

Many white people are uncomfortable talking about race and racism, even if they hate it. Many others pretend or imagine that it doesn’t really exist, or that it’s “overblown.” But the blatant, hate-filled racist injustice that stared us all in the face by way of a video of George Lloyd being murdered by a police officer should be enough get almost anyone upset and talking about it. What president (or any decent human being) would not have been moved to immediately address his citizens’ outrage and pain? Our president, Donald J. Trump.

Even so, why has Trump not even pretended to care or be concerned for the millions of people of color in the U.S. whose lives are fraught with the effects of racism? Why has he not even uttered the word “racism,” acknowledged that it’s a national problem, or condemned it?

It’s because Donald Trump knows that his base is not interested. And Donald Trump is only interested in pandering to his base, who serve as his narcissistic reflection. Donald Trump only condemns what he thinks his base will praise him for condemning. He is only outraged when he perceives that someone has insulted or disagreed with him. And he is only moved by what impacts him and his re-election prospects.

“The president is always cognizant of how certain phrases are going to be interpreted by his hardcore base,” says Mark Anthony Neal, chair of the Department of African & African American Studies at Duke University. “He’s never going to talk about systematic racism in that way because he knows that’s something his base is not interested in and doesn’t want to hear.”

Donald Trump’s base doesn’t like it when someone accuses them of racism. Even if they acknowledge that racism exists, they don’t like seeing it as a problem that they’re a part of. And even if they see it as a problem, they don’t think it’s really a very big problem. They see the people who are the victims of racism—the immigrants and migrants and people of color—as the problem. They see Donald Trump as the one to solve the problem.

Donald Trump knows all of that, and he knows that his base wants to hear that it’s ok for them to blame “those people” for what’s wrong in this country, and for all of their feelings. He knows, too, that that adding a second amendment dog whistle, even out of context, makes them prick up their ears for an opportunity to exercise them, as in opposing protesters (it doesn’t matter to them whether they represent Black Lives Matter or whether they’re opportunists looking to make some trouble. Donald Trump has muddied the difference for them). Trump knows that condemning racism might make his base begin to question whether he still has their backs.

Why has Donald Trump not publicly condemned racism? Why, indeed.

Pres. Trump asked how he plans to address systemic racism  |  ABC News

President Trump makes remarks about protests | News 19 WLTX