Discover more from The Bulwark
When You Summon the Chaos
Plus: Trump defends “Hang Mike Pence.”
I’m indebted to one of our readers for calling my attention to this piece by Freddie deBoer, which may be the most remarkable thing I read this week. He’s a man of the Left, which adds some heft to his warning to his ideological compatriots that there are often awful consequences to bad ideas.
“When you condone chaos,” he writes, “you condone the consequences of chaos.”
In this case, he’s talking about the explicit and implicit support for street violence in the name of social justice. “At the time of the Kenosha riots,” he writes, “many many people along the left-of-center, including otherwise reformist liberals, endorsed riots to some degree or another.”
While most political leaders — including Joe Biden — condemned the violence, deBoer writes: “I know quite a few people who were willing to say that riots were just good on the merits, and there were also many saying in some terms or another that these particular riots could not be judged by progressive people due to what had inspired them.”
This sentiment stretches back a long way but has picked up steam in the last decade and the past year and a half particularly. Here’s a pro-riot piece and here’s a pro-riot piece and here’s a pro-riot piece and here’s a pro-rioting interview and here’s a pro-looting interview and here’s a riots-aren’t-necessarily-good-but-they-do-good-things piece and here’s a both-sidesy rioting piece and on and on. (And this is merely hilarious.) Pro-rioting sentiment is perfect for our edgelord media; it makes for good, click-farming headlines and engages in the kind of moral simplicity and righteous hectoring that defines our current culture.
I don’t think of myself as particularly naïve, but my reaction reading that paragraph was WTAF? So I started clicking on the links… Feel free to follow along:
Here’s the first one:
“When Rioting Is the Answer” — Time
And then there are these:
“The Truth You’ve Probably Never Heard About Riots: Why the riots in response to the murder of George Floyd could be a productive part of the movement for Black Lives.” — Andre Henry, Medium
“Why Violent Protests Work,” GQ (!)
“If riots are not the answer, what is?”- Chicago Tribune
“how do i explain to my mom that the riots are good?” — Reddit post
So, for the folks on the pro-riot left who are upset about the possible (probable?) acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse next week, deBoer has a message:
You endorsed chaotic violence. In that state, someone you don’t like engaged chaotically and violently. You said “riots are good.” But people get killed in riots! Now two people are dead, another is maimed, and the guy responsible may very well walk, as his actions took place against a backdrop of lawlessness and gunfire that gave him the legal arguments he needs to be acquitted.
What else did you expect to happen, in that scenario? How did you think this would all go, this peacocking endorsement of violence for its own sake? Reap what you sow. Reap what you sow.
And speaking of political violence…
Axios: Trump defends threats to "hang" Pence
Graphic: ABC News
Former President Trump — in a taped interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC News that was shared with Axios — defended, quite extensively, supporters who threatened to "hang" former Vice President Mike Pence….
Jonathan Karl: "Were you worried about him during that siege? Were you worried about his safety?"
Trump: "No, I thought he was well-protected, and I had heard that he was in good shape. No. Because I had heard he was in very good shape. But, but, no, I think — "
Karl: "Because you heard those chants — that was terrible. I mean — "
Trump: "He could have — well, the people were very angry."
Karl: "They were saying 'hang Mike Pence.'"
Trump: "Because it's common sense, Jon. It's common sense that you're supposed to protect. How can you — if you know a vote is fraudulent, right? — how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress? How can you do that? And I'm telling you: 50/50, it's right down the middle for the top constitutional scholars when I speak to them. Anybody I spoke to — almost all of them at least pretty much agree, and some very much agree with me — because he's passing on a vote that he knows is fraudulent. How can you pass a vote that you know is fraudulent? Now, when I spoke to him, I really talked about all of the fraudulent things that happened during the election. I didn't talk about the main point, which is the legislatures did not approve — five states. The legislatures did not approve all of those changes that made the difference between a very easy win for me in the states, or a loss that was very close, because the losses were all very close."
Remember: “When you condone chaos, you condone the consequences of chaos.”
The “Fire Esper” Memo
Also, via Jonathan Karl: This amazing insight into the mindset of the Trump White House.
On November 9, 2020 — after his defeat for re-election — Trump did, in fact, fire Esper.
1. The Biggest Bully Is a Half Decade Late
Like every other pathetic, podgy, scared, insecure bully who has ever disgraced a schoolyard, Chris Christie talks a big game. But when he was called upon to meet the biggest threat of his life—a doughy, soft-handed trust-fund baby with authoritarian aspirations—Christie didn’t just walk away from an argument. He waddled as fast as he could go in his urine-soaked pull-ups.
It gets worse.
2. Liz Cheney’s War on Terror
Make sure you read Will Saleten in Slate on the GOP’s Iron Lady:
Cheney doesn’t flinch from the C-word. At the Aspen Institute, she pointed out that Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had expressed “concern about a coup” by Trump. And at a House hearing on Sept. 29, when Republican lawmakers challenged Milley’s loyalty, Cheney praised him for “standing in the breach” on Jan. 6. She called her colleagues’ smears against the general “despicable” and condemned those who impugned his patriotism while “attempting to obstruct the investigation into that attack.”
Within the GOP, Cheney is losing her fight. She’s been booted out of the House Republican leadership, and Trump’s allies have targeted her for defeat in 2022. In a party of cowards, her hawkish case against Trump’s collaborators—that they’re harboring and protecting enemies of the United States—has fallen on deaf ears. But that doesn’t make her wrong. She wants to know why a party that claims to stand for national security is trying to cover up an attack on America. And the leaders of that party have no answer.
3. Secession Watch.
As you know, I’ve been warning that secession could be the next big thing on the right. Here’s David French, in an interview with Mediaite, talking about the danger.
On the possibility of secession in the United States
I think it’s possible. I mean, it’s certainly not probable, but I think it’s possible. And if present trends continue, it may move from possible to probable at some point in the indefinite future. And the reason is pretty simple: it isn’t the ideological divide. That isn’t, at the root of it, what I believe is ripping us to shreds, it’s the negative partisanship.
It’s the animosity divide.
In other words, the mutual loathing that is arising within the United States of America. There is a way in which our social compact depends on at least a basic level of regard for each other. If our social compact says that if you and I are on diametrically opposed places in the political spectrum, but we enjoy the exact same free speech rights, kind of in a human way, I have to have at least some basic level of respect for you to want to extend myself to protect your liberty.
And what’s beginning to happen is we’re beginning to reach a point of loathing, of mutual animosity that’s so great that not only do I not have any interest in your liberty, I’ve become an actual opponent of your liberty. And that’s when you begin to break the social compact.
Totally not a cult.