The groundwork

Jeet Heer in the Nation:

Protests have been roiling Portland for over six weeks. Even prior to these protests, Portland was a site of a long-running battle between right-wing groups like the Proud Boys and left-wing activists who are usually lumped together under the antifa label. It’s possible that the antifa connection made Portland a spot of particular interest to the Trump administration, which has used the loosely organized anti-fascist groups as a scapegoat for social upheavals in the wake of police brutality.

The deployment of unidentified federal officers is particularly dangerous in a situation like that in Portland and elsewhere in America, because it could easily lead to right-wing militias’ impersonating legal authorities and kidnapping citizens.

That would be bad. Let’s not have that.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is currently in Portland. In a statement on Thursday, Wolf said, “The city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city. Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.” Wolf warned, “This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law.”

Wolf’s strident words echoed the law-and-order theme that has come to the fore in Trump’s reelection campaign. Trump himself sounded a racist variation on the theme in a Thursday White House virtual town hall when he decried the collapse of “law and order” in cities like New York and Chicago. Trump also claimed that Democrats were trying to destroy the suburbs. Announcing the rescinding of an Obama order against racial segregation in housing, Trump said, “The suburb destruction will end with us.”

So it’s “destruction of the suburbs” to ban racial segregation in housing?

Trump hasn’t learned anything since he was sued in federal court for enforcing racial segregation in his own housing.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has been commendably blunt in attacking Trump’s assault on protesters. On Thursday, she tweeted:

The President is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.

I told Acting Secretary Wolf that the federal government should remove all federal officers from our streets. His response showed me he is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm’s way.

Or just plain laying the groundwork for a fascist coup.

H/t Dave Ricks

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