On March 5, 1770, British troops shot and killed five American colonists at the Boston Massacre. Troops had been sent from England to enforce obedience to the king, to compel colonists to comply with tax laws in which they had had no say and over which they vociferously protested.
A similar dynamic is playing out today in Portland, Oregon, where thousands are protesting racist police tactics. The response of our would-be king in the White House is to send federal officers to “dominate” protesters, seize them without warrant and to confine them in unknown locations. In their camouflage uniforms (designed, no doubt, to make them invisible against the backdrop of glass, concrete, and asphalt) and no identifying insignia or name tags, these anonymous troops stand post much as the British did centuries ago, ostensibly protecting government property. It is merely a matter of time before someone gets killed.
This exercise in extreme authoritarianism is not meant to bring peace to the streets of Portland. Those streets were already largely at peace when these soldiers showed up. It is meant to defeat the Constitution. It is meant to normalize anti-constitutional excesses.
Donald Trump declared literal war on Democrats and their supporters. He makes no bones about this, having stated his intention to send officers into other “Democrat-controlled” cities.
Trump has pronounced himself, without a whiff of irony, the “law-and-order president.” His words and actions are similar to those spoken and perpetrated in the waning days of the Weimar Republic, before the Nazis seized power.
It is crucial that citizens be vigilant to what Trump and his Republican Party are doing. Unless we, U.S. citizens, stop them at the polls, they will continue down this authoritarian path until the Constitution is not worth the parchment it is written on.