Trump must control riots, or risk America
Let's be clear about one thing: The riots, civil unrest, and domestic terrorism happening all across the United States right now have about as much to do with the (frankly horrific) police killing of George Floyd as the Battle of the Somme had to do with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.
Yes, Floyd's killing may have lit the match, but what has taken place in the week since his death has taken on a momentum of its own far removed from the original complaint.
So why are these riots so bad this time around?
Some say that America, already anxious and aggravated and in many cases dead broke thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, was already on so much of an edge that anything could have set it off.
Others point to continuing complaints about police brutality. But not since Rodney King was beaten by the LAPD in 1992 has there been such a national wave of anger and violence.
But what if these riots were symptomatic of a deeper rot that has set in from the left, ever since 2016 when Donald Trump did the impossible and defeated Hillary Clinton?
It's no secret that ever since his election, large swathes of the American left, particularly in the cities, have regarded his presidency as illegitimate - not just because of bonkers and discredited theories about his being a Russian spy, but because this loudmouthed candidate of rural America was never supposed to rule over the country's sophisticated urban elites in the first place.
And, in the last few years, we have seen increasing street violence in places like Portland, Oregon, driven by a largely white, hard-left Marxist group calling itself Antifa - short for "Anti-Fascism", though their violent actions are anything but.
This would in no small part explain why over the past several days the faces of the protesters have become increasingly multiracial and privileged.
In New York City on the weekend, a 32 year old lawyer who graduated from Princeton and New York University was arrested for hurling a molotov cocktail at a police vehicle outside a Brooklyn station house.
Around the same time, a serial protester named Samantha Shader with a reported long history of left-wing activism was also arrested after she hurled another incendiary device at a cop car with four officers inside. Thankfully the device didn't go off, but she has been charged with four counts of attempted murder.
While neither of these individuals have been linked to Antifa, neither do their stories suggest that this is about rage of a poor and oppressed minority underclass finally lashing out at decades of mistreatment by the authorities.
It's also important to note that the protesters are being aided and abetted by city state officials across the country who have, wittingly or not, allowed these protests to turn into full-blown moral holidays leading to orgies of pointless violence.
These mayors and governors have done exactly the opposite of what one should do in the face of civil unrest - namely, crack down fast and hard, demonstrating that law and order still rules the day and those who act otherwise will be dealt with swiftly and sternly.
And while a few cities have finally started to impose curfews, it still feels like too little, too late.
The great tragedy is that these riots will only make things worse for the very people they were purported to help.
Cities can take decades to recover - if they ever do - from this sort of thing. Just look at Detroit, Michigan, or Newark, New Jersey: Who would want to sink capital or a lifetime's effort into a town where it could be all burned away in an instant?
Which is why it is so important for Donald Trump to be seen now to step in and do something.
For all the commentariat's usual complaints that the President has only acted to make things worse, apart from a few tweets we have seen very little from the Oval Office.
Yes, the move against Antifa, which is suspected to have organised many of the protests, is a good thing - and may lead to the prospect of some bad actors being slapped with federal charges, rather than being let off by soft touch local judges.
But the time is rapidly coming for Trump to address the people directly - and perhaps even invoke the Insurrection Act, which was beefed up after Hurricane Katrina and allows the president to send in the military to restore order when "domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order".
If he does so, he will reteach the left the lesson of 1968, which saw ordinary Americans fed up with racial violence and anti-American protests on their streets vote in Richard Nixon and his law and order platform.
If he doesn't, and this is left to fester, the great separation between America's feudal rich-and-poor cities and middle class suburban and rural America will only continue - with no telling where it might end.
All concerned should remember the old saying, be careful what you wish for.
Originally published as Trump must control riots, or risk America