The conventional wisdom congealing among elites in Washington, D.C., is that the ongoing riots in cities like Portland and Seattle are the result of otherwise peaceful protesters simply reacting to the presence of police and federal law enforcement. If these officers stood down or were simply removed, so the thinking goes, all would be calm.
Video footage and images of violent mobs setting buildings on fire, lobbing bricks and explosives, cutting through fences with blowtorches, and assaulting police and federal officers are all, according to this fashionable theory, merely evidence of the grave threat posed by fascist federal stormtroopers that Trump has unleashed on a quiescent populace.
As Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren put it during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, “People are showing up because the troops are there.” She was quick to add that most of them are nonviolent, which has become a kind of mantra adopted by Democrats and their courtiers in the mainstream press.
For their part, corporate media outlets have settled on variations of the phrase “mostly peaceful protests” to describe scenes of utter mayhem and violence. Over the weekend, ABC News and the Associated Press published articles saying “a peaceful demonstration intensified” in Oakland, California, after rioters set fire to a courthouse, damaged a police station, and assaulted police officers. Reporters and commentators routinely regurgitate the line that federal officers are “instigating” the violence (despite ample video footage showing otherwise).
In all of this, the assumption appears to be that the mere presence of law enforcement so triggers protesters that it turns them into a violent, rampaging mob. It doesn’t seem to matter if law enforcement, whether federal or local, is warranted—as it most certainly is in places like Portland. …