Whatever we might have learned about the messages conveyed by the heinous and despicable murder of George Floyd by a rogue white cop on the streets of Minneapolis last week has now been overwhelmed by the subsequent riots in cities across America and the weak response to them to the point of abdication of duty on the part of state and local governments. Let’s make this clear: these riots have absolutely nothing to do with whatever peaceful protests are being conducted by people who are genuinely grieved by this crime. These rioting thugs are organized, funded and often led by outside sources such as Antifa, and want nothing less than an overthrow of our system of government. They are domestic terrorists in every sense of the term and deserve a response to match, yet much of what we have seen in response has been woefully inadequate, even to the point of an unwillingness to call out the rioting and looting thugs for what they are for fear of being called racist. Some of the more “progressive” local leaders seem even to be confused about whose side they are on.
Newt Gingrich said it well–“civilizations must protect themselves”–and right now ours is not being protected by those responsible for its welfare. As Tucker Carlson noted, “when the mobs came, our leaders abandoned us and we need to pay attention to what is going on in this country”. A recent essay by Yuval Levin reminds us of Abraham Lincoln’s reverence for the rule of law and that, despite the injustices, no just society was possible without respect for basic social order. He further argued that even when the mob’s cause is understandable, their lawlessness is a grave danger, because ultimately they liberate “the lawless in spirit…to become the lawless in practice”, and then leave good citizens no choice but to become lawless in their own defense.
What is happening today is not a conventional riot. These people have a history. They are anarchists and anti-American revolutionaries and should be dealt with as such, on the streets as well as with the FBI and other sources of domestic intelligence to track down and bring to justice the rioters and the perpetrators and funders.
People will not for long put up with weakness in what is the primary obligation of leadership–to protect them from harm. “Law and order” is not a political term or racist and skin color is irrelevant. How President Trump responds to this war in our streets has now become more important than the Coronavirus pandemic in determining his re-election because our civilization is in the balance.
A number of commentators have compared this period of turmoil and uncertainty to 1968, and for those of you old enough to remember, that is probably an apt analogy. But when we get through this, and with bold and compassionate leadership I believe we will soon enough, it might be because we have remembered more of Lincoln, as in his first inaugural address and his appeal for solidarity:
“Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”