Chauvin is found guilty on all charges, but Democrats demanding justice keep amping up the violent rhetoric. Fight? More confrontational? Demanding a verdict in an independent court case? Defying local government orders? Wasn’t this the kind of thing we called inciting an insurrection just a few short months ago?
For obvious reasons, tensions surrounding the just wrapped up trial of former Police Officer Derek Chauvin, found guilty of killing George Floyd last May, are high. The tragic incident, captured on unforgettable viral video, is already considered the spark that set major cities across the United States on fire last summer, resulting in billions of dollars in damages and hundreds of deaths. As Derek Chauvin was having his day in court, protesters were starting to gather again even before the verdict was in, amid renewed and perhaps even increased tensions in the wake of similar stories about black men dying at the hands of police.
Maxine Waters is a radical firebrand in Congress, known for inflammatory statements and pulling no punches. She’s also a sworn officeholder in the Federal government, obligated by oath to uphold the laws of the land. Fortunately or unfortunately, between the two extremes she often lets her radical side take over. Thus, last Saturday night, in Brooklyn Center Minnesota, where a 13-year old black child, Daunte Wright, was recently killed under disputed circumstances, she found herself in the middle of a firestorm of her own making.
“We’ve got to stay in the street and demand justice,” Waters said to reporters and the crowd. “We’re looking for a guilty verdict and we’re looking to see if all of the talk that took place and has been taking place after they saw what happened to George Floyd. If nothing does not happen, then we know that we got to not only stay in the street, but we have got to fight for justice,” she continued.
Reporters then asked her what should happen if Chauvin is found not guilty. Ms. Waters replied, “We got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.” She was also asked whether she agrees with the curfew local authorities have put in place to help tamp down the almost nightly violence. “I don’t think anything about curfew. Curfew means I want you all to stop talking. I want you to stop meeting. I want you to stop gathering. I don’t agree with that,” she replied.
Fight? More confrontational? Demanding a verdict in an independent court case? Defying local government orders? Wasn’t this the kind of thing we called inciting an insurrection just a few short months ago?
Bear in mind, Ms. Waters made these remarks after 100 people were arrested the previous evening alone. According to CNN, “protesters began shaking barricade fencing near the precinct and hurling objects at officers.” Even the liberal-leaning news outlet admits the so-called peaceful protests “have at times boiled over into chaos,” including “setting off fireworks” and toting “sheets of plywood, shields and containers of a liquid believed to be bleach.”
The arrests on Friday night were a crackdown after a potentially deadly scene on Thursday, when protestors tried to breach a local police station, as in they tried to take over a government building, once upon a time the stuff of insurrection as well. “Tearing down a fence, coming armed to a protest, is not in my mind befitting a peaceful protest. It is not befitting groups that are there to recognize the tragedy that is the loss of Daunte Wright,” Minnesota’s public safety commissioner, John Harrington, explained at a news conference.
In sum, there is no way that Ms. Waters wasn’t aware of the potential for additional violence, not to mention the dangers of interfering with an ongoing case before a jury.
The judge’s condemnation was swift. Judge Peter Cahill referenced Ms. Water’s comments on Monday from the bench, noted that she “may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.” He continued, “I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function. I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect a coequal branch of government. Their failure to do so, I think, is abhorrent…”
Perhaps needless to say, condemnation from Republicans was equally swift. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell noted, “It’s harder to imagine anything more inappropriate than a member of Congress flying in from California to inform local leaders, not so subtly, that this defendant better be found guilty or else there’ll be big trouble in the streets.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the obvious connection between “more confrontational” and “inciting violence,” issuing a statement stating that “we’ve heard this type of violent rhetoric from Waters before, and the United States Congress must clearly and without reservation reprimand this behavior before more people get hurt.”
Also perhaps needless to say, Ms. Waters Democrat colleagues promptly circled the wagons. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told CNN that there is no need for Ms. Water’s to apologize, explaining “Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement. I myself think we should take our lead from the George Floyd family.” She continued, “They’ve handled this with great dignity and no ambiguity or lack of misinterpretation by the other side. No, no, I don’t think she should apologize.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also excused the remarks, “I don’t think she meant violence…She’s never advocated violence. She, she is a passionate — she believes in her issues.”
The mainstream media seemed equally nonplussed. While covering the story at least somewhat, they were also quick to call Republicans hypocrites. CNN, for example, noted that “The criticism from Republicans is striking, however, following the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol in January,” as if one had anything to do with the other and Republicans, including Mr. McConnell and Mr. McCarthy, didn’t swiftly condemn the violence and President Trump himself.
Ironically, though Ms. Waters was interfering in a legal case and encouraging violence aimed at government buildings, there was no mention that she might be an insurrectionist or that she was fomenting any kind of rebellion. In the meantime, the very same articles kept accusing Trump of doing exactly that, for using the same “fight” theme language and demanding a political outcome he found desirable.
CNN continued this type of coverage into Tuesday morning with an “analysis” from Stephen Collinson that claimed “they also drew out the hypocrisy of pro-Donald Trump Republicans over incitement to violence, even calling out McCarthy personally, “it’s also hard to underestimate the sanctimony of Trump-enablers like McCarthy.” Amazingly, Mr. Collinson’s lead story section was all about Republican hypocrisy, actually titled “Republicans have their own double standards.” Claiming, “They’re not giving Waters, a veteran of the civil rights movement and its marches and protests, similar benefit of the doubt.” Then concluding, “The instant and politicized controversy that erupted over remarks by Waters in Minnesota probably complicated efforts to seek unity and political remedies once the jury returns a verdict.”
I shouldn’t have to point out the complete lack of self-awareness in Mr. Collinson’s gripe that the controversy was “politicized,” but it should be pointed out that these aren’t the first inflammatory comments from Ms. Waters or Democrats in general. In 2018, she famously encouraged people to harass Trump administration employees. “Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere. We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents.”
Nor was she alone, Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others have all implicitly or explicitly encouraged violence in recent years. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, for example, infamously connected achieving political goals with rioting, “If you’re trying to call for an end to unrest, but you don’t believe that healthcare is a human right, you aren’t willing to say ‘Black Lives Matter’… then you aren’t asking for an end to unrest. If you don’t ask for those things, all you’re asking for is the continuation of quiet oppression.” In addition, she posted a helpful guide to protesting safely that included no mention of being non-violent and even added that you should not bring “anything you don’t want to be arrested with.”
But why should the facts matter at this point? The mainstream media has long since lost interest in anything resembling the truth or objective reality. They are completely in the propaganda business now and whether or not Trump was routinely condemned, whether or not any other Republican has condoned or encouraged violence, or how frequently the Democrats do just that, is of no interest to them.
Instead, the story must serve two purposes: Excuse Ms. Water’s bad behavior, give cover to their fellow progressive travelers, and smear Republicans. This is not surprising, though it remains shocking how brazenly and routinely we witness the spin cycle in action.
My take is pretty simple: Free speech is free speech. I encourage Ms. Waters to speak her mind, and, as the old saying goes, politics ain’t beanbag. She’s not an insurrectionist, she’s a rabble rouser, and those sorts of characters have a long and rich tradition in the United States. I would simply ask for the same standards to be applied to conservatives, while knowing that’s never going to happen when there is a narrative to craft and an agenda to push.