Barr threatens rioters with “sedition”

This article is liberal commentary.

” … [S]ome federal prosecutors were taken aback last week when the attorney general brought up the possibility of charging violent protesters with sedition,” CNN reported on Wednesday, September 16, 2020. (Read story here.)

Rioting and sedition are different crimes. Sedition “makes it a crime to conspire to overthrow the US government,” which is what Trump will be guilty of, if he refuses to leave office after losing the election or completing a second term. However, it doesn’t appear Barr has any plans to prosecute Trump under any circumstances. He’s already had plenty of opportunities.

Breaking windows, setting dumpster fires, and throwing bricks at police cars (and police) is criminal behavior, but isn’t sedition in any legal sense, nor by any stretch of imagination except in Republican imagination.

The FBI has found that white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and rightwing militias are infiltrating police ranks (see article here), and we’ve been seeing a lot of gratuitous police violence against minorities, probably by these characters. The police murder of George Floyd, after a string of similar incidents, proved to be a ripping point for a big chunk of Americans, who’ve taken to the streets by the hundreds of thousands to demand an end to this genocide disguised as law-and-order.

These protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful, as this blog has pointed out here. The rightwing backlash hasn’t; vigilantes have shot at protesters, pepper sprayed them, and perpetrated dozens of car rammings.

Meanwhile, Republican and rightwing propagandists systematically smear the Black Lives Matter movement (see article here); Trump himself fatuously labeled BLM protesters as “terrorists” (see story here). On his part, that may be the superheated campaign rhetoric of a desperate president badly trailing in polls who never had any verbal restraint to begin with. On the GOP’s part, it purposefully exploits the deep-seated fears of a reactionary white majority who are about to become a minority of the population and feel their dominance slipping away (see illustrative articles here and here);

But it’s even more than that. Republicans are not only reactionaries, but also guardians of the status quo. Their dislike of social change is deeply ingrained in their political culture and individual psyches. The BLM movement is about social change; it’s the largest civil rights movement since the 1960s. Republicans profoundly dislike dissent in any form, and BLM is dissent in spades. They’ve never been reticent about misusing the law to squash dissent, they would criminalize free speech if they could (courts have ruled that flag-burning is free speech). So you see, for example, Tennessee’s Republicans passing a bill making it a felony to camp on the Capitol grass, a primary aim of which is to strip even peaceful protesters of their voting rights (story here). Attacking voting rights is an integral part of preserving a reactionary status quo.

When Bill Barr talks about “sedition,’ he’s not referring to armed rightwing militias, who are anti-government in character. Any militia violence (or threat of violence) in response to a Biden election victory surely could be called “seditious,” if Barr wanted to call it that. The Bundy Ranch standoff, in which armed protesters aimed guns at federal law enforcement officers, surely could be characterized as “seditious,” if he wanted to call it that. He never has.

Barr’s, like other Republicans’, outrage at violent protest is selective. Rioting, property destruction, and assaulting police are criminal conduct; but so is violently occupying federal property (e.g., Malheur) or threatening to shoot federal officers for trying to enforce the law (Bundy Ranch). If we are to have true rule of law, and not Barr’s faux rule of law, then laws must be politically blind and apply the same to everyone.

Until Barr sets aside partisanship and enforces this nation’s laws even-handedly, his comments are correctly seen as the ravings of a partisan hack.

Photo: Breaking windows isn’t sedition, it’s vandalism. Here, the notorious “umbrella man,” who is believed to be a white supremacist instigator (see story here), is smashing an auto parts store’s windows during the initial Minneapolis riots after the police killing of George Floyd.

Return to The-Ave.US Home Page

0 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. White Right wing and caught. #

    If more of the violent white protesters turn out to be garden variety white supremacists, disguised as BLM protesters, such as Umbrella Man will charges still be forthcoming? Will Barr enact the entitled white-privilege get-out-of-prosecution card for drumpf supporters that were caught? After all, the white protesters are loyalists, with their party-above-country mantra, doing everything whether criminal or not that they can get away with to politically or violently discredit others. Better yet, drumpf could pardon some more criminals. Why not? All the while gloating over a Nobel peace prize nomination abroad while escalating chaos at home.