CIA veterans who monitored crackdowns abroad see troubling parallels in Trump’s handling of protests ~ The Washington Post

imrs.php
President Trump passes police after visiting St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House on June 1. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Black Voters Are Coming for Trump

They shouldn’t lose hope. They are at the heart of the fight to take back America.

By

Mr. Williams is a Fox News analyst.

 

03Williams-superJumbo
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

 

In Columbia, S.C., on Saturday, a young protester told a reporterthat she just didn’t think voting is “how change happens.”

“They’ve been telling us to do that for so long,” she added, “and we’ve done it — and look at everything that’s still going on.”

Fury over the cruel death of George Floyd, a black man in police custody, combined with fear of a deadly virus and its painful economic impact, make this a dark, dizzying moment in our national life. But African-Americans shouldn’t feel hopeless, because the black vote does matter — it has never mattered more. It is at the heart of the fight to take back America.

The biggest story of 2020 politics is hard to ignore. But somehow it is being ignored.

The black vote now defines American politics.

Joe Biden would be retired if not for the black vote. Black voters made him the Democrats’ presidential nominee. In November, the number of black voters who turn out in the crucial swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin is likely to be the deciding factor in the election. That means black voters, 12 percent of the national electorate, are set to pick our next president.

Black women, the most reliable activist base of the party, are this year’s version of the stars of past campaigns — Soccer Moms and Blue Collar Moms. The best illustration of this power is a black woman asking Jim Clyburn, her South Carolina congressman, who he planned to vote for in the primary. He said Joe Biden and followed up with a public endorsement: “We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us.”

Mr. Biden went on to blow out the competition in South Carolina and easily win the rest of the South. Two top competitors with no traction among black voters, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, dropped out and endorsed him.

The party’s sudden consolidation around Mr. Biden abruptly ended a confusing race that many feared was hurtling toward an open convention. Few had seen it coming. Mr. Biden looked boring in comparison with the impassioned Bernie Sanders and the furious Donald Trump. Yet polls consistently showed that in a general election matchup, it was Mr. Biden who held the highest margin of victory over Mr. Trump.

There are many reasons for black voters to like Mr. Biden — his record on judicial appointments and voting rights during his long tenure on the Senate Judiciary Committee; his work on federal stimulus spending after the recession and on Obamacare; and of course his service as vice president to the nation’s first black president.

But beating Mr. Trump tops the list. For black voters, the prospect of four more years of this administration is about more than politics.

It’s personal.

It is a reaction born of real fear — of the racism that led a white man to shoot Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and a white police officer to press his knee into the neck of George Floyd in Minnesota, of the racism that every day results in more black people dying of the coronavirus. African-Americans see this, and they see a president who does nothing to stop it

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

Park Police Tear Gas Peaceful Protesters To Clear Way For Trump Church Photo-Op ~ NPR

An old girlfriend (very old by now) told me once and I quote “Roberts you have made being ABSOLUTELY WRONG ALL THE TIME, an art form!!!”  It’s hard to believe that he’s surpassed even my almost perfect record.

Police gather to remove demonstrators from the area around Lafayette Park and the White House before President Trump’s walk to St. John’s Church.

Alex Brandon/AP

 

 

The plaza between St. John’s Church and Lafayette Park was full of people nonviolently protesting police brutality late Monday afternoon when U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops, with the use of tear gas, suddenly started pushing them away for no apparent reason.

And then it became clear. President Trump wanted to walk from the White House through the park to the Episcopal church. Camera crews scrambled to keep up with him as he strode through the park, followed by his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, along with Attorney General William Barr and other administration officials.

Trump stopped briefly outside the church and held up a Bible.

“We have the greatest country in the world,” he said. “Keep it nice and safe.”

The impromptu visit came just after Trump delivered remarks at the White House, declaring himself “your president of law and order” and demanding that governors deploy National Guard units and “dominate the streets.”

St. John’s Church opened in 1816 and is known as “the Church of the Presidents,” having hosted every U.S. president since James Madison. On this occasion, however, the president’s visit was unannounced, and church authorities were furious that the White House did not bother to alert them beforehand.

“There was no reaching out, no sense that it would require some sort of authorization before using the church as a backdrop in that way,” said The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Episcopal Bishop of Washington, with oversight responsibilities for the church.

Trump holds up the Bible outside of St John’s Episcopal church across Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. on June 1, 2020.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

 

When the president held up the Bible, without praying or quoting a verse appropriate for the moment, Budde was further incensed.

“It almost looked like a prop,” she told NPR. “That is the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It speaks messages of love, of God, love of neighbor. I was outraged that he felt that he had the license to do that, and that he would abuse our sacred symbols and our sacred space in that way.”

The church has long been known for its support of social justice causes, and in the hours before the president showed up, clergy and lay volunteers had been ministering to the protesters in the plaza. Protests, some of them violent, had occurred around the church on previous nights, and the church was briefly in danger on Sunday after a fire started in the church basement.

A former St. John’s minister, Gini Gerbasi, was among those attending to the protesters in front of the church when the police moved in.

“We were literally DRIVEN OFF of the St. John’s, Lafayette Square patio with tear gas and concussion grenades and police in full riot gear,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “PEOPLE WERE HURT SO THAT [President Trump] COULD HAVE A PHOTO OPPORTUNITY IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH!!! HE WOULD HAVE HAD TO STEP OVER THE MEDICAL SUPPLIES WE LEFT BEHIND BECAUSE WE WERE BEING TEAR GASSED!!!!”

In a statement Monday evening, the Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry joined in the criticism of Trump’s visit.

“This evening, the President of the United States stood in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, lifted up a bible, and had pictures of himself taken,” Curry said. “In so doing, he used a church building and the Holy Bible for partisan political purposes. This was done in a time of deep hurt and pain in our country, and his action did nothing to help us or to heal us.”

The church visit was praised, however, by a member of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, the Rev. Johnnie Moore.

“I will never forget seeing @POTUS @realDonaldTrump slowly & in-total-command walk from the @WhiteHouse across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Church defying those who aim to derail our national healing by spreading fear, hate & anarchy,” Moore tweeted.

Why do people think Trump supporters are stupid? Found on facebook, sorry …

eqnoerxwoam9ae3

An anguished question from a Trump supporter: ‘Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?’

THE SERIOUS ANSWER: Here’s what the majority of anti-Trump voters honestly feel about Trump supporters en masse:

That when you saw a man who had owned a fraudulent University, intent on scamming poor people, you thought “Fine.” (https://www.usatoday.com/…/trump-university-sett…/502387002/)

That when you saw a man who had made it his business practice to stiff his creditors, you said, “Okay.” (https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-hotel-paid-millions-in-…)

That when you heard him proudly brag about his own history of sexual abuse, you said, “No problem.” (https://abcnews.go.com/…/list-trumps-accusers-allega…/story…)

That when he made up stories about seeing Muslim-Americans in the thousands cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center, you said, “Not an issue.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/donald-trumps-outrageous-…/)

That when you saw him brag that he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and you wouldn’t care, you exclaimed, “He sure knows me.” (https://www.usatoday.com/…/president-donald-tru…/4073405002/)

That when you heard him relating a story of an elderly guest of his country club, an 80-year old man, who fell off a stage and hit his head, to Trump replied: “‘Oh my God, that’s disgusting,’ and I turned away. I couldn’t—you know, he was right in front of me, and I turned away. I didn’t want to touch him. He was bleeding all over the place. And I felt terrible, because it was a beautiful white marble floor, and now it had changed color. Became very red.” You said, “That’s cool!” (https://www.gq.com/story/donald-trump-howard-stern-story)

That when you saw him mock the disabled, you thought it was the funniest thing you ever saw. (https://www.nbcnews.com/…/donald-trump-criticized-after-he-…)

That when you heard him brag that he doesn’t read books, you said, “Well, who has time?” (https://www.theatlantic.com/…/americas-first-post-t…/549794/)

That when the Central Park Five were compensated as innocent men convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, and he angrily said that they should still be in prison, you said, “That makes sense.” (https://www.usatoday.com/…/what-trump-has-said-…/1501321001/)

That when you heard him tell his supporters to beat up protesters and that he would hire attorneys, you thought, “Yes!” (https://www.latimes.com/…/la-na-trump-campaign-protests-201…)

That when you heard him tell one rally to confiscate a man’s coat before throwing him out into the freezing cold, you said, “What a great guy!” (https://www.independent.co.uk/…/donald-trump-orders-protest…)

That you have watched the parade of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with whom he curries favor, while refusing to condemn outright Nazis, and you have said, “Thumbs up!” (https://www.theatlantic.com/…/why-cant-trump-just-c…/567320/)

That you hear him unable to talk to foreign dignitaries without insulting their countries and demanding that they praise his electoral win, you said, “That’s the way I want my President to be.” (https://www.huffpost.com/…/trump-insult-foreign-countries-l…)

That you have watched him remove expertise from all layers of government in favor of people who make money off of eliminating protections in the industries they’re supposed to be regulating and you have said, “What a genius!” (https://www.politico.com/…/138-trump-policy-changes-2017-00…)

That you have heard him continue to profit from his businesses, in part by leveraging his position as President, to the point of overcharging the Secret Service for space in the properties he owns, and you have said, “That’s smart!” (https://www.usnews.com/…/how-is-donald-trump-profiting-from…)

That you have heard him say that it was difficult to help Puerto Rico because it was in the middle of water and you have said, “That makes sense.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/the-very-big-ocean-betwee…/)

That you have seen him start fights with every country from Canada to New Zealand while praising Russia and quote, “falling in love” with the dictator of North Korea, and you have said, “That’s statesmanship!” (https://www.cnn.com/…/donald-trump-dictators-kim…/index.html)

That Trump separated children from their families and put them in cages, managed to lose track of 1500 kids, has opened a tent city incarceration camp in the desert in Texas – he explains that they’re just “animals” – and you say, “Well, OK then.” (https://www.nbcnews.com/…/more-5-400-children-split-border-…)

That you have witnessed all the thousand and one other manifestations of corruption and low moral character and outright animalistic rudeness and contempt for you, the working American voter, and you still show up grinning and wearing your MAGA hats and threatening to beat up anybody who says otherwise. (https://www.americanprogress.org/…/confronting-cost-trumps…/)

What you don’t get, Trump supporters, is that our succumbing to frustration and shaking our heads, thinking of you as stupid, may very well be wrong and unhelpful, but it’s also…hear me…charitable.

Because if you’re NOT stupid, we must turn to other explanations, and most of them are less flattering.

How We Broke the World ~ NYT

Screen Shot 2020-06-01 at 7.14.34 AM

 

 

By

Opinion Columnist

 

If recent weeks have shown us anything, it’s that the world is not just flat. It’s fragile.

And we’re the ones who made it that way with our own hands. Just look around. Over the past 20 years, we’ve been steadily removing man-made and natural buffers, redundancies, regulations and norms that provide resilience and protection when big systems — be they ecological, geopolitical or financial — get stressed. We’ve been recklessly removing these buffers out of an obsession with short-term efficiency and growth, or without thinking at all.

At the same time, we’ve been behaving in extreme ways — pushing against, and breaching, common-sense political, financial and planetary boundaries.

And, all the while, we’ve taken the world technologically from connected to interconnected to interdependent — by removing more friction and installing more grease in global markets, telecommunications systems, the internet and travel. In doing so, we’ve made globalization faster, deeper, cheaper and tighter than ever before. Who knew that there were regular direct flights from Wuhan, China, to America?

Put all three of these trends together and what you have is a world more easily prone to shocks and extreme behaviors — but with fewer buffers to cushion those shocks — and many more networked companies and people to convey them globally.

This, of course, was revealed clearly in the latest world-spanning crisis — the coronavirus pandemic. But this trend of more frequent destabilizing crises has been building over the past 20 years: 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008, Covid-19 and climate change. Pandemics are no longer just biological — they are now geopolitical, financial and atmospheric, too. And we will suffer increasing consequences unless we start behaving differently and treating Mother Earth differently.

Note the pattern: Before each crisis I mentioned, we first experienced what could be called a “mild” heart attack, alerting us that we had gone to extremes and stripped away buffers that had protected us from catastrophic failure. In each case, though, we did not take that warning seriously enough — and in each case the result was a full global coronary.

“We created globalized networks because they could make us more efficient and productive and our lives more convenient,” explained Gautam Mukunda, the author of “Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter.” “But when you steadily remove their buffers, backup capacities and surge protectors in pursuit of short-term efficiency or just greed, you ensure that these systems are not only less resistant to shocks, but that we spread those shocks everywhere.”

~~~  CONTINUE – THIS A GOOD PIECE ~~~

 

Atlanta mayor on Trump: ‘He should just stop talking’ ~ CNN

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 1.46.55 PM

~~~  WATCH  ~~~

Washington (CNN)Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Sunday rebuked Donald Trump’s rhetoric amid days of protests after the death of George Floyd, saying the President “is making it worse” and is stoking racial tensions.

“He should just stop talking. This is like Charlottesville all over again,” Bottoms told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “He speaks and he makes it worse. There are times when you should just be quiet and I wish that he would just be quiet. Or if he can’t be silent, if there is somebody of good sense and good conscience in the White House, put him in front of a teleprompter and pray he reads it and at least says the right things, because he is making it worse.”
Her remarks come amid ongoing protests across the country over the death of Floyd, an unarmed African American man who died after he was pinned down by a white Minneapolis police officer. In a series of tweets on Friday, Trump called protestors “THUGS” adding, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a phrase with racist origins used by a former Miami police chief in the late 1960s in the wake of protests.
CNN reached out to the White House for response to Bottoms’ comments on Sunday.
The Atlanta mayor also told Tapper she is extremely concerned about people gathering to protest amid the coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted life in the US. There are more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of the virus in the US and at least 103,800 people have died as of Sunday morning, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
“I am extremely concerned when we are seeing mass gatherings. We know what’s already happening in our community with this virus,” she said. “We’re going to see — we’re going to see the other side of this in a couple of weeks.” She added, ” We are losing sight of so many things right now.”
Bottoms urged Americans not to lose sight of the need for “change in this country as it relates to race relations in this country. There has to be change in this country when it comes to leadership in this country. There has to be change as it relates to our health care system and how our communities of color are receiving health care in this country. But right now, we’re talking about cars being burned and businesses being vandalized.”
Bottoms, a former judge and city council member, was sworn in as mayor in 2018 and has quickly emerged as one of the Democratic Party’s rising stars. On Friday night, amid a swirl of increasingly tense and occasionally violent scenes, she faced the cameras, her constituents — and the country.
“I am a mother to four black children in America, one of whom is 18 years old. And when I saw the murder of George Floyd, I hurt like a mother would hurt,” Bottoms said. “And yesterday when I heard there were rumors about violent protests in Atlanta, I did what a mother would do, I called my son and I said, ‘Where are you?’ I said, ‘I cannot protect you and black boys shouldn’t be out today.'”
She stopped for a moment, pursed her lips, and then delivered a frank and personal message.
“So, you’re not going to out-concern me and out-care about where we are in America,” Bottoms said. “I wear this each and every day, and I pray over my children, each and every day.”
In July of 2019, Bottoms spoke out forcefully against planned Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Atlanta, and other cities, telling CNN at the time that her city was “not complicit in what’s happening.”
She dismissed the federal targeting of migrants as a means of reducing crime, as the Trump administration has often framed it, and said her office would provide legal assistance to immigrant families, in English and Spanish, and warned those communities to be vigilant ahead of the scheduled sweeps.
“Our officers don’t enforce immigration borders,” Bottoms said. “We’ve closed our city detention centers to ICE because we don’t want to be complicit in family separation.”
This story has been updated with additional developments.

 

This is the President of the US talking this trash ~ rŌbert … Trump Threatens White House Protesters With ‘Vicious Dogs’ and ‘Ominous Weapons’ ~ NYT

The president also said that his base “love the black people” 

merlin_172994628_a5bfdeda-1454-4e11-adb5-84b495ca641f-superJumbo
Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

 

A day after claiming he didn’t mean to suggest that law enforcement officials should shoot people who were part of the unrest in Minnesota, President Trump said on Saturday that the Secret Service had been prepared to sic the “most vicious dogs” on protesters outside the White House gates on Friday night.

“Great job last night at the White House by the U.S. @SecretService,” Mr. Trump tweeted in a string of four posts on Saturday. “They were not only totally professional, but very cool. I was inside, watched every move, and couldn’t have felt more safe.”

He continued that the Secret Service allowed the protesters to “scream & rant as much as they wanted” and only acted when “someone got too frisky or out of line.”

“The front line was replaced with fresh agents, like magic,” he added. “Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence. If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least.”

Mr. Trump claimed that Secret Service agents told him they were clamoring for engagement with the protesters. “We put the young ones on the front line, sir, they love it, and good practice,” he claimed he had been told.

He also appeared to invite his own supporters to amass outside the White House on Saturday to counter the protesters, despite a ban against gatherings of more than 10 people in effect in Washington amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???” he tweeted, using the acronym for his first campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” And he tried to paint the protesters as recruited agitators instead of people organically making a statement.

Mr. Trump’s renewed threat of violence against the protesters came as protests erupted in cities across the country.

And it came a day after he tweeted — and then tried to walk back — that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in response to protests in Minneapolis against the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a white police officer.

That phrase was used in 1967 by a Miami police chief in reference to crackdowns on young black men. The chief, Walter Headley, accused the men of operating under cover of the civil rights movement and said his police force didn’t mind being accused of police brutality.

Mr. Trump waited nearly 14 hours to try to walk that statement back, claiming he had meant that when people loot, they then sometimes fire guns as well. And in remarks at a late afternoon event at the White House, Mr. Trump conceded that some of the protesters had legitimate grievances.

Mr. Trump traveled to Florida on Saturday for the second time this week to watch SpaceX try to launch a rocket to the International Space Station. The initial launch was scrubbed shortly before it was set to take place on Wednesday.

Talking to reporters as he left the White House, Mr. Trump was asked about his tweet that seemed to invite his own supporters to rally outside the White House. As he often does, Mr. Trump distanced himself from his own statements, saying he was merely asking a question and that he didn’t know if people were coming. He claimed not to be trying to stoke racial strife.

merlin_172979547_43d64b40-0ebf-44a1-a1ab-60f4e764de7f-superJumbo
Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

 

“By the way, they love African-American people, they love black people,” Mr. Trump volunteered, unprompted, describing his own supporters, who are overwhelmingly white.

“MAGA loves the black people,” he added.

He reiterated his condemnation of Minnesota’s governor and the mayor of Minneapolis, both Democrats, painting the matter in starkly political terms as his opposition to “liberal” activists.

“They’ve got to get tougher. They’ve got to get tougher,” Mr. Trump said of the responses to the unrest, which resulted on Thursday night in the burning of the police station where the officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s death worked. “They’ve got to be strong. Honor the memory of George Floyd, honor his memory. They have to get tougher, and by being tougher they will be honoring his memory, but they cannot let that happen.”

He again raised the prospect of sending in the military to quell the unrest.

“We could have troops on the ground very quickly if they ever want our military,” Mr. Trump said.

Get For You, a personalized daily digest with more stories like this.

Sign up

At Mr. Trump’s behest, the Defense Department ordered the Army to prepare active-duty military police units to deploy from several army bases to Minneapolis. The move does not mean that the units will be activated, but it is a first step toward doing so, officials said.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly criticized protesting groups that are predominantly made up of black people. In the 2016 campaign, he condemned the Black Lives Matter protesters as a “threat.”

Since he became president, he has also denounced protesters critical of his administration as being members of “antifa,” a contraction of the word “antifascist.” The name has become a catch-all for a loose affiliation of radical activists who oppose the far right.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump insisted that the protesters were far-left extremists, a claim that Attorney General William P. Barr echoed on Saturday.

“Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda,” Mr. Barr said.

“In many places it appears the violence is planned, organized and driven by anarchic and left extremist groups, far-left extremist groups, using antifa-like tactics, many of whom travel from outside the state to promote the violence.”

While it is the responsibility of state and local officials to get the rioting under control, Mr. Barr said the F.B.I. and other federal law enforcement would support those efforts. He warned it was a violation of federal law to cross state lines “to incite or participate in violent rioting.” The Department of Justice and F.B.I., he said, would enforce those laws.

On Twitter on Saturday, Mr. Trump also denounced several mainstream news outlets, a day after a CNN reporter was arrested on camera for no apparent reason by police officers in riot gear in Minneapolis, and a female reporter for a local television station was shot with what appeared to be pepper balls by an officer in Louisville, Ky.

“Much more ‘disinformation’ coming out of CNN, MSDNC, @nytimes and @washingtonpost, by far, than coming out of any foreign country, even combined. Fake News is the Enemy of the People!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting.

Maggie Haberman is a White House correspondent. She joined The Times in 2015 as a campaign correspondent and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on President Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. @maggieNYT

America Is a Tinderbox ~ NYT

Scenes from a country in free fall.

By

Opinion Columnist

30Goldberg1-superJumbo

Credit…Carlos Barria/Reuters

 

The last two and a half months in America have felt like the opening montage in a dystopian film about a nation come undone. First the pandemic hit and hospitals in New York City were overwhelmed. The national economy froze and unemployment soared; one in four American workers has applied for unemployment benefits since March. Lines of cars stretched for miles at food banks. Heavily armed lockdown protesters demonstrated across the country; in Michigan, they forced the Capitol to close and legislators to cancel their session. Nationwide, at least 100,000 people died of a disease almost no one had heard of last year.

Then, this week, a Minneapolis police officer was filmed kneeling on the neck of a black man named George Floyd. As the life went out of him, Floyd pleaded that he couldn’t breathe, echoing the last words of Eric Garner, whose 2014 death at the hands of New York policemen helped catalyze the Black Lives Matter movement. Floyd’s death came only days after three Georgia men were arrested on charges of pursuing and killing a young black man, Ahmaud Arbery, whom they saw out running. A prosecutor had initially declined to charge the men on the grounds that their actions were legal under the state’s self-defense laws.

In Minneapolis protesters poured into the streets, where they met a far harsher police response than anything faced by the country’s gun-toting anti-lockdown activists. On Wednesday night, peaceful demonstrations turned into riots, and on Thursday Minnesota’s governor called in the National Guard.

For a moment, it seemed as if the blithe brutality of Floyd’s death might check the worst impulses of the president and his Blue Lives Matter supporters. The authorities were forced to act: All four of the policemen involved were fired, police chiefs across the country condemned them and William Barr’s Justice Department promised a federal investigation that would be a “top priority.” Even Donald Trump, who has encouraged police brutality in the past, described what happened to Floyd as a “very, very bad thing.”

But on Thursday night, after a county prosecutor said his office was still determining if the four policemen had committed a crime, the uprising in Minneapolis was reignited, and furious people burned a police precinct. (One of the officers was arrested and charged with third-degree murder on Friday.) On Twitter, an addled Trump threatened military violence against those he called “THUGS,” writing, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Whether Trump knew it or not, he was quoting a racist phrase from the 1960s used by George Wallace, among others. The president later tried to tamp down outrage by saying he was just warning of danger — the Trump campaign has hoped, after all, to peel off some black voters from the Democrats — but his meaning was obvious enough. This is the same president who on Thursday tweeted out a video of a supporter saying, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”

The Trump presidency has been marked by shocking spasms of right-wing violence: the white nationalist riot in Charlottesville, Va., the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the mass shooting targeting Latinos in El Paso. But even as the country has simmered and seethed, there hasn’t been widespread disorder. Now, though, we might be at the start of a long, hot summer of civil unrest.

So many things make America combustible right now: mass unemployment, a pandemic that’s laid bare murderous health and economic inequalities, teenagers with little to do, police violence, right-wingers itching for a second civil war and a president eager to pour gasoline on every fire. “I think we’re indeed in a moment where things are going to get a lot more tense before they get more peaceful,” said the University of Michigan historian Heather Ann Thompson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her 2016 book “Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy.”

Already the Minneapolis protests have spread to other cities. On Thursday night, someone fired a gun near a crowd of demonstrators in Denver and more than 40 people were arrested in New York City. Seven people were shot at a protest in Louisville, Ky., where crowds had turned out to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, an unarmed black woman who was shot by police in her own apartment in March.

These demonstrations were sparked by specific instances of police violence, but they also take place in a context of widespread health and economic devastation that’s been disproportionately borne by people of color, especially those who are poor. “Sociologists have studied collective behavior, urban unrest for decades, and I think it’s safe to say that the consensus view is that it’s never just about a precipitating incident that resulted in the unrest,” Darnell Hunt, dean of social sciences at U.C.L.A., told me. “It’s always a collection of factors that make the situation ripe for collective behavior, unrest and mobilization.”

Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s progressive attorney general, told me that lately, when he goes out walking or running in Minneapolis, he feels a “coiled sort of anxiousness ready to spring.” Many people, he said, “have been cooped up for two months, and so now they’re in a different space and a different place. They’re restless. Some of them have been unemployed, some of them don’t have rent money, and they’re angry, they’re frustrated.”

That frustration is likely to build, because the economic ruin from the pandemic is just beginning. In some states, moratoriums on evictions have ended or will soon. The expanded unemployment benefits passed by Congress as part of the CARES Act run out at the end of July. State budgets have been ravaged, and Republicans in Washington have so far refused to come to states’ aid, meaning we’ll likely soon see painful cutbacks in public jobs and services.

“Where people are broke, and there doesn’t appear to be any assistance, there’s no leadership, there’s no clarity about what is going to happen, this creates the conditions for anger, rage, desperation and hopelessness, which can be a very volatile combination,” said Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor of African-American studies at Princeton. “I would not at all be surprised to see this kind of reaction elsewhere over the course of the next several months.”

But if America feels like a tinderbox at the moment, it’s not just because of pressure coming from the dispossessed. On Wednesday, the journalists Robert Evans and Jason Wilson published a fascinating and disturbing look at the “boogaloo” movement — “an extremely online update of the militia movement” — on the investigative website Bellingcat. “The ‘boogaloo Bois’ expect, even hope, that the warmer weather will bring armed confrontations with law enforcement, and will build momentum towards a new civil war in the United States,” Evans and Wilson write. They add, “In a divided, destabilized post-coronavirus landscape, they could well contribute to widespread violence in the streets of American cities.”

The boogaloo movement’s surreal iconography includes Hawaiian shirts — often mixed with combat gear — and igloos. (The idea is that “luau” and “igloo” sound like “boogaloo.”) People associated with the subculture had a significant presence at the lockdown protests, but some, motivated by hatred of the police and a love of bedlam, took part in the Minneapolis demonstrations as well. (According to Evans and Wilson, while much of boogaloo culture is steeped in white supremacy, there’s a “very active struggle within some parts of this movement as to whether or not their dreamed-of uprising will be based in bigotry.”) Ellison told me he saw boogaloo bois holding a flag with an igloo on it at the Wednesday night protest in Minneapolis.

Most American presidents, faced with such domestic instability, would seek de-escalation. This is one reason civil unrest, for all the damage it can cause to communities where it breaks out, has often led to reform. Change has come, said Thompson, when activists have “created a situation where the people in power actually had to act in order to bring back some meaningful public peace.”

Now, however, we have a president who doesn’t much care about warding off chaos. “In every other time when protest has reached a fever pitch because injustices very much needed to be remedied, the country ultimately tried to find a new equilibrium, tried to address it enough to reach some sort of peace,” said Thompson. “We now have a leadership that’s been crystal clear that it’s perfectly OK if we descend into utter civil war.”

Some of the tropes are familiar, but we haven’t seen this movie before. No one knows how dark things could get, only that, in the Trump era, scenes that seem nightmarish one day come to look almost normal the next.

If We Had a Real Leader ~ NYT

Imagining Covid under a normal president.

By

Opinion Columnist

merlin_166270017_ff3065a8-98d1-4e55-9aa3-5a3e0c8e4f0a-superJumbo
Credit…Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

This week I had a conversation that left a mark. It was with Mary Louise Kelly and E.J. Dionne on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and it was about how past presidents had handled moments of national mourning — Lincoln after Gettysburg, Reagan after the Challenger explosion and Obama after the Sandy Hook school shootings.

The conversation left me wondering what America’s experience of the pandemic would be like if we had a real leader in the White House.

If we had a real leader, he would have realized that tragedies like 100,000 Covid-19 deaths touch something deeper than politics: They touch our shared vulnerability and our profound and natural sympathy for one another.

In such moments, a real leader steps outside of his political role and reveals himself uncloaked and humbled, as someone who can draw on his own pains and simply be present with others as one sufferer among a common sea of sufferers.

If we had a real leader, she would speak of the dead not as a faceless mass but as individual persons, each seen in unique dignity. Such a leader would draw on the common sources of our civilization, the stores of wisdom that bring collective strength in hard times.

Lincoln went back to the old biblical cadences to comfort a nation. After the church shooting in Charleston, Barack Obama went to “Amazing Grace,” the old abolitionist anthem that has wafted down through the long history of African-American suffering and redemption.

In his impromptu remarks right after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy recalled the slaying of his own brother and quoted Aeschylus: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

If we had a real leader, he would be bracingly honest about how bad things are, like Churchill after the fall of Europe. He would have stored in his upbringing the understanding that hard times are the making of character, a revelation of character and a test of character. He would offer up the reality that to be an American is both a gift and a task. Every generation faces its own apocalypse, and, of course, we will live up to our moment just as our ancestors did theirs.

If we had a real leader, she would remind us of our common covenants and our common purposes. America is a diverse country joined more by a common future than by common pasts. In times of hardships real leaders re-articulate the purpose of America, why we endure these hardships and what good we will make out of them.

After the Challenger explosion, Reagan reminded us that we are a nation of explorers and that the explorations at the frontiers of science would go on, thanks in part to those who “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”

At Gettysburg, Lincoln crisply described why the fallen had sacrificed their lives — to show that a nation “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” can long endure and also to bring about “a new birth of freedom” for all the world.

Of course, right now we don’t have a real leader. We have Donald Trump, a man who can’t fathom empathy or express empathy, who can’t laugh or cry, love or be loved — a damaged narcissist who is unable to see the true existence of other human beings except insofar as they are good or bad for himself.

But it’s too easy to offload all blame on Trump. Trump’s problem is not only that he’s emotionally damaged; it is that he is unlettered. He has no literary, spiritual or historical resources to draw upon in a crisis.

All the leaders I have quoted above were educated under a curriculum that put character formation at the absolute center of education. They were trained by people who assumed that life would throw up hard and unexpected tests, and it was the job of a school, as one headmaster put it, to produce young people who would be “acceptable at a dance, invaluable in a shipwreck.”

Think of the generations of religious and civic missionaries, like Frances Perkins, who flowed out of Mount Holyoke. Think of all the Morehouse Men and Spelman Women. Think of all the young students, in schools everywhere, assigned Plutarch and Thucydides, Isaiah and Frederick Douglass — the great lessons from the past on how to lead, endure, triumph or fail. Only the great books stay in the mind for decades and serve as storehouses of wisdom when hard times come.

Right now, science and the humanities should be in lock step: science producing vaccines, with the humanities stocking leaders and citizens with the capacities of resilience, care and collaboration until they come. But, instead, the humanities are in crisis at the exact moment history is revealing how vital moral formation really is.

One of the lessons of this crisis is that help isn’t coming from some centralized place at the top of society. If you want real leadership, look around you.