I guess I have been the same as people throughout the world, watching USA with increasing horror. Watching a great country currently led by a madman pandering to his ego, and to the misguided people who trust him. If ever Trump’s true colours were to be shown, they were this week as he walked across the road and held up a bible in front of a church.
As a New Yorker profile of Trump put it nearly a quarter-century ago, Trump lives “an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.”
In politics you know you have gone too far when people drop their eyes as they pass you on the street. It’s worse when those who would normally support you make comments about you publicly. In big time politics, like the President of the USA, when conservative former Generals come out publicly and start criticising you then you have gone way too far.
Here’s what some of them have been saying this week:
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, CIA director for George W. Bush and Barack Obama:
They were very calm (the demonstrators), and then the military and the police and the Secret Service came in. I was aghast.
I was living in a communist country for two years, in Bulgaria, during the Cold War. And so, I know what happens when somebody uses a little power to abuse people. I don’t know what happened to America.
If Trump serves one term, it’s very, very bad, but I think we can stand it, and we can come back sooner or later. Two terms, we’re done. America will not be the same. Period.
General Mike Mullan:
This is not the time for stunts. This is the time for leadership.
General James Mattis, Secretary of Defence under Trump:
James Mattis, the esteemed Marine general who resigned as Secretary of Defence in December 2018 to protest Donald Trump’s Syria policy, has, ever since, kept studiously silent about Trump’s performance as president. But he has now broken his silence, writing an extraordinary broadside in which he denounces the president for dividing the nation, and accuses him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis writes. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”
I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.
When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.
We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.
Secretary of Defence, Mike Esper has come under fire along with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, for their participation in the visit to the church and the deployment of 1,400 active-duty soldiers to bases near Washington, as Trump demands law and order. Esper has said he didn’t know where the group was going when Trump took his advisers across the street to the church. On Wednesday morning, Esper also addressed whether he thought the Pentagon should use active-duty troops.
“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations,” Esper said. “We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
There were interesting, and sometimes chilling, comments made about Trump’s foolish act. Here are a few:
An Australian journalist:
What happened really destroyed my understanding of American culture. Until now, the access from the police has been quite good, in that once you made clear you were the media, you felt very safe to do your job. This changed that.
In Australia, we’ve had 100 covid-related deaths. Here, it’s been more than 100,000. And now, I’ve had so many messages from friends and family saying, “Just get out of there, it’s too dangerous.” Not referring to the protests. Referring to the U.S.
Robert Hendrickson, a rector at Saint Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church:
“This is an awful man, waving a book he hasn’t read, in front of a church he doesn’t attend, invoking laws he doesn’t understand, against fellow Americans he sees as enemies, wielding a military he dodged serving, to protect power he gained via accepting foreign interference, exploiting fear and anger he loves to stoke, after failing to address a pandemic he was warned about, and building it all on a bed of constant lies and childish inanity. This is not partisan. It is simply about recognizing the moral vacuum that is now pretending to lead.”
Where is Congress? Where is the Supreme Court? Where are the mayors and governors? Living former presidents? Where are the university presidents, foundation heads, religious leaders, corporate leaders, union heads, editors and publishers? All must stand up to Trump’s madness.
There has been debate about the event, throughout the world. The death of George Floyd has sparked massive response across USA. The death of one person is tragic because of Police brutality, but it has ignited a tinder box of emotions. Most of them peaceful and, interestingly, attracting a large white segment of the population marching alongside their black brothers and sisters.
One thing which attracted my attention was the decision by the New York Times to publish an article by a conservative Republican Senator, Tom Cotton, who supported calling in the troops. Here is how the headline was displayed in the Times:
There was backlash from journalists in the Times one writing:
I’d compare it to the same question I’ve been asking people on the ground here in Minneapolis: Why is this the police killing the one that drove everything over the edge?”
He pointed to a confluence of recent events — coronavirus’s disproportionate toll on minority communities, the killing of Ahmaud Arbery by a retired police detective in Georgia, the shooting death of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police executing a search warrant on the wrong home, the viral incident when a white woman called the police on a black birdwatcher in Central Park. “We are already in a moment in America where black people and black journalists felt vulnerable,” said Eligon. “To that extent I think that there needs to be some serious discussion about why the Cotton piece was published, how it happened and what needs to be done going forward so that we have a systemic change in the way we go about things about the Times.”
The Editor of this section of the Times replied, saying he said he disagreed with what Cotton wrote but:
Cotton and others in power are advocating the use of the military, and I believe the public would be better equipped to push back if it heard the argument and had the chance to respond to the reasoning. Readers who might be inclined to oppose Cotton’s position need to be fully aware of it, and reckon with it, if they hope to defeat it. To me, debating influential ideas openly, rather than letting them go unchallenged, is far more likely to help society reach the right answers.
But it is impossible to feel righteous about any of this. I know that my own view may be wrong.
It is an interesting debate. It is essential that there be balance in the media covering all sides of a debate. I completely disagree with Senator Cotton but his perspective needs to be in the open so that the debate can take place.
I am as white as you get. Those of Celtic ancestry have a special white which turns red Immediately in the sun, sometimes just in the light. I can only say I empathise with the reporters who are black or brown when they say that this article puts them all at risk. Noel Pearson, in the YouTube clip below said “only those who have known discrimination truly know its evil”. However, was this article about colour, or is it a defence of the over-use of state power, and must be printed as it is fundamentally wrong? So people can see what is really in the minds of these deluded people? Isn’t it about a person within the power block in control attempting to cover up for his ineffectual leader? Surely that is the debate.
The demonstrations are about black rights; as they should be. The article was a defence of abuse of power which needed to be published so that we could see those in power as they really are. Abusing power and being defended by a sycophant.