In a profane swearword, MSNBC presenter Joe Scarborough called for the arrest of President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump Jr. for rioting. Scarborough stated, “If Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump are not arrested and jailed and booked for riot today. . . then we are no longer a nation of law and just tell people that they can do it again. “What he is proposing would be the exact opposite of the rule of law.
Scarborough also hit the police out as racists for failing to shoot the protesters:
“If these insurgents were black, they would have been shot in the face. And my God, if these insurgents were Muslims, they would have been torn from the top of buildings. So I want to know from the Capitol Hill police – what, are they just white people? Or are they supporters of Donald Trump? Why are you yelling at people crossing the street three blocks from the Capitol? Why are you known as those capitol badasses? But then Trump supporters come in and you open the doors for them. You open the doors for them and let them break through the people’s house. What’s wrong with you? Are we a nation of law? Are we a nation of one man? “
CNN’s Jake Tapper also argued that this was a racist double standard and that if the protesters were black they would have been put down by the police.
Trying to racise or politicize this tragedy is fundamentally wrong. Scarborough ignores the fact that during violent protests in various cities in the past, police have been criticized by groups like Black Lives Matter for resigning and failing to intervene. Prosecutors have been criticized for bringing charges against many demonstrators. Protesters embroiled in days of violence and arson outside the White House before former Attorney General Bill Barr ordered the eviction of the Lafayette Park area. He has been criticized for both the order to evacuate the area and (more legitimately) the level of violence used. Scarborough was one of those who denounced the use of force, which was justified after officials feared breaches of the White House’s complex security.
I certainly agree that the Capitol appeared completely unprepared for this protest. That will be the subject of the investigation. However, the Capitol violation came quickly after hours of peaceful protest in the mall.
The call for arrest, however, is more than pale. Many of us criticized Trump’s speech when he delivered it. Many of us rejected the challenge of voting. However, it is not the uprising’s crime to demand a protest march in Congress. We have seen violent protests left and right, led by instigators from groups like Antifa and Proud Boys.
I have previously written against Antifa’s declaration as a terrorist organization or the labeling of left-wing protesters as “seditious”. Such efforts would improve the protection of freedom of speech under the First Amendment. The same goes for Scarborough’s siren call. When we start accusing people of insurrection for inconsiderate political speech, we really “don’t get any longer [be] a nation of laws. “