President Donald Trump says he may call out the military to quell riots if the states refuse to do their duty to protect their citizens. But can he even do that? His harshest critics say no, but they’re very wrong.
The riots and looting that have taken place across the country are anything but “peaceful.” And while all of us agree peaceful demonstrations are acceptable, even if we don’t agree with them, the recent orgy of violence has been driven by far-left anarchists and others bent on taking down a democratically elected government.
Even so, many in the Democratic Party, including former President Barack Obama and current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are not exactly covering themselves in glory when they say they “understand” why the violence is happening but can’t quite bring themselves to condemn it.
“Once the violence began, any effort to ‘understand’ it should have stopped, since that understanding is inevitably exculpatory,” writes Heather Mac Donald in City Journal. “The looters are not grieving over the stomach-churning arrest and death of George Floyd; they are having the time of their lives. You don’t protest or mourn a victim by stealing oxycontin, electronics, jewelry, and sneakers.”
Police are under assault, with “dozens” of serious injuries reported in such cities as New York, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and elsewhere. In New York alone, a policeman was run over by a car, while an officer in the Bronx was “mowed down” by an SUV. Meanwhile, Secret Service officers protecting the president were injured as rioters threw objects and lit fires near the White House.
Then there’s this scary Daily Caller headline: “At Least Five Police Officers Reportedly Shot, One On Life Support As Rioters And Law Enforcement Battle Across The Country.”
Meanwhile, according to CNN, a half dozen civilians have died in the violence, and it’s a wonder there haven’t been more.
This is not “peaceful” protest, as Mac Donald points out. It’s a dangerous insurrection fueled by extremist, far-left elements of Antifa, which get succor and support from so-called “progressives” in the Democratic Party. They are supporting terrorists, and they know it.
Nor are these spontaneous events. Rather, increasingly, police and other officials say it’s clear there’s both planning and funding behind the destruction, with some pointing a finger at the violent Antifa group. The “rage” people talk about is in fact cynically contrived.
The Democratic Blue State governors and local officials who refuse to protect lives and property are doing their citizens and the nation’s rule of law a grave disservice. Their failure to act is itself a kind of misconduct at best, actual malfeasance at worst, given virtually all are sworn to protect our constitutional order.
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said Monday.
Nonetheless, some assert the use of U.S. troops of any kind to end these riots is illegal or at least questionable. They cite the Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878, that prohibits the use of federal troops in most cases.
But they’re wrong. Because one of the things that the law, passed during Reconstruction after the Civil War, did was include the much-older Insurrection Acts, dating from 1807.
As a 2018 research paper by the Congressional Research Service observed, “The Constitution permits Congress to authorize the use of the militia ‘to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.’ And it guarantees the states protection against invasion or usurpation of their ‘republican form of government,’ and, upon the request of the state legislature, against domestic violence.”
It’s one thing to question whether Trump should call out the military. That’s a fair debate. Honorable people can disagree.
But make no mistake, Trump has the right and, a case can be made, the moral obligation in this instance, to call out U.S. troops to protect our republic from those who would overthrow our constitutional order. States, of course, are free to reject such help. But then again, telling citizens “you’re on your own” might not be a popular position for even a Trump-hating progressive to take.
In short, though he’s been criticized by all the predictable sources, including by “never-Trumpers” on the right, Trump can call out troops to meet a challenge to our nation’s very existence. The Constitution is not a suicide pact.
This violence is a sickness in our body politic far worse than COVID-19. Declaring Antifa a terrorist group is only the first step to finding a cure. We must stop Antifa and its allies from transforming America’s constitutional republic, based on individual rights, democracy and rule of law, into something quite different: A far-left, one-party, dictatorial dystopia with no rights at all.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board