Trump’s per­sonal cops take on the Wall of Moms

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - GENE LYONS eu­gene­lyons2@ya­

In Ge­orge Or­well’s clas­sic novel “1984,” mem­bers of the Outer Party stood in front of their tele­screens daily to re­vile Big Brother’s en­e­mies and ex­ult in his power. “Long live Boss Trump!”

Just so Fox News’ ex­cited cov­er­age of Portland, Ore­gon’s, Wall of Moms in their COVID-19 masks and bi­cy­cle hel­mets con­fronting Trump’s mer­ce­nar­ies in full com­bat gear. A sec­ond group call­ing them­selves Leaf-Blower Dads are us­ing lawn equip­ment to force tear gas bar­rages back in the faces of the storm troop­ers who fired them.

Clas­sic Amer­i­can in­ge­nu­ity, if you think about it. Also a re­minder that in Portland, the ma­jor­ity of dan­ger­ous, vi­o­lent “an­ar­chists” Boss Trump warns against are un­armed women and sub­ur­ban men with yards and garages who know their way around Home De­pot.

They sim­ply refuse to al­low an in­va­sion of Trump’s per­sonal Gestapo: para­mil­i­tary forces wear­ing no in­signia, with no badge num­bers or names, and ac­count­able to no­body.

Peo­ple are com­ing out in thou­sands to de­fend their com­mu­nity from an in­va­sion. There’s also a Wall of Vets, and Teach­ers Against Tyrants. That’s why Portland’s mayor, Ore­gon’s gov­er­nor and its two U.S. sen­a­tors have de­manded the fed­eral agents’ re­moval. They’d had the sit­u­a­tion un­der con­trol be­fore the troops ar­rived.

Which is not to nom­i­nate protest lead­ers for saint­hood. There are op­por­tunists and fools of ev­ery po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sion.

Also, his­tory teaches, provo­ca­teurs are all too will­ing to smash win­dows, loot and burn for pur­poses of their own. Dur­ing ri­ot­ing at the Chicago Demo­cratic con­ven­tion in 1968, some of the an­gri­est hot­heads turned out to be cops im­per­son­at­ing anti-Viet­nam War ac­tivists.

In Portland, how­ever, Boss Trump’s crow­ing about his agents tear-gassing Mayor Ted Wheeler as he ad­dressed protest marchers (“They knocked the hell out of him,” he boasted on Fox News) was re­ceived with con­tempt: the boast­ing of a flabby blowhard who’s hid­den be­hind body­guards all his life. He has ap­prox­i­mately the same chance of win­ning Ore­gon’s elec­toral votes as I do — and I’m not on the bal­lot.

If that of­fends you, dear reader, rid­dle me this: What would have been your re­ac­tion if a pha­lanx of anony­mous, masked fed­eral agents had as­saulted, say, a Tea Party demon­stra­tion dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion?

If you’re a con­ser­va­tive, your re­ac­tion might be like Paul Rosen­zweig’s, a ca­reer Repub­li­can who was one of Ken­neth Starr’s keen­est sleuths in the Great Bill Clin­ton Sex In­ves­ti­ga­tion. Writ­ing in The At­lantic, he ar­gued that in­vad­ing Portland “is a com­plete cor­rup­tion of con­ser­va­tive ideals. There is noth­ing con­ser­va­tive about un­con­sti­tu­tional po­lice ac­tiv­ity, and there is noth­ing con­ser­va­tive about uni­lat­eral fed­eral in­ter­ven­tion in state af­fairs. Those are the acts of an au­thor­i­tar­ian.”

Rosen­zweig and co-author Arthur Rizer also quote Tom Ridge, for­mer Repub­li­can gov­er­nor of Penn­syl­va­nia and sec­re­tary of Home­land Se­cu­rity un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush: DHS “was not es­tab­lished to be the pres­i­dent’s per­sonal mili­tia.”

See, while prat­ing about be­ing a “law and or­der pres­i­dent,” Trump is do­ing ev­ery­thing he can to pro­voke vi­o­lence, hop­ing it will frighten sub­ur­ban vot­ers into hold­ing Joe Bi­den some­how re­spon­si­ble — de­spite Bi­den’s his­tory as a pro-cop lib­eral through­out his long ca­reer. He’s also hop­ing to some­how dis­tract vot­ers from the 150,000 Amer­i­cans who have died be­cause of his neg­li­gence and in­com­pe­tence in deal­ing with the COVID-19 pan­demic.

Of course, when Richard Nixon suc­cess­fully played the “law and or­der” card in 1968, Lyn­don John­son was pres­i­dent. Nixon’s op­po­nent was Vice Pres­i­dent Hu­bert Humphrey. So far, polls show that Trump has had no suc­cess con­vinc­ing any­body out­side his hard­core base that oth­ers are re­spon­si­ble for the vi­o­lence he’s work­ing so hard to pro­voke.

But there are three months to go, and dis­cord is spread­ing across the coun­try. Seat­tle; Oak­land; Louisville; Aurora, Colorado, etc. Ri­val groups are car­ry­ing guns and itch­ing for a fight.

In Austin, a man car­ry­ing an AK-47 was shot to death by a man in a car sus­pected of try­ing to run civil rights marchers down. The mayor of Rich­mond, Vir­ginia, has al­leged that “white su­prem­a­cists march­ing un­der the ban­ner of Black Lives Mat­ter” vi­o­lently dis­rupted an oth­er­wise peace­ful protest.

The only things re­strain­ing Trump are his cow­ardice and fear of get­ting caught. “Rightly or wrongly,” writes my man Charles Pierce in Esquire, “this puts the re­spon­si­bil­ity on the pro­tes­tors them­selves . ... (I)t’s time for the burn­ing of po­lice sta­tions and other acts of vi­o­lence to stop. It’s time for folks to stop hurl­ing them­selves mind­lessly into the face of face­less law-en­force­ment.”

Way past time, ac­tu­ally. In Portland (and else­where), ac­tivists could foil Trump by sim­ply stag­ing demon­stra­tions some dis­tance from fed­eral prop­erty. Let the Trump Troop­ers gas each other. Ac­tivists need to shout down apos­tles of vi­o­lence and turn van­dals and ar­son­ists over to le­git­i­mate law en­force­ment.

Above all, em­u­late John Lewis, the great civil rights icon, who un­der­stood the folly of ri­ot­ing and the over­whelm­ing moral au­thor­ity of non­vi­o­lent mass re­sis­tance.


Women with the Moms United for Black Lives Mat­ter, for­merly called Wall of Moms, line up out­side a fed­eral court­house in Portland, Ore­gon, dur­ing a protest on Wed­nes­day night.

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