Is There No Line The President Won’t Cross?

New Orleans   This is not a schoolyard fight. This is not a street corner yelling match. These are statements from the President of the United States who is expected to set a moral and political course for the country and its people. To equivocate, retract, and then double down in his support of violence, racism, and antisemitism is unconscionable.

And, it matters. Buried in one of the tens of articles about these outrages in the New York Times was this “bulletin” from North Carolina, which is outrageous, but clearly of a piece with the president’s position.

…Cooper [Governor of North Carolina] also said the Legislature should defeat a bill, which has passed the State House and is pending in the Senate, that would grant immunity to drivers who hit protesters. The bill was introduced before the car attack at the demonstration in Charlottesville. ‘Those who attack protesters, weaponizing their vehicles like terrorists, should find no save haven in our state,’ Mr. Cooper said.”

What are they saying? Are they inviting the Charlottesville killer to drive and kill in North Carolina? I’m not pulling your leg. This was really printed in the Times, and was really passed by the elected House of Representatives in the North Carolina legislature. It is unbelievable that any group of elected officials of any persuasion would ever given “immunity” to the kind of tragedy which we just witnessed in Charlottesville, killing one and injuring a score of people. It’s one thing to outlaw all protests, which I’m sure some of them have considered as well, but to say that it should be allowable for cars to be deliberately driven into crowds of protesters with the intent to injure, maim, and kill on a free pass, get-out-of-jail card, is unimaginable, despite the fact that it is true.

This is the kind of politics that Trump is legitimizing.

Clearly, he can’t control himself, but, as clearly, he must be controlled.

Seemingly not by top business executives who must understand how their brands, businesses, and customers are hurt by such divisiveness and violence. Yes, five business people and two labor leaders have resigned from the American Manufacturing Council and three have left the Strategy and Policy Forum over different issues, but that’s out of 45 active seats, so 38 remain in a hall of silence and shame. The head of Walmart criticized the President, but insisted he was going to stay on the council, which gives the President the equivalent of a 5-yard penalty for off-sides, while he continues to take the team towards the same goal line.

Since there seems to be no line that President Trump won’t cross, no truth that he will embrace, or unity that he is able to support, what will it finally take for all of us collectively to determine that we now must draw the line, and force him behind it?


Guns Have No Place at a Protests

White Nationalists in full military gear in Charlottesville  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

New Orleans    Let’s spend a minute looking for some silver lining in the dark clouds that have arisen from the horror of Charlottesville before moving to the harder questions.

Cities have sprung into action in Nashville, Jacksonville (Florida), Annapolis (Maryland), and Lexington (Kentucky) to move forward on removing controversial Confederate statuary. In Durham, North Carolina, one-hundred protesters tied a rope around a statute of an unnamed Confederate solider and toppled it, Sadam-style. Rallies have been canceled at Texas A&M.

World leaders have come together to condemn the hate and violence of right-wing extremists. Republicans and Democrats across the aisle have joined in their condemnation of these groups. Attorney-General Sessions labeled them terrorists.

That’s about it for the silver lining, since a lot of the rest is still clouds, as well as some thunderstorms, including the pouting and petulant Trump, pulled back to the White House to make a seemingly begrudging statement of condemnation several days late. He then, as usual, showed his true colors by Twitter-tacking the African-American head of the Merck drug company for having the good sense and courage to resign for one of his showboat, do-nothing advisory committees.

I’ve got to admit as horrible as all of this has been and as disturbing as the pictures from Charlottesville have seemed, I’m most unsettled seeing all of the prominent displays of guns and assault weapons. Open carry law, permits, whatever, guns have no place at a demonstration, especially one like this. There’s a time bomb ticking before we will have to read – or worse, witness – some hothead, on one side or another, who believes he is being threatened, and claims he has to “defend” himself or herself, and starts firing. People will die.

It wasn’t so long ago when the police in Dallas were quoted publicly on this very problem. When someone went rouge and began killing police there last year in the wake of a Black Lives Matter protest, the Chief and other Dallas department spokespeople who where interviewed talked openly about how difficult it was to respond when they had to sort out who were the friendlies versus the baddies since so many were carrying guns.

In Charlottesville the police are coming in for criticism for essentially letting the two sides seemingly “fight it out,” rather than preemptively separating all sides, which they did in the New Orleans statue removal dispute very effectively, or stepping in more aggressively to stop the outbreak. I wonder if all of the guns were a factor. Photos in the newspapers yesterday showed demonstrators wearing full combat gear and arms. Today’s papers had pictures of the an antifa or antifascist group also strapped down with assault weapons. Cornell West was quoted crediting them in providing safe passage for himself and other ministers when the antifa created a perimeter for their exit. Were police tactics influenced by the display of gun play on all sides?

Who knows, but I know one thing for sure. Guns have no place in protests. The mere presence of guns is chilling and restricts the participation of citizens on all sides. A permit to carry should not include public demonstrations of any kind. Police need to be charged to disarm, to lock, and to unload. This is a tragedy waiting to happen, and demands action now. The second amendment does not trump freedom of speech and assembly when the gun is weaponized and not symbolic.

How is this not common sense?