Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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Paul Krugman: Trump Takes Us to the Brink
Will weaponized racism destroy America?
Last fall Bob Kroll, the head of the Minneapolis police union, appeared at a Trump rally, where he thanked the president for ending Barack Obama’s “oppression of police” and letting cops “put the handcuffs on criminals instead of us.”
The events of the past week, in which the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody led to demonstrations against police brutality, and these demonstrations were met by more police brutality — including unprecedented violence against the news media — have made it clear what Kroll meant by taking the handcuffs off. And Donald Trump, far from trying to calm the nation, is pouring gasoline on the fire; he seems very close to trying to incite a civil war.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that America as we know it is on the brink.
How did we get here? The core story of U.S. politics over the past four decades is that wealthy elites weaponized white racism to gain political power, which they used to pursue policies that enriched the already wealthy at workers’ expense.
Until Trump’s rise it was possible — barely — for people to deny this reality with a straight face. At this point, however, it requires willful blindness not to see what’s going on.
Eugene Robinson: We are the governed. We no longer consent to let the police kill us.
This coast-to-coast uprising is not about terrorism, foreign or domestic. It’s not about arson, looting or carpeting streets with broken glass. It’s about a powerful phrase in the Declaration of Independence: “the consent of the governed.” Police in this country no longer have our consent to kill African Americans unjustly and with impunity.
Is that clear now?
What’s striking about the protests over the killing of George Floyd is not just the intensity of the anger the protesters express but how widely that anger has spread. Citizens have held demonstrations, marches and vigils in more than 60 cities across the country and in nearly every state. And in the week since a Minneapolis police officer ended Floyd’s life by kneeling on his neck, as Floyd pleaded “I can’t breathe,” passions have not diminished. If anything, crowds have become more ardent.
To me, this feels less and less like just another iteration of the set-piece drama we’ve lived through so many times — an unjust killing, a few days of protest, a chorus of promises of reform, a return to normal, an all-too-brief interlude until the next unjust killing. This eruption feels like a potential inflection point, a collective decision that “normal” is no longer acceptable.
That message is being delivered in every major American city. Whether it is being heard and understood remains to be seen.
Trump puts himself above the law, but encourages police to assault anyone who objects to his criminal regime
Despite headlines and news reports replete with loaded terms like “looting” and “riots,” the real story of this past weekend was not the behavior of people on the streets protesting police violence. It was a story of numerous local police departments, emboldened by a wannabe fascist president, turning brownshirt against the ordinary people they are supposedly there to serve and protect. Make no mistake about it: This is a police uprising against American citizens. That’s the true narrative.
As my colleagues at Salon spent the weekend documenting, the police assaulted, arrested, shot and gassed journalists, and even ran over peaceful protesters in an outburst of rage at the public for objecting to unchecked police power. In doing so, they were, egged on by Donald Trump. Police in Minneapolis set the tone by using tear gas against peaceful protesters on Tuesday, and ever since cops across the country have been doing everything they could to shift the headlines away from “protest” to “riots” by attacking protesters until they fight back or turn to property destruction.
Meanwhile, Trump isn’t even bothering to hide that this is is more exciting to him than a fourth trophy wife and a barrelful of Viagra. He kicked things off early by encouraging police violence with a tweet promising “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a direct quote from a notorious Miami police chief of the 1960s. He spent the weekend spooning out more turgid and sadistic tweets cheering on police brutality and calling for “Law & Order” against “Radical Left Anarchists,” even though it was the cops who were roaming through neighborhoods shooting rubber bullets at people who were often doing nothing but sitting on their porches.
Part of this is the unsavory fact that Trump gets off on violent, racist fantasies, even though he’s personally a coward who likes to hide behind others willing to do the hard work of actually assaulting people. Another part of it is that Trump thinks or hopes this is his political Hail Mary, that could distract the voters from 40 million unemployed and more than 106,000 dead from COVID-19.
Michelle Goldberg: The de Blasio Disappointment
He began with such progressive promise. Now it’s in tatters.
On Saturday, during the demonstrations sparked by George Floyd’s killing, two New York Police Department SUVs drove into a crowd of protesters in Brooklyn who were pelting them with projectiles. The cars knocked several people over. In aerial footage, the road behind the vehicles was mostly clear — it looked as if they could have backed up instead.
It was one of several scenes of New York Police Department violence caught on video over the last several days. On Friday, State Senator Zellnor Myrie of Brooklyn, who told my colleagues he went to a protest to try to serve as a mediator with the police, was pepper-sprayed and arrested. Video showed a police officer violently shoving a young woman to the ground; she ended up in the hospital. The next day, a cop approached a young black man who was standing with hands in the air, yanked down his mask and pepper-sprayed him. [..]
But late Saturday night, addressing the unrest in New York, de Blasio seemed to see the confrontations almost entirely through the eyes of law enforcement. “I’m not going to blame officers who were trying to deal with an absolutely impossible situation,” he said of the cops in the two SUVs. The next day he called for an investigation into the incident, but praised the N.Y.P.D. for showing “tremendous restraint.” It took him until Monday to forcefully condemn it. [..]
What happened? In part, it could just be a shift in perspective. The mayor has an obvious interest in keeping order, and some of the protests have devolved into looting and vandalism. But in several cases it’s the police who have instigated violence. If de Blasio has been reluctant to call them out, perhaps it’s because he’s been subdued by years of unremitting police hostility.
The mayor’s relationship with the N.Y.P.D. has been poisonous almost from the beginning, and now he’s caught between the demands of his base and a police force whose cooperation he needs. His mayoral legacy, already badly damaged by his handling of the pandemic, is collapsing.
President Trump somehow imagined it was a good idea to unleash law enforcement on peaceful demonstrators before the 7 p.m. curfew Monday night as he stepped into the Rose Garden to give a knockoff version of Richard M. Nixon’s “law and order” message.
The president who called NFL protesters peacefully taking a knee “sons of bitches,” lied when he declared that he is a friend of peaceful demonstrators. The police firing rubber bullets and launching tear gas at protesters in Lafayette Square in front of the White House said otherwise. Then, as if the scene was not evidence enough of his desire to raise the level of violence, he pledged to deploy the U.S. military on U.S. soil, against U.S. civilians, if governors did not heed his incendiary advice to fill the streets with National Guard troops. It was later revealed that Trump instigated the assault on protesters specifically to make a gesture of walking to St. John’s church.
Nothing could be more representative of the dangerous narcissism of a president in over his head, resorting to threats of violence against a country he ostensibly is supposed to lead. The deliberate instigation of violence for his own photo op tells Americans how deeply twisted and deformed his character is.