Some Kind of Gestapo

She warned him not to include it in his speech. The language would be seen as an incendiary attack on the institutions of the nation. 

But he was stubborn and felt his instincts, which had been right when so many others’ had been wrong, were true.

So Winston Churchill, on June 4, 1945, ignored the importuning of his wife, Clementine, and harshly criticized the Labour and Socialist parties of the United Kingdom in a campaign speech.  

No Socialist Government conducting entirely the life and industry of the country could afford to allow free, sharp, or violently worded public discontent. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo, no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance.  And this would nip opinion in the bud; it would stop criticism as it reared its head, and it would gather all power to the supreme party and the party leaders, rising like stately pinnacles above their vast bureaucracies of civil servants, no longer servants and no longer civil.

The effect of the speech was as devastating as a hand grenade, dropped at one’s own feet. The disgust of the British public at the comparison of domestic political parties to the just-defeated Nazi enemy swelled. 

Not only that, the policies of mass organization and suppression of speech required by socialism were similar to the policies of wartime Britain. The British people were accustomed to them, and they wanted the fruits Clement Attlee’s socialism promised. 

One month later, on July 5, 1945, the British people voted Winston Churchill and his Conservative Party out of office, giving the Last Lion a bare 36 percent of the popular vote.  

After the election, Clementine sought to console Churchill saying, “Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise.” Churchill retorted, “At the moment, it seems very well disguised.”

What Churchill had said was true. And he had paid a heavy political price for it.  

What Donald Trump said on January 6, 2020 may have been ill-advised. His supporters, who had come from far and wide and gathered in the nation’s capital to protest an anomalous and procedurally corrupted—if not demonstrably fraudulent—election, were in a state of high anxiety. And he told them, at an end of a rally at which he laid out, in clear specific terms, his political case for the disqualification of electors:

So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give . . . The Democrats are hopeless. They’re never voting for anything, not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.

What followed was a breakdown of security at the Capitol, and several hours of unrest as protesters entered the building, frightened the whole of Congress, disrupted the counting of and objections to the electoral votes, and left one protestor, an unarmed woman, dead from a gunshot while four others, including a member of the Capitol Police, are now dead from as yet undetermined causes. While the unrest paled in comparison to this past summer’s national rioting in scale, duration, and lives lost, it was nonetheless unfortunate, tragic, and wrong.

Like Churchill, Trump immediately paid a heavy price for his words. Democrats and Republicans alike blamed him for the events, demanded he be removed under the 25th Amendment, and then impeached. Republicans excoriated their fellow Republicans who, when counting resumed, continued to object to electors.

Like Churchill, what Trump had said was true. If we do not have elections in which a reasonable person could have confidence, if the courts wisely or unwisely will dismiss all challenges on procedural grounds, if the bar will generally decline to represent such challenges, then the remedy is political, to be dealt with in the state legislatures, in the Congress, and, yes, in orderly civil protest. 

This is all the president asked for. If you are against protesting election fraud, and you oppose election reform, then you, not the president, are the threat to the democratic elements of our rapidly fading form of government. 

What has followed has been an unprecedented crackdown. The tech monopolists moved to suppress the speech of the president and his supporters. In a coordinated manner they have undertaken to disable Parler, a free speech platform outside of their immediate control, but nevertheless dependent on their services.

Democrats and media, and many Republicans, referred to the unrest as an “insurrection” and “attempted coup.” Even the insurrectionist voices on far-Left radio’s “Democracy Now!” refer to the event as an insurrection. (This tells you a great deal). 

Yet if this had taken place in any other country, the headline would have been “Security Forces Kill Woman In Election Fraud Protest.” As I write this the speaker of the House, a wealthy, detached, and irresponsible 80-year-old, is inciting the public with outlandish claims that the president must be prevented from using nuclear weapons before he departs on January 20.

Democrats, with the help of many Republicans, appear to be falling back on some kind of Gestapo, and I won’t credit it with being directed humanely in the first instance.

 

About Jay Whig

J. Whig is an attorney practicing in New York and a resident of Connecticut specializing in insolvency and restructuring. Opinions are his own.

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

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