01 June 2020

Santayana Was an Optimist

Ninety-nine years ago today, the peaceful nonprotesters in Tulsa were the target of lawless race riots. So what have we learned? Let's ask the current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in one of the blackest cities in the nation:

But we cannot allow the righteous cries and peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob. The biggest victims of the rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities.

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We have one beautiful law. And once that is restored and fully restored, we will help you, we will help your business and we will help your family. America is founded upon the rule of law. It is the foundation of our prosperity, our freedom and our very way of life. But where there is no law, there is no opportunity. Where there is no justice, there is no liberty. Where there is no safety, there is no future. We must never give in to anger or hatred. If malice or violence reigns, then none of us is free.

(Transcript from ABC News, 01 Jun 2020) Curiously, there was no photograph of the Reichstag burning in the background, but there might as well have been… given the rhetoric and promises I didn't quote.

Consider — frighteningly enough — what is quoted above (and it's not out of context, as you can see looking at the transcript link). The angry mob of antisocial-media bots does a far better job of drowning out the righteous cries and peaceful protesters than any organized-on-the-fly protest at police brutality can. And the victims of the rioting are the same population as too often subjected to overuse of force by so-called "law enforcement" — tactics never used on Wall Street, despite the far higher and more dangerous threat to property.

It's the next paragraph that is scariest, though. I could try to deconstruct it, but abstracting it works better: The one beautiful law that he wants restored, and fully restored, is Jim Crow. (I suspect he wouldn't mind Lochner, either, but even its greatest advocates realized there was nothing beautiful about it by early 1918.) The contrast with his response to the Charlottesville fiasco is enlightening, but not… beautiful. His position isn't helped by an even cursory understanding of military history, and that the "great generals" Lee and Jackson looked "great" only by comparison to the complete (ok, occasionally only incomplete) morons they were arrayed against for the first two years of the Second War of American Secession (they didn't look so good once McClellan was replaced by Meade, did they?).

So in answer to my initial question: The leadership of this nation has learned not a damned thing in 99 years. And no justice, no liberty, no safety, and no future is precisely what the streets of Tulsa looked like on 02 Jun 1921.

But that's history he does not recall — probably because there aren't any great golf courses or flashy real-estate development opportunities in the area. And I'm not sure which is more frightening/disgusting: Ignorance of the Tulsa Race Riots or of the Reichstag Fire.