“They were vicious … That shows you the power of strength”

Chinese soldiers fire on student protesters in Tiananmen Square, June 3, 1989.
Chinese soldiers fire on student protesters in Tiananmen Square, June 3, 1989.

 

As anti-Trump protests continued for second night in cities across the country, we should recall the president-elect’s past praise for the Tiananmen Square massacre in when the Chinese government slaughtered hundreds of student pro-democracy demonstrators on the night of June 3-4, 1989.

In a 1990 interview with Playboy, Trump was asked about his impressions of the Soviet Union after an unsuccessful trip to Moscow to try to make a hotel deal:

I was very unimpressed. Their system is a disaster. What you will see there soon is a revolution; The signs are all there with the demonstrations and picketing. Russia is out of control and the leadership knows it. That’s my problem with Gorbachev. Not a firm enough hand.

The interviewer pressed him: “You mean firm hand as in China?”

When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.

In one of the early Republican debates all the way back in March, Trump defended his Playboy comments:

I was not endorsing it,” Mr. Trump said. “I said that is a strong, powerful government that put it down with strength. And then they kept down the riot.

As the New York Times pointed out the next day, Trump’s use of the word “riot” to describe the pro-democracy protests was exactly the same characterization the Chinese government used in justifying their use of lethal force to quell the demonstrations.

After January we will get to see how a Trump presidency will respond to peaceful opposition to his policies and resistance to the forces of hate and bigotry his election has unleashed.

The paranoid, self-pitying, and defensive reaction he posted to Twitter last night does not inspire confidence.

The militias are ready for Nov. 9

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Michigan’s militias are ready for Election Day, and what comes after.

Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins next Tuesday, the militia movement isn’t waiting to prepare for what comes next. They’re ready now.

The Reuters news agency today reported on a Georgia group called the Three Percent Security Force* which was conducting training operations in the woods near Jackson, a small town southeast of Atlanta near the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge.

As the most divisive presidential election in recent memory nears its conclusion, some armed militia groups are preparing for the possibility of a stolen election on Nov. 8 and civil unrest in the days following a victory by Democrat Hillary Clinton.

They say they won’t fire the first shot, but they’re not planning to leave their guns at home, either.

In a video that accompanies the Reuters report (unfortunately I cannot embed it here) the leader of this particular group, a paralegal named Chris Hill who goes by the codename “Bloodagent,” said his group expects violence whatever happens on Election Day.

Back in Georgia, the Three Percent Security Force wrapped up rifle practice in the midday sun. They then headed further into the trees to tackle an obstacle course with loaded pistols at their sides, ready for whatever may come.

“We’ve building up for this, just like the Marines,” he said. “We are going to really train harder and try to increase our operational capabilities in the event that this is the day that we hoped would never come.”

Meanwhile, closer to home, at least two Michigan militia groups — the Michigan Militia Corps Wolverines and the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia — have scheduled a training day for this coming Saturday in Lapeer, about an hour’s drive from where I live.

The second group, SMVM, has scheduled a meeting for Nov. 9 to “discuss the next 90 days after the election and the future of this nation.” Or, as their promotional material puts it, “The 9th of November: A Perfect Storm Arrives in 2016.”

I’ve been writing about these groups a lot lately. Like here. And here. And here. And again here. There’s good reason for it. They are an increasingly visible part of this deeply disturbing election season.

But most importantly, while few in number, they are more than enough to cause a lot of mayhem. And some of them are itching for the opportunity.

*Some militia groups include the phrase “Three Percent” in their name, or describe themselves as “Three Percenter” militias in reference to their claim that during the American Revolution only three percent of colonists took up arms against the tyranny of British rule. They see themselves as the equivalent today. They maintain a robust online presence which you can look up for yourself. The Anti-Defamation League first wrote about them in 2009, about a year after the first Three Percenter groups emerged on the militia scene.

This week in terrorism history: Oct. 30 – Nov. 5

Campaign mailer from the Kansas Republican Party.

 

Two weeks ago, three members of a right-wing militia in Kansas were arrested and charged with plotting a terrorist attack on an apartment complex where Somali immigrants lived and maintained a mosque.

To understand the climate of fear and bigotry that could inspire and nurture such a plot, look no farther than the above campaign literature produced the Kansas State Republican Party and mailed throughout the state.

A story in Friday’s Witchita Eagle explains:

The Kansas Republican Party is sending out mailers in legislative races around the state depicting ISIS fighters and explosions from terrorist attacks.

A mailer going to homes in east Wichita’s House District 88 shows an ISIS fighter holding a machine gun with a message that reads: “Have you met the new neighbors?”

The other side of the mailer touts Republican Rep. Joseph Scapa’s support for funding to train Kansas law enforcement officers to “recognize and deal with foreign and domestic threats to our state, from those who support ideologies that are in conflict with the U.S. Constitution and our Kansas values.”

Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, said that similar mailers were being distributed in competitive districts across the state. He also argued that their party’s polling and focus groups indicated that this was a “positive issue for Republicans” to run on in next week’s election. Barker rejected any suggestion that the mailer’s imagery sent an anti-Muslim message.

Barker pushed back at the idea that voters would interpret the “new neighbors” message on the mailer as a suggestion that Muslims living in Kansas posed a terror threat.

Barker said there are several variations of the mailers. One depicts an explosion from a terrorist attack.

“It’s one of the few (issues) that was a clear, like high 80 percent positive and associated with Republicans,” Barker said. “Most other issues are muddled, or this is not the year for Republicans to be arguing education or taxes because there’s a general feeling either Republicans aren’t effective or the voters aren’t quite sure who to believe.

“This one’s a clear hit. And I’m not saying it’s going to flip every race in Kansas, but it’s going to help.”

And now on to this week’s look back at this week in terrorism history:

  • Oct. 30, 2000 — Spain: Judge and two aides are killed and more than 30 wounded in an ETA car-bomb attack in Madrid.
  • indira-gandhiOct. 31, 1984 — India:  Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in the aftermath of the Indian Army’s Operation Blue Star, a military operation to seize control of the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, Punjab, from an armed Sikh group.
  • Nov. 1, 1950 — United States: Two Puerto Rican Nationalist Party members attempt to assassinate Pres. Harry Truman in Washington, D.C.
  • Nov. 2, 2000 — Colombia: ELN (National Liberation Army) releases 21 remaining hostages originally kidnapped from Cali two months earlier.
  • Nov. 3, 2010 — Sudan: Justice and Equality Movement engages in combat with paramilitaries in Nyala, Southern Darfur State, killing 37 and wounding 30 more.
  • Nov. 4, 2001 — Israel: Palestinian Islamic Jihad stages shooting attack on a Jerusalem bus; 35 are wounded, one U.S. citizen is killed.
  • Nov. 5, 2009 – United States: Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan kills 13 and wounds 29 in a shooting at Ft. Hood, Texas.

The end is near …

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And by that I mean the end of this year’s tragedy/horror show/circus/train wreck/national disgrace series of presidential debates.

Trump and Clinton square off for the final time on stage in Las Vegas (fitting somehow) tonight, and since throughout this process I’ve strongly urged my students to do their civic duty and tune in, I’ll be watching it too.

As a viewer, there are all kinds of ways to prep. I’m going to follow the lead suggested by the brilliant Wiley above. You might want to as well.

Or you could follow some of the links below:

NPR gives us four things to look for in tonight’s debate. And during the debate they’ll be producing live transcripts and real-time fact checking.

The New York Times also has a preview and summary of the themes they will be watching for in tonight’s debate, from Clinton’s struggle to sound human to the possibility that Trump will take his time at the podium to burn the GOP to the ground.

Finally, if you’re not sure where to find the debate on TV or radio, or if you’re one of those youngsters who consumes all media via streaming the Internet across the screen of your smartphone, Vox has your complete guide to how to watch. You can also read their preview take on the role of tonight’s moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, here.

So buckle in folks. See you on the other side.