By: Luke Harmuth
In response to the riots and looters (as opposed to the peaceful protests resulting from the murder of George Floyd by a police officer), President Trump announced on June 1 that he would mobilize military forces to assist in halting the spread of violence.
“If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you…”
That was a quote from a recording of Trump’s phone call with state governors on the necessity for repressing the riots and destruction and vandalism of private and public property.
Whether or not this decision was justified, it is always important to keep a close eye on the government whenever it uses military personnel against its civilians. After it is initially used, people expect it the next time these acts happen, which in turn normalizes the use of troops against civilians who are deemed acting in a way that displeases the society.
This is not to say that an authoritarian action is never justified on the basis of being authoritarian, though the usage of the term triggers a negative emotional response in the average person. An authority figure or institution without the capacity for an authoritarian action is unlikely to maintain order and stability. Take governments, or areas where the law enforcement has a reputation of not arresting individuals for breaking the law (which is a reflection of social norms encoded into enforceable law), there is an increase in the crime rate in those areas.
This step towards authoritarianism, expanding what is allowed by the government by the collective’s psyche, cannot be blamed on a single entity. Rather, it is a combined effort by the ones causing the unrest, and the ones calling for order. Groups that help organize violence (though they do not consider destruction of buildings as violence) such as ANTIFA and BAMN.
ANTIFA stands for Anti-Fascist, and are known for their authoritarian methods of shutting down events involving right-wing personalities, especially at universities. ABC ran a segment of the events at U.C. Berkeley when the group gained massive media attention. Watch their 2 minute coverage here. U.S. News reported on June 1, 2020 President Trump announced that the United States would designate it as a terrorist group.
BAMN stands for “By Any Means Necessary” and are encouraging more riots, which they claim are protests and marches, while simultaneously announcing:
“SPREAD THE FIERY
SPIRIT OF MINNEAPOLIS
BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY”
as their heading for their “rally” in East Oakland under a picture of rioters burning a building on their official website. (Also see their pamphlet from their official google drive displaying the same announcement and picture.)
Groups such as this embolden the far-right extremist groups as well, which could justify an argument from society to increase the power of the government as a result. These groups, extremists on both sides, are used as an example by politicians for why the power of the government should be added upon, and normalize the use of excessive force on civilians. Without them, the people in power would not have a reason to increase that power with the consent of society, and this is how emergency powers are granted. A state with emergency powers can be dangerous, and the state (people with the power) will not readily give them up.
Doctrine and Covenants 121:39 “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”