“Wouldn’t a simple statement of solidarity with the protestors and his personal commitment to help heal the nation be the right use of the General’s reputation and leadership?”
To presume that President Trump would misuse his federal authority to quell the nation’s most destructive and apparently out of control riots in decades is to presume either incompetence or malevolence. General Mattis offers no evidence for either of these presumptions. e presumes too much.
In fact, President Trump’s competence and beneficence regarding the nation, particularly the economy, race relations, and foreign policy are unassailable. For example, at times against General Mattis’ recommendations, President Trump reduced our footprint in the Middle East, while annihilating ISIS in a matter of months: something that 12 years of previous presidents could not achieve. The region is now relatively peaceful, something unimaginable to previous world leaders. So there is scant—if any—evidence for incompetence in President Trump’s use of military force or his malevolence towards the Constitution, as General Mattis presumes.
To presume that justifiable public grief and grieving is best expressed in demonstrations demanding justice is to presume that justice is not being done. The killer has been arrested and charged. His cop accomplices are charged, or are about to be charged. Justice is being served, and it is obvious that it is.
If anything, [protestors’] rights are being venerated and prioritized above demands for immediate law and order.
Isn’t the proper expression of public grief at this point support for Mr. Floyd’s family, respect for their wishes for peace and for his legacy, and care for those suffering in the aftermath of the riots? Aren’t local shop owners, the elderly, the ill, and children more properly deserving of the outpouring of energy and concern from citizens? Wouldn’t condemnation of the violence be a more correct response? General Mattis presumes wrongly again that all of the protestors are acting properly and towards the nation’s higher good.
To presume Constitutional rights are being threatened, as the General clearly states, is to presume someone or something is threatening them. Again, there is no evidence offered, just presumption. Everywhere protestors are assembling and speaking freely. They routinely violate curfew decrees but are not prosecuted. If anything, their rights are being venerated and prioritized above demands for immediate law and order.
To presume the protestors are justifiably irate is to presume that George Floyd’s killing was a racist act and to presume, then, that the killer was racially motivated. Again, no evidence is offered, and none is found in the public record. Presumptions that the killer was a supporter of President Trump’s are legion, so for General Mattis to lend credence to this presumption by much of the public is wrong.
A political attack on our President at this exact moment in the struggle for calmer heads to prevail is indicative of the General’s wrong judgment.
He alarms too much. If, as the General says, he is alarmed by President Trump’s lack of an attempt to unify the nation, the division General Mattis sows at this fragile moment could have untold consequences.
Wouldn’t a simple statement of solidarity with the protestors and his personal commitment to help heal the nation be the right use of the General’s reputation and leadership? A political attack on our President at this exact moment in the struggle for calmer heads to prevail is indicative of the General’s wrong judgment.
He believes too much. If General Mattis believes that we are a nation in the grips of an assault by racist police, as he apparently does by his unconditional support of the protestors, then he doesn’t know the research on the issue: the actual numbers that show a given person in the United States is much more likely to be struck by lightning in a given year as for an unarmed person to be killed by a police officer. And speaking publicly from this ignorance is dangerous, divisive, and wrong on many levels.
Jim Proser is the author of No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy: The Life of General James Mattis.