On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal published an article saying Attorney General William Barr wishes to charge arrested Black Lives Matter and Antifa protestors with sedition. According to reports, he said:
If you start charging those people, even if you don’t get a conviction, it may make people think twice before going out to exercise their right to free speech.
Now, sedition laws have been used before in the United States, most notably by the administrations of John Adams and Woodrow Wilson. Neither of which I’d call Presidents of liberty (Adams was quite possibly the most authoritarian President in United States history), but still.
Barr was more than likely making an attempt to appeal to the “law and order” crowd. Considering only 11% (or around one in nine) Americans say “law and order” is their chief concern, however, it seems like doing this has backfired far more than it has helped the President. Instead, all it did was give people yet another reason to call Trump and his administration nothing more than a bunch of fascists.
One thing this administration really does not understand is framing. For example, Trump has been accused of being a Nazi for the past five years and his main enemy is a group called anti-fascist. While I am far from the biggest fan of Antifa, it’s common sense that you have to be really careful to make sure the fact that you’re anti-Antifa doesn’t make you a fascist in the minds of the average American.
How good has Donald Trump been at stopping this misunderstanding?
I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right. These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!
To be blunt, he hasn’t. Hence why every couple of months, especially since the Black Lives Matter movement came back into public light after the death of George Floyd, we get some new controversy related to the Executive Branch acting like the Third Reich.
Back near the end of July, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf infamously had police take protesters (and some rioters) in Portland and place them in unmarked vans. I imagine Wolf thought of this as nothing more than an attempt to restore law and order, as Barr felt about his comments, and as Trump felt about him. However, once again, all it did was make him look like the very thing he’s been accused of for the past three years in the eyes of the average American.
Do I personally believe Trump is a fascist? No, I believe fascism is worship of the state and, while he certainly has some tendencies that should not be overlooked, he has not gone quite far enough for him to be considered even in the vain of Franco or Pinochet, let alone Hitler. However, I do believe, quite sincerely, that Trump is a dolt who is unable to figure out what the American people want.
Back in July, it was found that around 63% of Americans supported the Black Lives Matter movement. While that number has dropped more recently, it’s still safe to say that enough Americans support Black Lives Matter for them to make a massive difference in the upcoming election. Trump threatening to use the tactics of Bull Conner to shut them down is incredibly unpopular, and every time he does such a thing he only gets a lower and lower approval rating. Trump might not be a fascist, but he seems to be accidently using their ideas more often then he should.