July 23, 2020 - Thursday
The Oregon Trail to Anarchy
July 23, 2020
When Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) decided to throw on a mask and join the protestors Wednesday night, he found out pretty quickly that it wasn't just Donald Trump they despised. "It didn't go well for Wheeler," one reporter kindly put it. Booed, chased with leaf blowers, taunted, and shouted down, the mayor looked bewildered when he said, "Some of these people hate my guts." For the mayor, whose spent the last 56 days defending his city's criminals, it was one way to learn: protecting the mobs won't appease them.
Wheeler, who was probably hoping for a hero's welcome when he joined the mayhem he's refused to contain, was barraged with R-rated chants instead. "I want to thank the thousands of you who have come out to oppose the Trump administration's occupation of this city," he tried to say over the hecklers. "I think what we're doing tonight is actually the best thing we can do right now." That's quite a statement, considering that "what they were doing" was trying to burn down the federal courthouse, start fires in the street, and smash through city barriers.
And, more importantly, what does this say about our elected officials that they're willing to join this effort? These mayors might as well be saying, "Can I light your Molotov cocktail?" Ordinary citizens, watching this violence escalate, have to be horrified. Instead of protecting people's homes and city property, "Dem officials are forming a protective circle around the mobs." And while leftists scream about Trump deploying "stormtroopers" and "Gestapo" to U.S. cities, it's hard to believe that given the choice between no protection and federal protection, everyday Americans would pick none.
"You can't have a bunch of anarchists every day trying to firebomb the Portland courthouse, federal courthouse, federal buildings," NRO's David Harsanyi told Sarah Perry on "Washington Watch." "I hate to break the news to people, but we have federal agents undercover all the time in this country," he said, "the FBI with the ATF [and] the whole U.S. Marshal service. They make it sound as if this is some crazy idea that federal police officers show up anywhere. It happens all the time. In fact, many, many times when there's some sort of racial crime, you have cities calling for federal help..." The difference here is, these mayors in Portland, Seattle, and Chicago are sympathetic to the cause. "But if these were [alt-Right extremists] doing this, you can bet that they'd have called in the federal troops a long time ago."
If you want to sit out there all night and chant, David said, that's one thing. "But that's not what's happening here... I really don't know how to stress enough that [this] is not okay... A mayor can't simply hand the city over to a bunch of people just because they're mad about something... It's illegal, and it's violent, and people can die or get hurt."
To those who would say this is some sort of federal overreach, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy fired back, "It is Trump's constitutional duty to enforce federal law, and he should." He doesn't even need to ask the states' permission, McCarthy insists. Besides, he went on, "Federal officers in Portland are not a military force. They are deputized law enforcement agents of the Department of Homeland Security and other federal police agencies."
Meanwhile, dozens of retired flag officers, led by FRC's Lt. General Jerry Boykin, published an open letter in the Washington Times, reiterating their support for the president's actions and insist that the failure of local leaders has left him with no choice. "We fervently hope and pray that state and local authorities will promptly restore law and order should there be further outbreaks of rioting. But if not, President Trump has the authority to take extraordinary measures under such circumstances," they wrote. Using the military would be a last resort, they agree, but eleven presidents have done so.
For now, even the Portland police is desperate for someone -- anyone -- to speak out. "Condemn the violence and the burning, looting, and destruction of property," Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner challenged city officials. "Stand up and defend Portland," they demanded. And if you can't, don't pick a fight with the president. Because so far, he's the only one trying.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.