“Washington residents have also been confronted with a number of other heavily armed law enforcement officers who share an unexpected characteristic: Neither their affiliation nor their personal identities are discernible,” The Washington Post reports.
* * *
The added danger, “It’s not uncommon for civilians to dress in paramilitary gear and show up at the protests, often doing so as self-appointed assistants to police and other law enforcement officials.”
“You can have this weird thing where you have these militia group guys just dressed up in their gear, which they like to do anyway, show up and just start pushing protesters around,” Watts said. “And if you’re a protester, you don’t know if you have to respond to this person.”
Donald Trump has cast aside all pretense and is not even trying to pretend anymore. The Trump-Pence campaign is raising its own “Trump Army” to go to war against the “liberal mobs,” i.e., anyone who opposes their authoritarian takeover of the United States. This is a call to arms to the heavily armed right-wing “patriot” (sic) militias who have long fantasized about a civil war, make no mistaking about the meaning of this coded message to supporters.
Hunter at Daily Kos reports, Trump campaign now rallying a brownshirt ‘Army’ on Trump’s behalf:
Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake published the Trump/Pence campaign’s latest “FOR PATRIOTS ONLY” email. In it, the campaign says it is assembling a “Trump Army.” It is unconcerned with subtlety, directly extending Trump’s own calls for, as he put it, “Second Amendment” responses to Americans protesting police violence. The “President,” you see, is raising a brownshirt army:
“The President wants YOU and every other member of our exclusive Trump Army to have something to identify yourselves with, and to let everyone know that YOU are the President’s first line of defense when it comes to fighting off the Liberal MOB.”
During any period when a sitting president had not already encouraged his base, from the White House Rose Garden, to arm themselves and perhaps start shooting at other Americans, [see also Fox News urges viewers to make citizen’s arrests: Take “zip ties and subdue some of these people”], this emailed exhortation would be seen as merely crass. Today, at this moment, it is self-evident that Trump supporters who receive this email will be further convinced that they are an “Army,” that they are Trump’s “first line of defense,” and that they should prepare for “fighting off” not attackers, not rioters, not even looters, but “Liberals.”
The last line, imploring Trump’s collection of paranoid Americans to “not pass this information on to anyone,” is further meant to fire off conspiracy synapses.
Trump/Pence 2020: We’re Raising A Private Army.
To attack liberals. “Metaphorically,” the campaign will assuredly insist (again) when confronted.
The media should not be enablers of this false denial. They are deadly serious.
This is not happening in a vacuum. In addition to Sen. Tom Cotton’s latest treason against America, other Trump defenders are calling for violence against liberals.
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) June 4, 2020
Trump’s calls for far-right, “Second Amendment” militia action are already bearing fruit. Three Nevada extremists are now in custody on terrorism charges after being arrested “on the way to a protest in downtown Las Vegas after filling gas cans at a parking lot and making Molotov cocktails in glass bottles,” part of a plan to cause violence in Las Vegas protests that could be blamed on supposed “antifa” groups.
On Tuesday, a uniform-wearing, heavily armed man was arrested in Los Angeles for impersonating a National Guard soldier and attempting to blend in with security teams.
More: Armed Counterprotesters Are Menacing BLM Rallies Across America (The Daily Beast); Heavily armed anti-government extremists are showing up at protests (CNN); Gun-Toting Members of the Boogaloo Movement Are Showing Up at Protests (CNN); White Nationalist Group Posing as Antifa Called for Violence on Twitter (NBC News);
Report: Over 100 Militant Groups Have Been Promoting Second Civil War on Facebook (Gizmodo); White instigators to blame for mayhem in some protests, local officials say; also see Feds Never Mention ‘Antifa’ in Protest Violence Prosecutions.
That last one is especially noteworthy because Washington, D.C., is currently being occupied by large groups of unidentified “federal” officers refusing to identify themselves and wearing a hodgepodge of unmarked, different uniforms and gear. Many have been inferred to be Bureau of Prisons riot teams called up by Attorney General William Barr and ordered to not reveal their federal department; in the mix of not-uniforms, however, it would be trivial for any militia-minded paramilitary person or group to wander D.C., armed, to impersonate federal officers and take violent action on their own initiative.
We are in a true moment of fascism. Fox News and other Trump allies are calling for the military occupation of America, over objections of individual states. Retired military officers are coming forward to give the boldest warnings they know how. [Max Boot, The retired generals are defending America from our greatest threat: The president; Jennifer Rubin, Revolt of the generals]. Trump has now ordered at least one attack on peaceful protesters for the sole reason of gaining media coverage for that attack on live television. Far-right militias are mobilizing. The Republican-controlled Senate has already nullified itself, giving explicit permission for overt criminal behavior from “their” president if it is in service to his reelection, and therefore their own power.
And Donald Trump’s campaign, filled with the dregs of criminal-minded scum that the Trump team could not plausibly put in even his ramshackle administration, is fundraising by selling camouflage-styled merchandise meant to identify wearers as members of an official “Trump Army,” one that is the “line of defense when it comes to fighting off” liberalism.
By which they mean Black Americans and anyone allied with them—anyone who is currently defying Trump, on any street, for any reason.
The letter from veteran attorney and former Trump lawyer John Dowd appears to be addressed to former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and rebuts Mattis’ Wednesday statementcastigating Trump’s response to the nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
“The phony protesters near Lafayette were not peaceful and are not real,” Dowd’s letter claimed, without citing any evidence. “They are terrorists using idle hate filled students to burn and destroy. They were abusing and disrespecting the police when the police were preparing the area for the 1900 curfew.”
The letter drew condemnation from the Modern Military Association of America, a nonprofit organization for the LGBTQ military and veteran community.
“Donald Trump just crossed a very serious line that demands swift and forceful condemnation by every Member of Congress,” said the group’s interim executive director, Air Force veteran Jennifer Dane. “Promoting a letter that labels American citizens peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights as ‘terrorists’ is an egregious breach of his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Now more than ever, it is absolutely crucial that Trump be held accountable for his reckless actions.”
During an appearance on CNN on Friday morning, former Defense Secretary William Cohen denounced Donald Trump in no uncertain terms. William Cohen: Republican Senators Must Speak Out Against Trump:
Former Republican U.S. Sen. and Secretary of Defense William Cohen of Maine denounced President Donald Trump’s use of the military in Washington, D.C., earlier this week to clear the way for a photo-op, and said current Republican senators are derelict in their duty for not criticizing his leadership.
In and interview with CNN, Cohen said current Republican senators have a duty to speak out when President Trump abuses his powers, such as using federal troops to clear the way for his photo-op across the street from the White House.
“What I see taking place is the White House engaging in fairly menacing activity, leading us down a trail towards a dictatorship where it is only the law or rule, not the rule of law,” he said.
Cohen said the president’s use of federal troops is politicizing the military, and that is wrong. He said he found it offensive that Trump would use troops in that way, and said when he was nominated to be Secretary of Defense, he and President Bill Clinton had an agreement that Cohen would never be called on to politicize the military.
“I find it very offensive that he would use our military to fire rubber bullets or mace or other pepper spray into the eyes of innocent people in order to get a photo-op. That’s not a commander in chief, that’s a dictator in chief,” he said.
Cohen said he agreed with former Defense Secretary James Mattis in his strong rebuke of Trump’s leadership.
It is a time for choosing: you are either for the democratic Republic of America that we all know and love, or you are for the fascist wannabe dictator Donald Trump who wants to take this country into a very dark place.
In a lengthy historical analysis of how Europe descended into fascism in the 20th Century and the post-war division of Europe, drawing parallels to today’s complicit Republican enablers of Donald Trump, Anne Applebaum at The Atlantic explains History Will Judge the Complicit (excerpt):
To the american reader, references to Vichy France, East Germany, fascists, and Communists may seem over-the-top, even ludicrous. But dig a little deeper, and the analogy makes sense. The point is not to compare Trump to Hitler or Stalin; the point is to compare the experiences of high-ranking members of the American Republican Party, especially those who work most closely with the White House, to the experiences of Frenchmen in 1940, or of East Germans in 1945, or of Czesław Miłosz in 1947. These are experiences of people who are forced to accept an alien ideology or a set of values that are in sharp conflict with their own.
Not even Trump’s supporters can contest this analogy, because the imposition of an alien ideology is precisely what he was calling for all along. Trump’s first statement as president, his inaugural address, was an unprecedented assault on American democracy and American values. Remember: He described America’s capital city, America’s government, America’s congressmen and senators—all democratically elected and chosen by Americans, according to America’s 227-year-old Constitution—as an “establishment” that had profited at the expense of “the people.” “Their victories have not been your victories,” he said. “Their triumphs have not been your triumphs.” Trump was stating, as clearly as he possibly could, that a new set of values was now replacing the old, though of course the nature of those new values was not yet clear.
Almost as soon as he stopped speaking, Trump launched his first assault on fact-based reality, a long-undervalued component of the American political system. We are not a theocracy or a monarchy that accepts the word of the leader or the priesthood as law. We are a democracy that debates facts, seeks to understand problems, and then legislates solutions, all in accordance with a set of rules. Trump’s insistence—against the evidence of photographs, television footage, and the lived experience of thousands of people—that the attendance at his inauguration was higher than at Barack Obama’s first inauguration represented a sharp break with that American political tradition. Like the authoritarian leaders of other times and places, Trump effectively ordered not just his supporters but also apolitical members of the government bureaucracy to adhere to a blatantly false, manipulated reality. American politicians, like politicians everywhere, have always covered up mistakes, held back information, and made promises they could not keep. But until Trump was president, none of them induced the National Park Service to produce doctored photographs or compelled the White House press secretary to lie about the size of a crowd—or encouraged him to do so in front of a press corps that knew he knew he was lying.
The lie was petty, even ridiculous; that was partly why it was so dangerous.
[T]he point … was not to convince people of a falsehood. The point was to demonstrate the party’s power to proclaim and promulgate a falsehood. Sometimes the point isn’t to make people believe a lie—it’s to make people fear the liar.
If you have time this weekend, I recommend you read this important essay.
Call your senators and demand to know how they choose: America, or dictator Donald Trump. And tell them history will judge the complicit.