The ongoing Antifa driven riots in Portland and other Democrat-run cities have generated as many bad takes as Portland feds have fired rubber bullets. The announcement yesterday of Operation LEGEND, a deployment of federal law enforcement officers to a handful of cities where street violence seems out of control, drove a lot of the left and NeverTrump bonkers. (See Trump Stops Playing Around With Chicago, Expands “Operation Legend” Into the City).
One argument from the left is that this is fascist and totalitarian. What is lost on them is that if you can call your government fascist and totalitarian, the one thing you can be sure of is that it is neither. The Chicago mayor proclaimed that President Trump was picking on cities with women mayors. While I’m not discounting the possibility that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is, indeed, a woman, the evidence doesn’t seem, at least at this juncture, to support that hypothesis. And, quite honestly, there is no interest on my part in going full Andrew Sullivan on the subject. The bizarre assertion that the right to riot and destroy property is enshrined in the First Amendment has become a Twitter article of faith.
There is a new-found love of federalism, and people who should know better are asserting that federal officers have no law enforcement jurisdiction off federal property. Philadelphia’s city attorney has gone so far as to threaten to arrest federal officers operating in that city.
People, particularly in the leftist media, are claiming that the federal agents are suited out in sterile uniforms devoid of any identification. That is patently untrue. Imagery shows that uniforms are marked with agency patches and, taking a page from the tactics of Tier One Special Operations Forces, instead of a name tape, each agent has an alphanumeric patch so that their name can’t be compromised and their family attacked while they are on duty. In the image below, you can see it on the right side of the helmet:
the guys in this video are almost certainly DHS/ICE BORTAC agents — their camo pattern and POLICE patch markings match officers in this photo posted by DHS sec Chad Wolf this morning, where a CBP patch is visible https://t.co/9M8bTsZrw9 pic.twitter.com/9hbYSjxQaM
— Jack Crosbie (@jscros) July 17, 2020
But you have to leave it up to the NeverTrump element to come up with the real winner. Earlier today, I saw what was supposed to be a killer argument that was, “If you support federal agents in these cities, then I guess you’ll be fine with President Biden sending them out to enforce facemask orders.”
We’ve seen this argument for years. What it boils down to is the bald assertion that the left will never, ever do anything that the right hasn’t already done, and so, if you want to keep them from doing bad stuff, you’d better watch your step. Taken to its logical conclusion, we could infer that everything the Obama administration did from gun-walking operations in Tucson, Phoenix, and Milwaukee, along with many other cities (See Surprise outcome. Incompetent ATF accepts incompetence as the norm) to targeting conservative charities was a direct result of George Bush doing the same. I guess we’re just lucky George Bush didn’t try to take over the health care system or impose extortionate taxes because then who knows what Obama would have done.
What President Trump ordered is legal and within the American tradition. Historically, federal personnel have been used to maintain law and order when the local authorities were unable or unwilling to do so. It happened during the Whiskey Rebellion. It happened during the Reconstruction. It happened during the Pullman Strikes. It happened during the Bonus March. It happened during the Mine Wars. It happened in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. It happened during the riots in 1965, 1967, and 1968. It happened during the Rodney King riots. The real scandal that no one seems willing to talk about is that of mayors of cities like Portland and Seattle allying themselves with anarchist thugs and preventing local police from putting things back in order. There might be good reasons for letting open insurrection continue and or opposing federal intervention…but I haven’t heard or read any of them. But the one reason you can’t use and maintain any credibility is that President Trump ordering federal agents to protect federal property and enforce federal laws will give Joe Biden all the excuse he needs to send the Border Patrol out to arrest you for not wearing a facemask. He’ll do that (should he be elected) no matter what President Trump does.