Here’s an astonishing thing: history has shown, over and over again, that sustained riots, when not abruptly ended by decisive governors, lead directly to regime change and violent revolutions. The weakness, indecision, and incompetence of governors leads to more death and destruction than the existing order would otherwise permit. Governors who make concessions to the rioters, whether implicitly or explicitly so, or who try to play politics with rioters, ultimately do not only lose their position; they are led to the scaffold. How does one get this message across to a world that has deliberately forgotten history? How does one spread the message of Carlyle’s The French Revolution to an audience that is willfully ignorant?
Four years ago a firebrand ran for office, posing as a passionate advocate for the working people, American citizens, and conservative values. He promised to ‘Make America Great Again’ and won in the face of overwhelming odds which included a hostile, fake news media and a class of entrenched political elites desperate to stop him, resorting even to spying on him and his campaign to ensure that even in victory he would be an illegitimate leader. None of this was completely unique. His energy and a detailed knowledge of the workings of fraud helped him follow in the path of the great Harry Truman, whose campaign was spied on by the FBI on behalf of Dewey and who faced a hostile press which famously declared after the election that ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’.
Part of the hostility can most likely be attributed to the fact that Donald Trump’s experience with fraud is something he shares with every university administrator and politician in the country, only he is better at it, more daring and more skillful than they are at their own games. In a deeply corrupt world, Trump humiliated the owners of political, economic, and so-called intellectual power, appealing to a base that they had long since forgotten in their race to trample on the rights of everyone else.
Then he did something incredible: he restored American prosperity by rolling back regulations, re-established American energy independence, forgot to start any new wars, pushed back against hostile regimes, and scared the living hell out of those who were inclined to perform terrorist acts under the previous administration of Osama ibn Obama. It would be foolish to argue that everything he did was bad, or wrong. In recent weeks alone he has achieved a major breakthrough in diplomacy that had eluded the last two presidents.
In January, it became clear that one of those hostile regimes had let a virus break out within its borders, and then let it spread to three continents in quick succession. Whether this virus was created in a laboratory or otherwise developed is beside the point, although it deserves to be noted that this is precisely what a totalitarian regime might do. The larger issue was that when it arrived here, and struck a population with gross and deeply sick lives, it killed and killed freely–and killed those who were often most inclined to blame everyone else for their problems. Last week Kamala Harris made the astonishing claim that the coronavirus death toll among minorities was a result of ‘systemic racism’–whatever the hell that means–ignoring the fact that the obesity rate among blacks is 49%, and the coronavirus kills obese people at much higher rates than it does normally proportioned people.
Obesity is, in fact, a choice. I was 270 lbs in high school. I’m tall–6’3″–and looked more like a linebacker than a lineman, but I was still obese. I’m not now. I’m a lean 185 lbs. I work hard to keep myself in shape. When I destroyed my foot three years ago, suffering a Lisfranc fracture with dislocation–the bases of the first four toes were broken when I fainted on a midnight bathroom run, my blood pressure plummeted and the torque from my then-190 lbs did the job–I made sure I was back on the basketball court before 6 months were out. I would definitely have had an excuse to get fat, and a much better one than the vast majority of our disgusting obese people. I chose otherwise.
The country shut down. Then George Floyd–with a rap sheet that has significantly more substantial content than Michelle Obama’s thesis, and with heavy amounts fentanyl and methamphetamines in his system–died in police custody in Minneapolis, with an idiot policeman sitting on his black neck for three minutes after it was clear he was already dead and therefore incapable of doing any harm to him. It’s likely that he died from the drug use, not from the restraints used to subdue him as he resisted being put into the police car.
Floyd’s death came on the heels of a shooting in Georgia where a suspected thief who happened to be black and who attempted to attack people with a gun was shot and killed for his troubles. It also came on the heels of a shooting in Kentucky where police were executing a no-knock warrant and were shot at, then fired with compete recklessness and contempt for human life and killed Breonna Taylor, whose boyfriend had fired the shot. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend had, of course, been a drug lord, as is the way of the black man; he was arrested yesterday.
This week, a man named Jacob Blake–proud 29-year-old black father of 6 kids–was shot in the back while running away from police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, who were called to his house for a domestic dispute and were told there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest, which (and it’s not clear if they knew this much about the specifics of the warrant) was for sexual assault and trespass. In Minneapolis, a black homicide suspect shot himself.
The results of these shootings, and the coronavirus lockdowns, have been a dramatic escalation in racial tensions in the United States, which began with nationwide riots after the Floyd shooting in May. In many places the riots calmed down; but in a few they have persisted, and the deaths this week–one self-inflicted and captured on video–have reignited them. In Portland and Seattle, rioters have not disbanded since the initial Floyd riots. In Washington, DC, rioters have attacked politicians and those who have attended political events which favor opposing viewpoints. In Kenosha, they have burned the city. In Minneapolis, they have burned and looted. In Chicago and New York, the riots have largely given way, largely due to concessions by the mayor which include defunding the police and which have resulted in massive upsurges in crimes, especially violent ones committed by blacks against other blacks. As the rioters chant the names of their martyrs, we would do well to remember that their martyrs were idiots, thugs, and villains, one and all–even Breonna Taylor, the so-called innocent EMT who dated a drug lord. It is highly questionable whether the concept of race entered into any of these situations. Black people have consistently shown an unwillingness to obey the laws and to adhere to the system of justice created to protect society from those who do as they have done. On top of the rioting, which they have consistently blamed on white supremacists, they have been in restaurants harassing white eaters and in residential streets with bullhorns harassing white residents.
These riots, and the political leaders who have explicitly encouraged them or conceded to them, have an eerie parallel to those of 1789 in France, and, going back further, to those of 1642 in England and Scotland. In both cases badly educated leaders of entrenched political elites sought to divert the riots to proceed against other targets by offering concessions. In both cases the king–one having studied the other thoroughly and not having learned much–failed to take decisive action against the rioters, failed to authorize the necessary use of force to quell the riots, and failed to protect not only their own citizens but themselves and their families from the eventual revolution that had already begun. The political leaders who made the concessions also eventually were killed, with very few exceptions, by those to whom they made them. Concessions don’t work.
The point could not be clearer. Weak and indecisive government is costly. In England the Civil War lasted form 1642 to 1649 and was followed by a period of attempted self-rule, and then the failed Protectorate of Cromwell, only to give way to the Restoration of 1660 in which the English invited Charles II back in exchange for amnesty for most of the remaining leaders of the war. In 18 years the English suffered much and built little; conditions in 1660 were not better than they were in 1642. In France the Revolution lasted from 1789 to 1795, then a series of governmental forms followed between 1795 and 1804, when Napoleon, if he existed at all, declared himself Emperor. Napoleon then lost a succession of wars and was ousted by the collective monarchies of Europe, who brought back the Bourbon dynasty in the form of Louis XVIII in 1814. Napoleon returned for 100 days in 1815, lost again, and Louis XVIII was reinstated. France, like England 150 years earlier, had spent 15 years in a succession of riots, revolution, anarchy, and dictatorship, and had regressed rather than progressed.
The solution to today’s problem is simple, but it requires someone who knows history to implement it, not someone who plays politics. It requires someone who doesn’t just put on a front of decisiveness and bravado, but who lives by principles that go beyond winning and losing elections and who believes that his citizens have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property, and that a government which cannot or will not protect those rights must be altered or abolished. In other words, it requires someone other than Donald Trump.
Here’s the solution: bring in the National Guard, first to Washington–remove the mayor by force of arms–then to the cities where rioting and large-scale crime are ongoing. In these cities, by which I mean New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, and Seattle, clear the streets, using all necessary force, without hesitation, shooting to kill anyone who disobeys. Then remove the mayors by force of arms. Go to the capitals of those states, and remove the governors by force of arms. And call off the election in November–postpone it until such a time as political conditions are suitable for multiple opinions to be expressed and challenged.
The cost of failure to do so will be monumental. If nothing else, the exposure of Donald Trump as weak and indecisive would undo the shit he scared out of Muslim terrorists. More likely, it would unleash devastation and havoc beyond what we have seen across the country, and lead to regime change, anarchy, and dictatorship by lending tacit and implicit sanction, even if unintended, to the rioters. By omitting the steps of anarchy and regime change our government can hold out a little longer, and give us all time to prepare for the great reckoning that is about to unfold.