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Retired general and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, call sign Chaos, denounced President Trump’s riot response in a statement published in The Atlantic, upon which of course ensued reciprocal disparaging comments. Was he right? Does his statement have merit? Here are takes from the Washington Times and The Hill, two news sources not considered full-blown Leftists. Following is Mattis’ full statement (bold emphases mine), and my take:
I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.
When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.
We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.
James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.
Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.
Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.
We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.
Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.
There was no executive abuse at Lafayette Square. From our own Ricochet Link Library group posted recently by @misthiocracy:
- a) They did not shoot tear gas at protesters. Those were merely smoke canisters.
- b) They did not know that the President was walking towards the church. Rather, the police were responding to being attacked with rocks.
Mattis refers to the nationwide rioting as “a small number of lawbreakers,” a patently untrue assertion in scope and effect on law-abiding Americans. A quick review of this website and listen to this podcast with genuine experts (CIA/police) illustrates how wrong Mattis is.
From President Trump’s Rose Garden remarks (on video here starting around 32:00) regarding nationwide rioting/looting/arson, calling Antifa domestic terrorists, he makes the following clear:
- He recognizes the injustice of George Floyd’s death, and the mob drowning out voices of peaceful protesters (who he specifically allies with).
- Some state/local governments have failed to protect Americans from rioting thugs; police were physically attacked and precinct overrun
- Military deployed when states do not protect their citizens until violence has been quelled, and in DC which was overwhelmed.
Donald Trump is the President in my lifetime whose actions display the most concern for law-abiding, working-class Americans. “Uniting” Americans, particularly under Obama, has meant allowing lawless groups such as Antifa to grow in strength and numbers to harm American lives and property. James Mattis’ accusation that current rioting is a consequence of Trump’s 3-1/2 years in office is unsubstantiated drivel I would have thought beneath a man supposedly fond of reading the classics. In case we were insufficiently alarmed at the danger Donald Trump poses to America, he invoked the Nazis like a properly woke deposed SecDef.
Just a guess, but I bet it was seeing military officers in a photo op that really bent James Mattis. Big whoop, nothing new in politics and certainly not a constitutional crisis. Dubya, who also recently saw fit to expound, had a rather famous photo op with some firemen and a bullhorn.
None of this, however, is why my respect for James Mattis is in the basement as of this little gem of a public statement. It’s impossible to fathom that a Marine general does not know insurrection when he sees it. I have heard him speak eloquently about befriending foreigners who want an end to strife. Yet in his statement, there is not one shred of compassion or recognition of the devastation Americans across the country have experienced at the hands of lawless rioters, looters, arsonists, and murderers.
Out of respect for what James Mattis has done for the US, I searched for and clicked on his statement to read with an open mind. I finished thinking it’s a good thing the man is no longer in charge of anything important, and disappointment that we can now add Chaos to the long list of diatribes we have seen and heard against the man who promised to protect Americans if their mayors/governors would not, and endless pronouncements as to the rights and privileges of “not-so-peaceful” protests.
One more thing I realized after reading Mattis: ordinary, independent thinking Americans are the best judge of when a politician goes too far, and this one will be speaking up if I see Trump taking the military where it should not go. Until then, as you were, General. A nice, cushy spot in a Leftist not-so-newsworthy organization should be opening up real soon if you want it.Published in