by Wade Rathke
New Orleans I won’t say this is so bizarre and unreal that “you can’t make this stuff up.” I can’t say it, because in fact it is all totally made up.
President Trump has outdone himself once again, and as always has done so at the expense of the American people. After days of protests around the country and the world over police brutality and the killing by the police of George Floyd, whose death sentence turned out to have been basically over the crime of being a black man in Minneapolis. The president just couldn’t abide that all of this attention was not about him. He staged a photo-op in front of well-known Washington, D.C church that is essentially across Lafayette Square from the White House. He spoke to the press while holding a Bible. All of this was after he had threatened to mobilize the military to bring order to cities and states where he believed that mayors and governors were not doing enough to “dominate” the protestors, even though out of the other side of his mouth he claimed to believe the protests were legitimate.
Of course, as always with Trump, this is still only part of the story. There was a peaceful demonstration going on around the square and the church. He had the police clear the area so that he could get through the crowd to act in his own personal reality show in front of the church. The police did so with vigor and, amazingly, tear gas, to clear the path for this charade, underscoring without any irony intended the very brutality that has triggered global protests.
The Episcopal Bishop of Washington was horrified at the religious expropriation. She scolded the president for this display and underlined the fact that he didn’t even bother to pray despite being in front of the scarred church and holding a Bible, using the book as nothing more than a television prop.
Besides all of this fakery, what in blue blazes was the president thinking, if that’s not too much of a stretch to imagine? Even the medieval editorial writers at the Wall Street Journal noted that his calling out the military, as he threatened, would give substance and proof to charges that his real ambitions are simply dictatorial. They didn’t mention that the National Guard for their part has already been mobilized, during the pandemic and now the anti-police brutality protests, in numbers that are a record for the USA.
Likely his threat will fuel even more protests. Who can take any of the bullying tactics of the president seriously? He is trying to channel Nixon and Reagan by pretending to be a “law and order” president even as he breaks the law routinely and courts chaos rather than order every time he opens his mouth. Taking real steps to rein in the police, create meaningful reforms, and curb racism might work, but for the protestors “sticks and stones might break their bones, but words will never hurt them.”