Saturday, May 30, 2020

Is Rioting Being Exploited As Cover For The Economic Devastation Of Controlavirus Lockdowns?



trtworld |  US President Donald Trump has been frustrated by state-level lockdown orders that have turned a humming economy into a constellation of ghost towns. The jobless rate, set to hit 30 percent within months, is an existential threat to Trump’s presidency, if elections go forward in November. It also might be an existential threat to the US as it occupies the borders it has now. Trump has declared his authority is ‘’total’’ to lift lockdowns in states, a claim that reeked of ignorance and panic. But ignorance and panic can be contagious. 

“He’s encouraging his followers to break state laws, and targeting Democratic governors and other politicians,’’ said Oregon-based journalist Jason Wilson, who has been covering the shape of radical right-wing movements in the United States. He’s referring to armed groups of Americans gathering at statehouses to protest stay-at-home orders. 

“It certainly raises the prospect of civil disorder. I would say that the country is entering its greatest period of instability and civil strife since at least the 1960s; more realistically, since the Depression and World World II. The conflict between states and the federal government raises the possibility of constitutional crisis. It’s a dark and uncertain time in this country.” 

It is easy to dismiss the lockdown protestors as clownish villains, willfully spreading the virus to each other and countless others. But the virus makes villains of us all, and a few of us are inclined to react to social distancing measures by panicking or retreating to vile racist, conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus. Even as they deny the humanity of others, saying that they themselves or strangers are worth sacrificing to the virus, they are expressing their own humanity, in particular the fragility of human reasoning skills in a crisis. Every deadly stampede starts with its first fearful footfall. 

Although they do not represent a majority of Americans, armed protestors are more convincing than unarmed protestors. In Michigan on Thursday, armed citizens rallied inside the capitol building in Lansing. That same night, the legislature voted not to renew the governor's state-of-emergency order. The state's Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, who imposed one of the most comprehensive social distancing schemes, had been a target of Trump's rage online and in coronavirus briefings, where he called her that "woman from Michigan." Trump has endorsed the protests there, thinking ending lockdowns will revive the economy. The billionaire family of Trump's education secretary, Betsy Devos, sister to infamous Blackwater mercenary Erik Prince, bankrolled the lobbying group encouraging the demonstrations.