The Kenosha, Wisconsin, police department immediately took the officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times off the streets, as city, state and federal officials investigate what happened. They also made a speedy arrest of the 17-year-old who is charged with shooting two demonstrators dead.
Wedged between an incident of possible brutality against a black man and the need to curb right-wing violence, the police did their best. The last thing they needed was President Donald Trump fanning the anger of both unruly protesters and white supremacists clashing with them.
Both the Kenosha mayor and Wisconsin governor asked him to stay away and not make things worse. Of course, he ignored them.
In Portland, mass demonstrations have shrunk into a kind of gang warfare between the worst of the left and the worst of the right. So Trump tries to further inflame the situation by threatening to send the federal forces back into Portland, against the city's wishes.
"Your offer to repeat that disaster," wrote Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, "is a cynical attempt to stoke fear and distract us from the real work of our city." And it leaves Portland police with the miserable job of managing a bigger mess.
Donald Trump's America centers on daily arousal of public stress and anxiety, trapping our police departments in no-win confrontations. Inciting disorder in the streets is, of course, how he moves attention away from his spectacular failure during the coronavirus crisis.
Who said the following?
"The police are doing an impossible job. They're trying to deal with the protesters. They're trying to stop looting. And they're trying to keep themselves safe."
Answer: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Regarding the George Floyd video, James Rovella, former Hartford detective and now Connecticut's top cop, said, "If you wear a badge and aren't appalled by that what you saw, please turn it in and find a new profession; we don't need you."
This is the intersection of reality and decency. To repeat, the police have a very hard job, and most do it well. But some people should not be cops. These are not contradictory statements.
There is no justification for rioting or looting. Some of the current protests, however well meaning, do attract a criminal element that takes advantage of the chaos. They're also a magnet for mayhem tourism, whereby outsiders drive in to trash other people's downtowns.
Note that several black council members in New York City are infuriated by fringe-left calls to "defund" the police. Their neighborhoods sorely need good policing. The council's liberal majority leader, Laurie Cumbo of Brooklyn, called these demands "colonization" pushed by white progressives and the movement behind them "political gentrification." She's right.
The long game for those who want Trump gone is to refrain from staging emotionally fraught events that he can turn nasty. Do they really care to play extras in his extravaganzas, all designed to portray some ugly skirmishes as an America in flames?
Good Americans who put Black Lives Matter signs on lawns would do well to add Blue Lives Matter signs -- and vice versa. Again, no contradiction here. (And in most urban police forces, many of the blue lives, the police, are African American.)
Joe Biden should continue to forcefully condemn violence whether by the right or the left. Running mate Kamala Harris, formerly California's top law enforcer, might express added support for police doing their impossible job.
Despite some troubling events on which Trump throws gasoline, the real America is not on fire. It is, however, sick -- hurtling toward 200,000 dead from a virus that has left the real economy in shambles. This is Donald Trump's America.
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