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Confused US Right are going against everything they stand for over the George Floyd fallout, including their beloved Constitution

Andrew Dickens
Andrew Dickens

Andrew Dickens is an award-winning writer on culture, society, politics, health and travel for major titles such as the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Independent, the Daily Mail and Empire.

Andrew Dickens is an award-winning writer on culture, society, politics, health and travel for major titles such as the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Independent, the Daily Mail and Empire.

Confused US Right are going against everything they stand for over the George Floyd fallout, including their beloved Constitution
Conservatives have always relied on simple, populist ideas to gain power. But a situation as nuanced as the aftermath of the Minneapolis homicide has exposed the innate contradictions and weakness of their arguments.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life was simple? Clear lines between right and wrong, uncomplicated taxes, a truly effective 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner. The world is a chaotic and complex place so we naturally crave anything that makes things it neat, convenient and easy to understand.

It’s this desire that the Right have always tapped into. They like to keep things simple for people. Good and evil, black and white, them and us. But the situation arising from the death of George Floyd has got the Right flummoxed, tripping over their own basic beliefs because, news flash, it’s a complex matter.

When Floyd was killed, the Right were less vocal. Racism isn’t only found on the right, but history tells us that it’s more at home there. The creation of an “other” to unite against is one of the Right’s most potent tactics and this “other” is often defined along racial or religious lines.

While some voices were heard in support of Derek Chauvin, the officer now charged with Floyd's murder, much of the Right probably saw this as “bad optics”. Publicly they either kept schtum or referred to the “tragedy” of George Floyd’s death. Some might even have believed this.

Then the peaceful protests started in Minneapolis and things began to change. Suddenly, every simple message the Right like to espouse was being contradicted – by the Right.

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A festival of political contortionism came to town, with views being twisted so badly out of shape that some of the older fellas must have slipped a disc. We’ve all accused someone of having their head up their own arse, but that move is nothing compared to the knots the Right were tying themselves into.

The American Right, such staunch defenders of the US Constitution, suddenly became less comfortable with its First Amendment allowing the protestors to peacefully assemble. These advocates for “small government” were happy to see a downpour of state-funded rubber bullets on the gathered crowd.

Then things started getting really messy. A cocktail of violence spilled over and saturated the US. Police brutality, armed gangs, citizens injured and killed, shops looted, buildings and cars burned, tear gas in the air. The Right’s contradictions and contortions got supersized. 

“Americans should have the right to bear arms,” they usually say. “But obviously not these Americans,” they now say, pointing at the protesters. “Down with federalism,” they usually say, but now it’s, “Bring in the army!”

“Personal liberty is great!” they usually say, but not very loudly at the moment. Now it’s more, “curfews are great!” Freedom of speech? Nah, let’s just label ideologies “terrorist.”

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What about a free press? They hate CNN, the mainstream media, and professional journalists in general, but they also claim to hate the idea of a police state. So when journalists get arrested by the police, should they applaud or condemn? Well, it turns out a police state is perfectly fine, so more police power and aggression, please.

There’s one man who’s doing more than any other to urinate on his, his country’s and his political kin’s beloved Constitution. A man who, while physically capable of nothing more supple than a wristy bunker shot, is bending everything he allegedly defends out of shape. President Donald Trump.

He’s warned that “looting” will lead to the “shooting” of US citizens. He’s called for draconian, authoritarian measures, the kind that the Right normally accuses China, Iran and Russia of adopting. He’s threatened to set the US military on its own people.

His latest move was to tear-gas peaceful American protesters so that he could have his photo taken with a borrowed Bible in front of a church that didn’t give him permission to be there and whose bishop called his actions “antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.” Going against the wishes and teachings of the church, Don? Not very Conservative Christian, that.

But perhaps his most nefarious move is to drop the T-bomb: Declaring his aim to make “Antifa” a “terrorist” organisation. When the Right want to create an “other” – an “enemy of the people” –they often slap on the “terrorist” label. So, some consistency there, at least. But what Trump and his followers have done now could have repercussions into a very dark future.

They’re trying to outlaw ideas, let alone free speech, in the supposedly free US. “Antifa” isn’t an organisation, it’s an ideology. If you make anti-fascism an offence, then you’re making an opinion illegal. I mean, it’s not the first time the US has done that, as any socialist in the 1950s could tell you, but this is dangerous stuff that is turning the US Constitution, the one the Right so often wave in our faces, into toilet paper.

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But what about the violence and the burning? I agree, some people declaring themselves under the “Antifa” banner are violent pricks, but this is a country in which the Ku Klux Klan – an actual organisation – isn’t deemed “terrorist”. And let’s not forget what ignited this mayhem. If people committing violent and illegal acts condemn everyone associated with them as “terrorists,” then what of the police?

The FBI’s own definition of domestic terrorism reads, “Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.” Which, by the way, is the Boston Tea Party in a nutshell.

And what about Trump himself? The Oxford English Dictionary defines a “terrorist” as “a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”

Ridiculous, right? Yeah. But this is the stage we’re at: The Right are going against everything they claim to stand for because their lack of nuance and critical thinking, their deliciously simple recipes for life, simply don’t work in a complicated world. And they’re panicking.

Throwing labels around as distractions from their confusion and taking a “tough” stance will work well on some people, it’ll work temporarily on others, but when the dust settles most are going to see the twisted mess that remains. And it ain’t gonna be pretty.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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