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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New York Times Editorial Board: Mayor de Blasio, Open Your Eyes. The Police Are Out of Control.
This is not what serving and protecting should look like.
Hundreds of protesters walked toward Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn on Wednesday night around 9 o’clock. Encountering a line of New York City police officers in riot gear, they chanted peacefully, hands in the air. Officers responded by beating them with nightsticks.
Similar scenes have played out across New York in recent days. Even as the police struggle to prevent looting and other illegal activity, the city has sent scores of armored officers to contain and confront peaceful protesters. Video footage shows officers pushing, punching and beating people, pepper-spraying people, hitting people with police vehicles.
New Yorkers have taken to the streets of the city to demand an end to police brutality, to express their pain and their hope that their voices will be heard — that their rights will be respected. All too often, the police have responded with more violence.
New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, is responsible for the city’s failure to protect the safety of its residents. As evidence of police abuse has mounted, he has averted his eyes, insisting Thursday that the Police Department uses as “light a touch as possible.” [..]
But Mr. de Blasio appears unwilling to confront the reality that the department is failing to meet the demands of this moment. Officers have been allowed to behave in a manner that disgraces their mission to protect and serve, and violates the public trust.
The mayor is allowing that to happen.
Paul Krugman: Donald Trump Is No Richard Nixon
He — and his party — are much, much worse.
On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on student protesters, killing four. The 50th anniversary of the Kent State massacre passed with little notice in a nation preoccupied with Covid-19 — but now, suddenly, echoes of the Nixon era are everywhere. And Donald Trump seems to be deliberately invoking Nixon’s legacy, tweeting out “LAW & ORDER!” in the apparent hope that it will magically rescue his political fortunes.
And given Trump’s determination to put troops in the streets of America’s cities, it’s quite likely that innocent civilians will be shot at some point.
But Donald Trump isn’t Richard Nixon — he’s much, much worse. And America 2020 isn’t America 1970: We’re a better nation in many ways, but our democracy is far more fragile thanks to the utter corruption of the Republican Party.
The Trump-Nixon comparisons are obvious. Like Nixon, Trump has exploited white backlash for political gain. Like Nixon, Trump evidently believes that laws apply only to the little people.
Nixon, however, doesn’t seem to have been a coward. Amid mass demonstrations, he didn’t cower in the MAGAbunker, venturing out only after his minions had gassed peaceful protesters and driven them out of Lafayette Park. Instead, he went out to talk to protesters at the Lincoln Memorial. His behavior was a bit weird, but it wasn’t craven.
Eugene Robinson: Trump is uniting Americans — against him
The first time I witnessed the use of tear gas and brutal force against lawful, peaceful protesters was in Chile during the reign of military dictator Augusto Pinochet. The shocking abuse of state power we saw near the White House on Monday reminded me of that place and time — and made clear the peril we now face.
Pinochet had seized power in 1973 in a bloody U.S.-backed coup. In 1988, believing himself invincible, he called for a plebiscite to give him eight more years in power. I covered the run-up to that vote. And when those calling on Chileans to vote “no” held rallies, Pinochet’s goon squads inevitably found or invented some reason to disperse the crowds with overwhelming force. The worst kind of tear gas, I discovered the hard way, was some concoction the strongman had bought from the apartheid government in South Africa.
That sort of thing doesn’t happen here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Except this week, in Lafayette Square. [..]
On Wednesday afternoon, as I visited the site where demonstrators were gassed and manhandled, I wondered whether Trump’s attempt at division might not be having the opposite effect.
The lawless law-and-order president
“We need law and order,” President Trump declared this week, calling for military and police forces to crush protests against police brutality. “LAW & ORDER!” he has tweeted four times in recent days, as his aides call for the same.
Perhaps they might consider leading by example.
This administration, after all, must be among the most lawless and disorderly in U.S. history.
An exhaustive catalogue of the Trump White House’s demonstrated contempt for the rule of law is hardly possible within my allotted column inches. But let’s consider some of the highlights, among the heaps of wrongdoing committed by White House aides, Trump Organization employees and the president himself — as well as lawbreaking outside the administration that our president has either ignored or encouraged.
Including, most recently, lawbreaking by law enforcement itself. [..]
Shortly after officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets Monday at peaceful protesters and clergy outside the White House gates, Trump called for an “overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled,” neglecting to recognize the implicit paradox of that statement.
“I am your president of law and order,” Trump declared. He conveniently failed to specify which laws — and whose order.
Michael Gerson: Trump wants to turn his opponents into infidels to be destroyed, not defeated
Jill Filipovic: Biden’s startling weapon against Trump
Finally, on Tuesday, we heard presidential remarks about the protests against police violence that are roiling the nation.
Too bad they weren’t from the actual president.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, spoke from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this morning, a city — like many across the country — where thousands have been taking to the streets to protest the latest death of an unarmed black man in police custody: George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer dug his knee into his neck for more than eight long minutes.
Biden’s speech could not have distinguished him more from President Donald Trump. While Trump seems to think chaos benefits him and acts to drive it at any turn, Biden struck a markedly different tone, issuing a call for calm, reconciliation, and understanding. “We’re a nation in pain,” Biden said. “We must not let our pain destroy us.”
In a pointed critique of the President, who has long refused to take responsibility for any of his actions and never accepts blame — even when his failed response to a pandemic has left more than 100,000 Americans dead — Biden said, “I’ll do my job and take responsibility. I won’t blame others. I’ll never forget that the job isn’t about me.”
Whatever you think of Biden — and he wasn’t my pick for the Democratic nomination — it was almost startling to hear from an empathetic, rational adult who understands he’s asking to be the public’s most prominent servant, not its petty disciplinarian.
It was a window into what a Biden presidency might look like: Hardly the stuff of progressive dreams, but also leaps and bounds better than the current nightmare of narcissism, division, and autocracy from a President primarily concerned about his ratings and anyone he perceives to have slighted him. Biden promises to listen, lead, and to try to do right by the whole country, not just the angry few who don red hats and shout the loudest at political rallies.
He may not be offering the kind of enormous progress voters like me crave. But he does promise to pull us back from the abyss.