The political communication genius who speaks the media language of the extreme right launched yesterday a police onslaught against peaceful protesters outside the White House to serve as a background image to his message of “law and order.” Regarding the live images of the police charge, with batons and tear gas, Trump announced that he was sending “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement to stop the riots, looting, vandalism, assaults and senseless destruction of the property”.
The apocalyptic image of Mad Max with which Trump was crowned presidential candidate at the Republican Party convention was thus made reality on television screens. The president still plans to shake the hornet’s nest further in this election year in which reelection is at stake. “If any city or state refuses to take the necessary actions to defend the life and property of its residents, I will deploy the US Army and quickly solve the problem for them,” he warned.
It was the first time in modern history that a US president threatened to launch the Army against his own people, thus opening another constitutional crisis that the courts will have to resolve if he comes to consummate his threat. The US Constitution prevents the use of active troops within the country except for disaster support purposes, for which it is usually intended for National Guard reservists. The president plans to unearth an old law of 1807 on the insurrection to legally justify his actions.
The declaration of war against his own people, designed to magnify his figure in front of the white and evangelical bases, ended with another apocalyptic image worthy of Hollywood. Flanked by his Justice Minister and National Security Advisor, Trump traversed Lafayette Park to St. John’s Church, propped up with planks after a basement fire, to pose on camera with the Bible in hand. “We have the best country in the world and we will keep it safe,” he promised.
In a voice trembling with outrage, the Reverend Marianne Budde, Episcopalian Bishop of the Diocese of Washington DC, said she had not “even” received a courtesy call from the White House to inform her that the President was going to fire tear gas at protesters to break through to one of their churches and “use it as props,” he said, “holding a Bible that declares God is love, when all he has said and done is inflame violence.”
Trump, an expert at finding scapegoats, blamed anarchists and anti-fascist organizations for instigating the violence and threatened the organizers with “severe criminal penalties and long prison terms.” Erected in the heavy hand that the most frightened citizens seek, the president promised to restore and unload “the full weight of the law” on the organizers of the riots. “We cannot give in to anger,” he ordered. “Each governor must deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers to dominate the streets,” he insisted. “Mayors and governors have to establish an overwhelming presence until the violence has been quelled.”
Emboldened by his words, white supremacists took to the streets of Philadelphia last night armed with iron bars and baseball bats to face the protesters for themselves. In a previous call with the governors, Illinois JB Pritzker had reminded the president that his attitude further fanned the flames of the confrontation, but Trump is allergic to criticism. “I also don’t like how you have acted with the coronavirus,” he countered.
With this new gasoline spray, the night was hot in the main cities of the United States under curfew. In New York, where Trump could give a show of force without paying a political price, since it is a democratic state that does not aspire to win, the looting continued last night without its governor Andrew Cuomo agreeing to activate the military reservists. “Whoever thinks this is fixed by force has not understood the problem,” he resisted. “The president has used the armed forces and gassed peaceful protesters to mount a photo.” Senator Kamala Harris, whose name is shuffled for vice president with Joe Biden, ended up putting the caption on the image recreated by Trump. “These are not the words of a president, they are the words of a dictator,” he stoned.