Within hours of President Biden’s call for civility, protesters went on a violent rampage in the Pacific Northwest, mostly in Portland Oregon. The protesters, according to the New York Times, marched through the streets, burned an American flag and smashed windows at Democratic Party Headquarters.
The protesters were not supporters of the now departed Donald J Trump. Nor were they from QAnon, the Proud Boys or other white supremacist groups. They were self-identified antifascist and racial-justice warriors, which is to say, fascists who like to call themselves antifascists. Their complaint was that Joe Biden’s promised reforms “won’t save us”.
Of course they won’t, primarily because they are not interested in being “saved”. They are simply nihilists who seek to smash and destroy. They could care less about the back and forth of democratic politics and the making of public policy. They seek to engender distrust and destroy democratic institutions, not to build on them.
If he means what he says, Joe Biden has a golden opportunity to take a large step toward restoring civility to the Republic and strengthening our democratic institutions. He can condemn the violence in Oregon without reservation just as strongly as he rightly condemned the violence fomented by Donald Trump at the Capitol on January 6. And he can seek to have the perpetrators brought to justice for their crimes, just as the perpetrators of the January 6 riots should be prosecuted for their crimes to the full extent of the law.
The choice is clear. It is a choice between violence and liberal government. Tolerating violence based on what “side” it favors is no justice at all. It is a fundamental attack on equality before the law and our democratic institutions. Vigorous prosecution of those who use violence to achieve political ends is a defense of the rule of law and democratic institutions.
President Joe Biden has a choice to make. He can defend the rule of law and democratic institutions. Or he can be just like Donald J. Trump and be politically selective about how the law is enforced.
That choice will tell us a lot about what Joe Biden is really made of.