In a profanity laced diatribe, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough demanded the arrest of President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Donald Trump Jr. for insurrection. Scarborough declared “If Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump are not arrested today for insurrection and taken to jail and booked . . . then we are no longer a nation of laws and we only tell people they can do this again.” What he is suggesting would be the very antithesis for the rule of law.
Scarborough also struck out at the police as racist for not shooting the protesters:
“If these insurrectionists were black, they would have been shot in the face. And my god, if these insurrectionists were Muslim they would have been sniped from the top of buildings. So I want to know from the Capitol Hill police — what, is it just white people? Or is it Donald Trump supporters? Why do you scream at people for walking across the street three blocks away from the Capitol? Why are you known as these badasses around the Capitol? But then Trump supporters come in and you open the f—— doors for them. You open the doors for them and let them breach the people’s house. What is wrong with you? Are we a nation of laws? Are we a nation of one man?”
CNN’s Jake Tapper also argued that this was racial double standard and that, if the protesters were black, they would have been crushed by police.
Trying to politicize this tragedy is fundamentally wrong. Scarborough ignores that police in various cities have been criticized in past violent protests by groups like Black Lives Matter for standing back and not intervening. Prosecutors were criticized for dropping charges against many protesters. Protesters engaged in days of violence and arson outside of the White House before former Attorney General Bill Barr ordered the Lafayette Park area cleared. He was criticized for both the order to clear the area and (more legitimately) the degree of force used. Scarborough was one of those who denounced the use of force, which was justified after officials feared the breaching of the White House complex security.
I certainly agree that the Capitol appeared utterly unprepared for this protest. That will be the subject of investigation. However, the breach of the Capitol happened quickly after a protest that was peaceful for hours on the mall.
The call for the arrests however are beyond the pale. Many of us of criticized Trump’s speech as he was giving it. Many of us opposed the challenge made to the electoral votes. That however is not the crime of insurrection to call for a protest march on Congress. We have seen violent protests on the left and the right being led by instigators from groups like Antifa and Proud Boys.
I previously wrote in opposition of declaring Antifa a terrorist organization or labeling left-wing protesters “seditious.” Such efforts would gut protections of free speech under the First Amendment. The same is true with Scarborough’s Siren’s call. If we start charging people for insurrection for reckless political speeches, we will truly “no longer [be] a nation of laws.”