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Douglas Andrews / Jun. 2, 2020

Quelling an Insurrection

President Trump dusts off the Insurrection Act of 1807 to stop violence rocking American cities.

Rioting in Minneapolis was virtually nonexistent last night, and state leaders have reason to be at least cautiously optimistic for continued de-escalation. But that doesn’t mean we’ve turned a corner on the violence. Far from it.

The seventh night of civil unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in police custody saw multiple acts of violence against police officers. These included four who were shot in St. Louis and one in Las Vegas, where the officer is on life support. In addition, officers were fired upon in Richmond and in Des Moines, Iowa, and the driver of an SUV plowed through a line of police in Buffalo, seriously injuring two officers.

If these events are any indication, the war against law and order has only become fiercer. But you might not know any of this if your only source for news is the Leftmedia.

President Donald Trump appears to have had enough, however. In a seven-minute speech delivered early yesterday evening from the Rose Garden, the president began by saying, “My first and highest duty as president is to defend our great country and the American people. I swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation, and that is exactly what I will do.”

The president then acknowledged the obvious: “All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd. My administration is fully committed that, for George and his family, justice will be served. He will not have died in vain. But we cannot allow the righteous cries and peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob.”

Upon concluding his remarks, he said he would now “pay his respects to a very, very special place.” Accompanied by the Secret Service, he then took a short stroll across the street to Lafayette Park, the site of recent unrest, to historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been set ablaze by rioters Sunday night. There, he put the nation’s milquetoast mayors on notice by dusting off the Insurrection Act of 1807.

“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents,” he said, “then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

As The Wall Street Journal reports, “Mr. Trump has discussed invoking the Insurrection Act, a law that allows a president to deploy active-duty military — as opposed to National Guard troops — in response to civil unrest. Mr. Trump was briefed Monday by his national-security team on the possible use of the act.”

As the Journal notes, the Insurrection Act was last employed in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush to quell the Rodney King-inspired Los Angeles riots, and before that in 1968, in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

The denunciations from the Left came quickly and predictably, with Joe Biden pledging that he won’t, if elected, “fan the flames of hate,” nor let anyone “quiet our voice.”

For his part, CNN “journalist” Anderson Cooper sneered, “Who’s the thug here?”

Trump also took criticism from the Right, albeit from lonely voices. Said diehard anti-Trumper Quin Hillyer in the Washington Examiner, “Once again, he proved why he is exactly the wrong man to inhabit the White House in these times.”

The wrong man? We’re not so sure. If the events of recent days have taught us anything, it’s that weakness is provocative. And to re-state what the president said yesterday, his ultimate duty is simply stated: “to defend our great country and the American people.” To our eyes, at least so far, that’s exactly what he’s doing.

South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott, a former small-business owner and the only one of our 100 senators to have been pulled over for “driving while black,” seems to agree. While Scott panned the president’s “looting” remark over the weekend as “not constructive,” he endorsed what he heard yesterday. “I would say that the president’s comments in the Rose Garden were important,” he said. “They were significant. They were heartfelt. I think they lead us in the right direction.”

(Updated with Scott’s remarks.)

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