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the mobocratic spirit

Last summer James Bennet was sacked as Opinion editor of the NYTimes because he authorized an opinion piece suggesting the military should be called in to quell urban riots. Thursday 1/7/21 Mr. Bennet was the guest writer for Politico’s daily newsletter:

“You may have last seen me getting bounced out of The New York Times for running an opinion piece by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) arguing for the use of military troops to prevent the rioting that accompanied some of the peaceful protests over the summer. As our editorials made clear, I disagreed with Cotton then (that’s one reason I supported running the piece). And so I hope it doesn’t make me a hypocrite now to say that I wish the military had been out in force Wednesday to stop the rioting and protect what Biden called the ‘citadel of liberty.’”
According to reports the National Guard was to be stationed near the Capitol on Wednesday, until Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser insisted they be unarmed. A commanding officer ordering defensless troops into action could be subject to court martial. So, the National Guard was not on the scene when, according to Sen. Cotton, “The mob outnumbered and overwhelmed Capitol Police and Secret Service at the Capitol, despite their commendable efforts to maintain control.”

Sen. Cotton wrote the president heedlessly goaded the crowd on the mall, after some Republican politicians had spent a week encouraging the deceptive, un-Constitutional illusion that Congress could overturn the results of a national election.

Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) was pressured to join those objecting to the vote count by proponents who admitted it was political theatre with “no chance” of success. Thursday 1/7 he wrote, “I have lived my entire life with and alongside people who fled political violence and instability. Yesterday made America look like the countries they came here to get away from. It was a national embarrassment.”

Innocent citizens are the most immediate victims of mobs, but they aren’t the ultimate target. Mobs attack government buildings, private property and public monuments because they are symbols of civilization. Attacks on these symbols demoralize citizens, shaking faith in the society. Victims of mob crime are the most tragic casualties, but there are other unrecognized victims: the elderly afraid to leave their homes, mothers afraid to take children to parks, citizens afraid to exercise free speech, entrepreneurs afraid to launch a business.

Mobs can result from the breakdown of civic order, and they can feed that breakdown.

Abraham Lincoln identified what we’ve witnessed these past months as “the mobocratic spirit” that degrades “the attachment of the people”— the spirit of community necessary to preserve a republic. Lincoln insisted “there is no grievance that is a fit object for redress by mob law.”

Leaders who indulge mobs, embolden mobs. Humble followers of Christ afford no room for a mobocratic spirit of any stripe. ~

Dan Nygaard