Email Ken Stallings   Riding the Tiger

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Sometimes a simple limerick can describe better an ongoing national tragedy than hours of analysis.  It's difficult to watch what has gone on for months, cities tearing themselves apart, hundreds of people suffering serious injury and even death, and billions of dollars of wonton destruction taking place, without wondering if hell has descended upon America.  It isn't hell, really.  It's the folly of certain people.  But, regardless, it seems fitting to offer up the simple lesson.

There was a young lady of Niger Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;  They returned from the ride With the lady inside, And the smile on the face of the tiger. -- William Cosmo Monkhouse

Who do these words most apply to?  It seems certain municipal leaders need a refresher course on who the enemy of liberty is, and who the protectors are.  Each day a new object lesson emerges, one that tries the patience and moral temperament of good citizens.  With 50 straight days of nightly looting, arson, illegal seizures of property, and assaults upon innocent people, the city of Portland, Oregon has descended into chaos.  Antifa has unleashed hell upon Portland, brazenly painting their circle A insignia throughout the city, just so everyone knows who is causing the mayhem.  Fed up with seeing nightly scenes of destruction, federal officials have taken the initiative, and upon Presidential orders, the Department of Homeland Security has deployed undercover federal law enforcement agents to Portland to arrest people on federal charges.

One would think that federal assistance to a beleaguered municipal police force would be welcome news.  For most residents fed up with the anarchy, it is welcome, and indeed the answer to their nightly prayers.  But, for some people elected to be leaders of Portland's government, there hasn't been enough suffering for them to place politics secondary to public order.  Despite the tribulations, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has issued "demands" to the federal government to, "Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city."  The mayor went on to make specious links between these overdue law enforcement actions and election related concepts like national polls.

The mayor made these idiotic statements the morning after Antifa and BLM thugs tried to storm a Portland police precinct, and tried to seize control of several blocks in the city.  His primary concern was not the lawlessness and violence, but instead the scene of undercover federal agents arresting some of the rioters.

First, the Portland mayor needs an entry level civics lesson.  Federal law enforcement isn't from another country.  It's not "your troops," as they work for all of the American people, not just some.  They are all our law enforcement agents.  With respect to Portland, it is an American city, belonging to all the American people.  E Pluribus Unum -- "Out of Many, One." is the national motto of the United States.  America is not some confederation of loosely bound states.  We are one nation.  What happens bad in Portland affects all of us, not equally, but still significantly.

How long to do we the people have to stand by and watch segments of America destroy themselves before we righteously defend life, liberty, and property?  It seems we've patiently waited more than long enough.

The Department of Homeland Security is not a federal military force.  They are a federal law enforcement agency.  If it seems strange that DHS has deployed undercover agents to restore order, it's only because what is happening in too many American cities today is extremely strange.  Municipal agencies have broken down, unwilling to enforce laws, secure the liberties of its people, and safeguard the future of their cities.

And yet, with segments of their cities literally in flames, these municipal leaders continue to play politics.  We appear to be witnessing a Biblical story from the Old Testament being played out real time before us.  Antifa and BLM are two organizations who are no one's friends.  They are of the same fascistic mindset as the black and brown shirts of 1920's and 1930's Italy and Germany.  And for those who think Communism is the polar opposite of Fascism, it isn't.  They are both blood cousins of the same totalitarian mindset, that are the mortal enemy of any Constitutional Republic.  And when these sorts of people run out of traditional enemies, they make up new ones, until they consume everyone, whether or not they end up with the smile of the tiger on their faces.

Let's go back to the basic facts.  The mayor and each member of the Portland City Counsel all took formal oaths of office, that read, in part, "I (name) do solemnly (affirm or swear) that I will support the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of Oregon and the Charter of the City of Portland and its laws;  I will faithfully, honestly and ethically perform my duties..."

Were these people capable of comprehending the English language when they took those oaths?  Moreover, when the hell did carrying out vital parts of a solemn oath become subject to the results of polling data?

One cannot support the Constitution of the United States, nor of Oregon, by allowing mobs of avowed anarchists to engaged in nearly two straight months of mass lawlessness.  Nor can one implement the concept of American Federalism by thinking of federal law enforcement as some invader, unwelcome and foreign.  These civic leaders are all in gross violation of their oaths of office, and should be removed by the Oregon governor, but she too is equally remiss in her sworn duties.  Kate Brown took her oath and it overtly requires her to "support the Constitution of the United States and of this state, and to faithfully and honestly discharge the duties of office."

After months of reminding all of these state and municipal leaders of their public duties, the President is now acting.  For many people, these actions by the feds should have started a long time ago.  For some, the feds should never act at all.  Two camps dominate the second category.  For some, we should sit idle and allow leftists run cities and states to burn themselves out of existence -- to allow a recreation of an Old Testament Biblical story.  For others, it is a case of thinking the rioters are "freedom fighters," trying to engineer an America that finally stands for something good.

These sort of people are insane.

We cannot morally sit by and watch large segments of America destroy itself.  Nor can we allow Antifa and BLM to usher in civil war in America, and make millions of Americans suffer daily from their cruelty.  Elections always matter, but this one upcoming in November bears unparalleled importance.  Abraham Lincoln was fully wedded to the idea that no one has the moral right to break America apart.  Any civic leader who takes an oath of office is a traitor if he or she uses that office to undermine Constitutional sovereignty.  The only thing that should outrage all Americans about federal law enforcement working undercover in some American cities, to arrest rioters, is that it ever became necessary.

Democracy does not give one a license to become lawless, nor to abandon public duty.  Federalism does not require the President of the United States to stand idle and watch America burn.  Enemies of the Constitution can exist in forms both foreign and domestic.  Sadly, in America today there appear to be many domestic enemies of our Constitution.  It is time now to take stock and measure the morality and intentions of municipal and state leaders.  Those who believe in America should be supported.  Those who appear to want to tear America apart should be removed from office immediately, and for some, placed on trial for violating the oaths they took.

But, there is something even more profound at work.  Kate Brown won re-election in 2018 with exactly 50% of the vote.  The Republican challenger earned just 43.9% of the vote.  The people of Oregon received the government that the majority voting there deserved to get.  What the feds are doing is protecting the liberties of all Oregonians.  This November, the people of that state need to take stock of their own values and dreams and decide what kind of people they want leading them.  We cannot step in every single time the people of a state elect unworthy people to public office.  Neither can we stand idle and watch measurable parts of their state burn.  Between the conflicting nature of those two clear truths, there lies the fuzzy path that we as a nation must pursue.

We have waited several months for local leaders to fulfill their public oaths.  If they continue to fail, then federal law enforcement, and perhaps our military, need to step in and secure liberty for all citizens.  That's the same dire dilemma that Lincoln faced in 1861.  For some, the historic lesson of Fort Sumter has worn away, and with it the stark terms of the national tragedy that befell America for the four years that followed that horrible day of April 12, 1861.  The previous December in 1860, the governor of South Carolina acted as though the soldiers in Fort Sumter were invaders, writing then President James Buchanan, "I regard that possession is not consistent with the dignity or safety of the State of South Carolina."  Those words ring eerily similar to those of Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. 

We should all hope that it ends much better than it did for the nation on April 9, 1865, when Lee surrendered to Grant, cementing the sad legacy of 700,000 slaughtered.  That's the price one can pay when engaging in the folly of riding the tiger, and in truth, no one is left smiling.

-- Ken Stallings

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