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Teetering on the edge of fascism


How close did we come to having the US military used to violently crush the overwhelmingly peaceful protests that took place in the wake of George Floyd’s murder last summer? Apparently, pretty close:

White House aides prepared a draft proclamation last June to invoke the Insurrection Act as then-President Donald Trump debated deploying active-duty US soldiers in response to protests after the death of George Floyd, The New York Times reported Friday, citing two senior Trump administration officials.

The aides put together the proposed proclamation on June 1, 2020, the Times reports, the same day that protesters were forcefully cleared from Lafayette Park — a park across the street from the White House traditionally used for peaceful protests and demonstrations — just prior to Trump’s controversial photo op at St. John’s Church, where he held up a Bible after he had declared himself the “law and order” President.

At the time, a livid Trump made clear to then-top Cabinet members Attorney General William Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff Mark Milley that he wanted active members of the military to patrol the streets in DC, an official told the Times.

They were able to persuade him not to do that, the paper reported, and Trump ultimately did not invoke the act. But, according to the Times, aides inside the White House prepared a ready-to-go document in case the situation outside the White House escalated, and Trump knew the proclamation had been drafted.

Trump denied to the Times that he had wanted to deploy the military in the nation’s capital. “It’s absolutely not true and if it was true, I would have done it,” he told the paper. [EDIT: All such stories should note as a matter of routine journalistic practice that Donald Trump is a compulsive liar whose word on anything is quite literally worthless].

The Times reporting comes a day after CNN obtained excerpts from a new book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender that say Milley, the top US general, repeatedly pushed back on Trump’s argument that the military should intervene violently to quell the civil unrest that erupted around the country last year. According to the excerpts, Milley often found he was the lone voice of opposition to those demands during heated Oval Office discussions.

We should take a moment here to recall that the editor of the nation’s most important editorial page chose this particular historical moment to give a United States senator a platform to advocate doing exactly this. Of course this heroic act in the defense of the First Amendment right to publish fascist propaganda in the New York Times caused him to be cancelled, probably by Critical Race Theory, which nobody had ever heard of at the time, but which now explains everything that happens in America that the right wing doesn’t like.

Normalcy and optimism biases are very powerful things. The fact that Joe Biden squeaked out a win in the Electoral College, because Republican state governments were not yet ready to simply steal the election — as they would absolutely do today under similar circumstances — and the fact that Congress certified that victory — as it almost certainly will fail to do so if it is controlled by the GOP after a Democratic presidential win three years from now — are both taken by the vast majority of both the public and the media as proof that “the system worked.”

The system remains on the edge of being overwhelmed by a fascist movement, in the the guise of the Republican party. That no respectable person will just come right out and say this, while fascist enablers throughout the media claim that anybody who does state this simple and obvious truth is being hysterically hyperbolic, is a little bit of a problem.

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