Imagine taking a bottle of the hottest hot sauce you can find — one made with ghost peppers or some other capsicum equally high on the Scoville scale of heat intensity — and splashing a healthy portion into your eyes.
Even just picturing that action in your mind may make you recoil in sympathetic pain at the very idea, but that imagined feeling is what many protestors confronted by militarized police and National Guard units around the country felt for real when they were doused with pepper spray in the primarily peaceful protests that have taken place over the past two weeks.
Attorney General William Barr, however, would have us believe that “pepper spray is not a chemical irritant” as he told host Margaret Brennan on CBS’s Face the Nation this morning.
According to The Hill, “Park Police issued a similar denial last week before later walking it back.”
Perhaps Barr considers pepper spray more of an all-natural, vegetable irritant, rather than a chemical one.
It would sound so much better to the suburban housewives — a constituency that the president has been losing the support of in droves — with that euphemistic moniker.
Since he was appearing on CBS, the attorney general took the time to attack that network on what he considers to be its “completely false” report that Donald Trump had earlier this week demanded that 10,000 active-duty troops be deployed to cities across America in violation of the law except in the direst of national emergencies.
“The decision was made to have at the ready or on hand in the vicinity in the vicinity some regular troops,” Barr told Brennan, but “everyone agreed use of regular troops is a last resort.”
“I think our position was common, which was that they should only be deployed as a last resort. And that we didn’t think we would need them. I think everyone was on the same page,” the attorney general said, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper and General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in his “we.”
CBS‘s Brennan confirmed that the network stands by its reporting about Trump’s demand for the troop deployment — and its rejection by Trump’s military advisors — after the segment with Barr was broadcast.
Barr has disclaimed the widely circulated reports that he was the person who had ordered the clearing of peaceful protestors from the area around Lafayette park near the White House in order to enable Trump’s Bibe-brandishing photo op earlier this week, denying that he was “involved in giving tactical commands like that.”
Still, he seemed unrepentant about what happened, responding to a question about what he might have done differently in response to the protests by saying:
“I haven’t studied the events retrospectively in detail, but I think in general, you had the qualified law enforcement officials with shields warning and moving a line slowly. They had mounted officers moving slowly, directing people to move. And most people complied.”
Apparently, that’s the impression one gets when one’s view of the protests comes via Fox News coverage of the events at hand.
It’s also likely the source of Barr’s contention that America’s law enforcement agencies do not deserve the accusations of systemic racism that have been leveled against them.
“I think there’s racism in the United States still but I don’t think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist. I understand the- the distrust, however, of the African-American community given the history in this country. I think we have to recognize that for most of our history, our institutions were explicitly racist. Since the 1960s, I think we’ve been in a phase of reforming our institutions and making sure that they’re in sync with our laws and aren’t fighting a rearguard action to impose inequities.”
Yep, our Attorney General thinks the problems have all been solved.
Now, move along before the police are forced to use a vegetable irritant against you.
You can watch excerpts from Attorney General William Barr’s appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation in the videos attached below.
You can read the full transcript here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The methods they used you think were appropriate, is that what you're saying?
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) June 7, 2020
“I think there's racism in the United States,” AG Bill Barr tells @margbrennan.
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) June 7, 2020
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.