A protester holds a placard on 16th Street near the White House in Washington, DC, amid ongoing demonstrations…Read More
WASHINGTON: The White House is under siege by protesters. Tens of thousands of demonstrators seeking racial justice are streaming into Washington DC on Saturday for a rally that will push up towards 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and a hunkered down President Donald Trump, even as he pushes back claiming unlimited power and space.
The White House security perimeter is now nearing a square mile around the presidential mansion, with cartoons and memes mocking Trump for finally getting a wall that he so ardently desired – except it is around the White House instead of at the Southern border. In an embarrassment for what is self-professedly the freest society on earth, heavily armed police and para-military forces are guarding Fortress White House against its own people.
A largely Democratic Black-majority city with a female African-American Mayor has painted a message to a President they deem racist: BLACK LIVES MATTER inscribed on the road in yellow, giant, all-caps is large enough to be seen from space. The city has also named the block directly in front of the White House Black Lives Matter Plaza. It can’t get more in-your-face to the ill-tempered President, who returned from a self-comforting rally among his MAGA supporters in Maine, the whitest of all U.S states,
There is no organization or structure or speeches or venue for Saturday’s rally. People of all color and ages are streaming into the city on the basis of a random social media posts and hashtags, many chuffed by reports of protest rallies all over the world – from New Zealand and Australia to Europe to Canada, where the country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the knee in solidarity with the black community. His 21-second silence in a response to a question about the racial tensions in U.S constituted an eloquent a condemnation of the Trump administration for its tone-deaf approach to the crisis.
The gulf in America between its white racists who remain in denial about discrimination and feel besieged by a multi-hued America, and its minorities whose continued oppression leaves them with no bandwidth to understand white anxiety and fear, has now expanded into a chasm. It is now coming to the fore in many incidents during the strife.
On Friday, 57 police officers in Buffalo, New York, resigned from the city’s Emergency Response Team to protest the suspension of two of their colleagues who violently pushed a 75-year old protestor, sending him to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.
From liberal circles, the call went out to sack all 57 from the city force itself for their egregious support to rogue policemen whose unprovoked violence against a senior citizen was captured on camera. From conservative quarters came the argument that the 75-year old man was a long-time agitator, an agent provocateur, a “hippie reliving his glory days,” and that he fully deserved what he got for being out there when there was curfew.
But liberal and minority anger against unmitigated racism is now starting to scald the White House. On Friday, Wichita State University withdrew its invitation to Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter, to give a commencement speech at the college’s June 6 virtual graduation. She nevertheless released the speech online with the message, “Our nation’s campuses should be bastions of free speech. Cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination are antithetical to academia.” Among the responses she got: “ ‘Free speech!’ cries Sweatshop Barbie, who walked alongside her fascist daddy, carrying his prop bible in her purse, as he gassed peaceful protesters along the way to a photo op.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times withdrew from print publication an oped by Republican Senator Tom Cotton calling for deploying the hardcore U.S military assets such as its lethal airborne divisions to quell domestic strife, saying he commentary does not meet the newspaper’s standards. The paper’s edit page editors were forced to back down after a staff revolt, even as conservative commentators howled about the their “shocking cowardice.”
Some of Trump’s cabinet colleagues meantime are making grounds to disown him and be shown as dissenters in case things go south after he was chastised by several former military generals, including some former enablers. Defense Secretary Mike Esper reportedly told Washington D.C.’s National Guard and guardsmen from other states who are in the nation’s capital not to use guns or ammunition even as active-duty military has been quietly withdrawn from the city, some of them turfed out by a mayor using her local powers. On Friday, Attorney General William Barr claimed he did not give a command to disperse the crowd in front of the White House to enable the President walk to the church across, though he supported the decision.