With summer now blessedly, mercifully upon us once more, we can be comforted not only by the lazy, hazy crazy days it delivers without fail but also by the thought that, no matter what happens, this summer could never be as frightful as the one we survived just one year ago.
It was almost enough to make full-blooded Americans crave, for the first time, true authoritarian rule. Blood was running in the streets, against the haunting backdrop of a deadly virus that had brought the nation’s spirit to its lowest ebb since 9/11. And no one would stop it. Even the 45th president, labeled a dictator by his deranged enemies, was ultimately forced to stand by helplessly as America went up in flames. All thanks to arguably the most cynical and twisted political strategy witnessed in our lifetime: Democrats and the left refusing to act or even acknowledge the scorched-earth rampage, while bellowing about racial injustice, granting implicit permission for mobs of criminals to run roughshod across the land. Joe Biden and company followed the script masterfully.
It was the summer of 2020, gone but never to be forgotten, forever to live in infamy — and shame.
All that was on the mind of the Democrats and deconstructionists was weakening the grip of a president already on the ropes from the first pandemic in 100 years. The strategy was transparent, and the killing of George Floyd provided a tailor-made pretext for a party and movement already given over to radical notions. Pander shamelessly to Black Lives Matter activists — and the rioters they spawned — bow to their every demand and thus glorify and elevate a largely unknown but organically Donald Trump-hating fringe group to a household name overnight.
We have all heard the many claims by BLM and its apologists that the demonstrations they inspired were “mostly peaceful” and that violent insurrectionists infiltrating the otherwise harmless protests were responsible for the chilling specter of barbarians laying siege to America’s great cities. How many people believe that? Hard to say, but the peaceful protesters and any who infiltrated their ranks generated violent mobs in city after city. The lowest and most emblematic point may have come when protesters showed up at a hospital in Los Angeles and had this to say about the cops who’d been hospitalized after a brutal ambush by the very people the mob was upholding: “I hope they f—-ng die.”
Amid the metastasizing violence across urban America, which begged — begged — for an unyielding police presence, came the most jaw-dropping response imaginable: defund (meaning abolish) the police — based on the actions of a single cop — regardless of how out of control the insurrection had become. This undoubtedly strikes normal people as perhaps the most cynical, cowardly, and inexplicable political strategy they have ever witnessed.
It would be one thing to conclude that those on the left responded as they did simply because of weakness or pure cowardice. It is quite another to realize, in the fullness of time, that it was a calculated willingness to trash the safety, security, and livelihoods of countless thousands of people for the sake of political expediency.
But the breathtaking part is that the strategy worked. Trump was vanquished. Mission accomplished. All the rest stands merely as collateral damage.
What does it say that the race hustlers of the left apparently knew that some — or many — of their own must have been involved in the bloody uprising? If that wasn’t true, why were Biden and company so dead set on remaining silent as America burned? The only other possible explanation is that these progressive leaders actually enjoy violence, not exactly a comforting thought.
While Biden and national Democrat leaders were the linchpins for such a perverse plan of action, Mayors Ted Wheeler of Portland and Jenny Durkan of Seattle should by most accounts be viewed by historians as the warped face of the nightmare year of 2020. Durkan projected a “summer of love” and Wheeler refused to lift a finger as a massive slice of Portland’s most thriving downtown neighborhood was occupied by guilt-ridden, largely white activists by day and savages on the warpath terrorizing innocent civilians by night. Add the vision of American cities being overrun by gangs of miscreants, mass shortages of supplies as basic as toilet paper, and the widespread toppling of historic statues (the left again remaining silent), and we understood what life must be like in a war-torn banana republic.
We all experienced hell of one sort or another through the summer of 2020. I will forever have etched in memory the chilling comment of a local contractor who escaped the ruinous civil war in El Salvador, as he observed the collapse of law and order on the streets of America: “This is exactly how the war started in my country.”
The insurrection required the largest military response other than war in U.S. history. More than 30 states and D.C. activated more than 90,000 National Guard, State Guard, 82nd Airborne, and 3rd Infantry Regiment service members.
At least 25 people died in the siege. Countless others were injured. Property damage was incalculable. Well over $1 billion was paid out by insurance companies, though the actual damage is, of course, exponentially higher. For perspective, the last time such insurance figures were tabulated for a “civil disorder event” was in the wake of the much-chronicled riots in Baltimore, following the killing of Freddie Gray in 2015. The total paid out was $25 million — about 1/50 of the price tag for the summer of 2020.
Since the death of George Floyd, violent crime has soared — by more than 70% in Seattle, more than 50% in Chicago and Boston, with other major cities not far behind. More than 5,000 New York City cops left or retired in 2020, a 75% spike from the year before. Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch says it is not hard to understand, because the ruling Democrats, from Mayor Bill de Blasio to the city council, have deliberately weakened the city’s law enforcement. Lynch told the New York Post: “They’ve kept our pay absurdly low. They’ve ratcheted up our exposure to lawsuits. They’ve demonized us at every opportunity.”
But numbers hardly do justice to the psychological trauma visited on normal Americans, and the harm to all the people who spent years building lives and businesses, only to see it all go up in smoke at the hands of anarchists, nihilists, and Marxists cashing in on their rare moment in the spotlight. And why would they stop when they were granted tacit approval — and race-based justification — to continue their rampage by the left and the Democratic Party?
Add it all up, and it’s a wonder any of us were able to maintain our sanity through the most torturous summer this country has experienced in perhaps 100 years.
Perhaps the most galling part of all is that no price will be paid and no lessons learned from this. Quite the opposite. While cities were burning, and Trump was preposterously blamed for the almost subhuman level of bloody insurrection on top of an election-year pandemic, the media collective shamelessly laid all the blame at his feet to great effect. Too many beleaguered Americans accepted most of what they consumed from the major media, especially when it became an endless drumbeat. All of which means we can expect more of this same withering strategy in the years ahead.
To those of us who watched the pain-inducing, slow-motion death of Floyd at the hands of the now-convicted murderer Derek Chauvin, it seemed that whatever reaction that incident provoked could not be more unnerving than the killing itself. But we were dead wrong. In fact, the devastating cynicism of the left writ large and the Democrats in particular, who stood by and watched it unfold, while refusing to utter a word to stop it, denounce it, or even blame it on a few bad apples, may well be viewed by objective historians as a shameful act. Rivaled only by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who said privately, in a recorded conversation released many years later, that we could not win the Vietnam War, but he could not pull out for political reasons.
Ask the families and loved ones of the more than 50,000 Americans who perished in that fool’s errand what they think of Americans being sent to die in an unwinnable war on the other side of the world. And ask the entrepreneurs, community leaders, shop owners, and terrified citizens fleeing their own neighborhoods and cities what they think of Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, and all the rest remaining silent as their way of life went up in flames.
Was there ever a time you were more ashamed to be an American?
Read more from Tim Donner.