Attorney General William Barr testified before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday in a contentious and dramatic hearing, and made a number of notably deceptive statements that reeked of corruption. Barr recently said that Trump’s tweets about felon-friend Roger Stone “make it impossible to do my job.” Yet when asked about the content of several Trump tweets, including damning tweets about Roger Stone, Barr insisted that he doesn’t read Trump’s tweets. How could Trump’s tweets make Barr’s job impossible if Barr isn’t aware of their content?? Barr also tried to weasel his way out of responsibility for lying about the firing of US Attorney Geoffrey Berman. Barr publicly stated that Berman was stepping down when in fact he was being fired by Trump. When asked under oath if Berman indeed stepped down, Barr tried to twist the meaning of the phrase “stepping down” rather than admit he had lied. But Rep Joe Neguse of Colorado didn’t let Barr get away with it. Another glaring double standard was exposed by Rep Pramila Jayapal of Washington who noted that Barr always rushes to quash protesters who oppose Trump but did nothing to stop the armed white protesters in Detroit who took over the State House and openly threatened to kill the governor–because Trump supports them! Barr seemed taken aback by the exposure of such obvious hypocrisy. His responses and attitude sent the overwhelming message that he was just a partisan hack whose goal was to serve Trump, not the equal administration of justice.
All the while, Barr and the committee Trumpublicans tried their best to repeat and repeat the Trump campaign fantasy that America is an unsafe storm of violence due to Democrat-loving Antifa, even though Antifa is less an organization or even a movement than it is a statement of values. Our soldiers in World War Two were all anti-fascists, and most Americans today would say they oppose Fascism. I wish one of the House Democrats had asked Barr if he opposed Fascism. He could only answer “yes,” at which point he should have been accused of being Antifa.
I have to admit, I agree with Barr on one subject. Violent protest–whether burning buildings or smashing windows or throwing bricks at cops–is always wrong and should never be acceptable to peaceful protesters. Rep John Lewis, a national treasure, lies in state at this very moment awaiting burial, and if his legacy has shown us anything, it’s the value of peaceful protest along with the mindset of love. It’s easy to forgive the frustrations of people who live with crushing inequality and injustice, just as it’s easy to sympathize with their rage and impatience. As Martin Luther King said, “rioting is the language of the unheard.” And there are millions of unheard Americans right now. But the most lasting and effective social revolutions are based upon non-violence. All true protest movements must revolve around a set of demands, yet physically engaging with Trump’s secret police serves no real purpose. “Get out of our city” might be a momentary and just demand, but it has little to do with the long-term demands of the Black Lives Matter movement, especially when it’s backed by physical force. When activists and protesters act with violence, they play into the hands of authoritarianism. When protesters retaliate with violence against secret police, they play into the hands of Trump, helping him further the fantasy that protesters and BLM activists are all just violent and dangerous anarchist terrorists. Activists across the country need to be clear about the principle of non-violence and refuse to tolerate the cause being hijacked by anarchists (or supremacists masquerading as anarchists) or any others who want to destroy for the sake of destruction. We must do a better job of acknowledging and denouncing this element of the protest movement without fear. Because we give Trump nothing by opposing violence. Indeed, we strengthen the ground upon which our grievances stand. Our demands for an end to violent suppression of speech and an end to police brutality are far more effective when we embrace and embody non-violence.
Our number one goal for the next 96 days is to remove the most corrupt, dishonest and destructive president of our lifetime from office at the ballot box. Everything else is a distant second.
Hudson Valley Strong holds a virtual phone bank for Joe Biden in swing states every Wednesday night. Please join them! You can find sign-up info here:
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”