Law and order is rapidly developing as an issue in the upcoming election.
Cities across the US are on literal fire, and some have been that way for months. Take Portland, the most prominent example. Since Memorial Day, its downtown area has been terrorized by leftist, mostly Antifa, protestors. I’ve seen the videos and they are frightening. The mayor decided not to condemn the violence; he even seemed to condone his city turning into a war zone.
Few people paid attention until President Trump decided to send in federal troops. Uproar followed, as did proclamations of peaceful protest. But this was truly a case of “There are none so blind as those who will not see,” as the Portland protests — at least according to on-site video evidence — seemed anything but peaceful.
Democrats were slow to condemn this violence, and Trump took advantage.
On the other side is a different type of defiance: protesting COVID measures. Again, nothing wrong with a peaceful protest. But outright defiance of current laws on the books? Such as over 1,000 gathering at Jefferson County’s Bandimere Speedway — without masks, without social distancing — to protest Gov. Polis’ mask order? That’s not respecting law and order, either; it’s also deciding that the law doesn’t matter because I don’t agree with it.
The type of flagrant disrespect we’re seeing for the law is dangerous. Many people like to compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, or his presidency to Nazi Germany. It’s hyperbole. There cannot be totalitarian government when the legislature and courts work as independent branches of government, as they do in the US.
But I do think comparisons to Weimar Germany are worth noting. Hitler arose from a situation of chaos, where extremist militaristic groups on the right and left abandoned law and order and took to the streets. (How that chaos arose is a topic for a different column.)
The rule of law is key to a functioning civil society. If we — on the right or left — forget that, we are entering very dangerous territory indeed.
Shana Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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