Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Fire Devil

Memorial Day this year was particularly poignant.  There was a keen sense of sadness and regret in the pungent political atmosphere.  By the end of May, in less than 60 days, over 100,000 Americans had their walk on this earth cut short because of the ineptitude of the UNPOTUS.

But days before, on May 25th, George Floyd, a 46 year old Houston raised black man died in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white Florida born police officer who votes Republican by mail in Florida even though he lives in Minnesota, assisted by three other officers, pressed his knee onto the neck of Floyd, depriving Floyd of oxygen to his brain for almost nine minutes while he was handcuffed and lying face down on the street. His pulse was gone by the 8th minute.

It had been reported by a merchant that Floyd passed a bad 20 dollar bill.

Video taken by onlookers was both terrifying and excruciating.

Within days, this video became viral, and with other shootings of innocent black men and women in recent weeks, the spark of outrage found the dry kindling of despair, and the great flames of injustice and anger  arose from the streets and souls of all men and women of conscience.

As the protest spread from Minneapolis to LA, Atlanta, Houston, and DC, peaceful daytime protests morphed into nighttime looting and burning as right wing white power groups sought to infiltrate and exacerbate the anger and tension in order to fulfill their mission of fomenting the coming race war they zealously anticipate.

And then on the 29th, the UNPOTUS pulled his tweeter out.  This from the National Post:

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Friday to stop looters in Minneapolis with deadly military force, after that city weathered a third night of arson and rioting over the police killing of an unarmed black man.

Some congressional Democrats denounced as racist Trump’s Twitter threat, which called the looters “THUGS” and warned “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter for the first time hid the Trump tweet behind a warning banner that accused the president of “glorifying violence.”

Readers could not like or share it either.

As former Republican operative Steve Schmidt said, "never has a leader failed history's test" as this president has.

“He is calling for violence against American citizens during a moment of pain for so many. I’m furious, and you should be too,” Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden said.

U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, one of the most liberal voices in Congress, took a harsher tone: “The Impeached President is a violent white supremacist.

If you don't read German, our allies across the Atlantic at Der Speigal have another name for him.

The Fire Devil.

The translation is: “The Fire Devil: A president sets his country on fire.”

Here in America, cartoonists drew the obvious caricatures of Trump pouring gasoline on a fire. Military Generals, including the former Secretary of Defense have come out from hiding. James Mattis describes him as a threat to the Constitution:

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “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.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.

When asked about it, the Republican enablers in the Senate remarked that they were Late for Lunch.

I've been reading a little book called On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. It's an easy read but hard on the digestion.  In his twenty lessons from the 20th century, he reminds us to Do Not Obey in Advance; To Defend Institutions; to be Wary of Paramilitaries; to Take responsibility for the Face of the World; to Investigate; to Believe in Truth; to Establish a Private Life; to Listen for Dangerous Words, and to Be Calm When the Unthinkable Arrives.

"On Feb 27th, 1933, at about 9:00 PM the building housing the German Parliament, the Reichstag, began to burn.  Gazing with pleasure at the flames that night, Hitler said: "this fire is just the beginning."  The next day a decree suspended the basic rights of all German citizens allowing them to be "preventively detained" by the police.  On the strength of Hitler's claim that the fire was the work of Germany's enemies, the Nazi Party won a decisive victory in the March 5th elections.  On March 23, the new Parliament passed an enabling act, which allowed Hitler to rule by decree. (Clipped)

Germany then remained in a state of emergency for the next 12 years until the end of World War II and the destruction of the regime and much of the World.

So, it's easy to see how the German viewpoint on setting things on fire would have some merit.

Snyder's last chapter is to Be As Courageous As You Can.

We will need to work on that.

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