Some of us are old enough to remember the 1982 song “Dirty Laundry” which referred to the sensationalism of all news media. The phrase “don’t air your dirty laundry in public” refers to discussing private thoughts that maybe shouldn’t be shared with everyone outside those involved.
Seems like we’re getting a lot of dirty laundry right now all ‘round.
On Wednesday this week retired U.S. Marine Gen. and Forder Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued a statement via The Atlantic slamming President Donald Trump’s response to George Floyd’s death and in particular Trump’s comments regarding the use of the military to quell the violent protests if need be.
When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.
The ”bizarre photo op” he referred to was President Trump’s walk from the White House across Lafayette Square to the historic St. John's Church, which had been desecrated by fire the previous night. Trump held up a Bible in front of the church which some found provocative.
We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.
Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.
Well, today, the laundry got dirtier.
John Dowd, a former U.S. Marine who later served on President Donald Trump’s legal counsel, had his own response, which was shared by President Trump.
I thought this letter from respected retired Marine and Super Star lawyer, John Dowd, would be of interest to the American People. Read it! pic.twitter.com/I5tjysckZh— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2020
Dowd said he had “slept on” Mattis’ remarks criticizing Trump and “woke up appalled and upset.” To Mattis, Dowd said “[I] Never dreamed you would let a bunch of hack politicians use your good name and reputation—earned with the blood and guts of young Marines.”
“The phony protesters near Lafayette park were not peaceful and are not real. They are terrorists using idle hate filled students to burn and destroy,” Dowd wrote. “They were abusing and disrespecting the police when the police were preparing the area for the 1900 curfew. Jim, this is the new nihilism.”
“Did you forget that President Bush used active duty Marines to quell the riots in LA? President Trump has countless cities and some snowflake governors and mayors wetting themselves in the use of force to protect innocent lives and property,” Dowd wrote. “The AG of Massachusetts thinks burning property is good protest. Three more policemen were stabbed and shot in NYC last night. Think about it. Should he be upset about the obvious failure of leadership? Where are you Jim?”
“No one divided this country more than Obama. He abandoned our black brothers and sisters. He gave guns to the cartels. He apologized for our precious sacrifice and generosity overseas.
“President Trump has done more to help our minority brothers and sisters in the three years than anyone in the last fifty. Ask the black pastors. Ask the leaders of the black colleges and universities. He got them funded. Ask them about the prison reform which ended the draconian sentences imposed on young black men by the laws enacted by Biden and his hacks. You need to bone up on your homework and stop listening to Uncle Leon.”
We are living through challenging times, of that there can be no doubt. We are not the first generation to go through it; won’t be the last, and we are not the greatest.
But we may be the angriest.