Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing featuring Attorney General William Barr was farce masquerading as oversight. Mr. Barr sat stoically as Democrats spat insults, hurled accusations, and asked long, loaded questions. When the attorney general tried answering, they screamed “I reclaim my time!” to cut him off. Bile, anger and disdain were evident in almost every one of their interrogatories. Chairman Jerrold Nadler led a show trial.
The attorney general wasn’t the only Justice Department official heard from recently. Last Friday Brian Moran, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, eloquently explained why additional federal agents had been summoned to Seattle after rioters broke into the federal courthouse there, set a fire, and tagged the walls with graffiti.
Mr. Moran drew attention to the building’s name: the William Kenzo Nakamura U.S. Courthouse. The son of Japanese immigrants, Nakamura was 20 when he and his family were interned with other West Coast Japanese-Americans by President Franklin Roosevelt in February 1942.
Yet the next year, Nakamura took the oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” as he joined the U.S. Army’s famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, composed entirely of Japanese-Americans. On July 4, 1944, in central Italy, Pfc. Nakamura attacked and destroyed an enemy machine-gun nest and then volunteered to cover his platoon’s withdrawal, engaging a second machine gun before being killed. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously, one of 21 soldiers in the 442nd to be so decorated.
U.S. Attorney Moran decried the people who attacked the Nakamura Courthouse, saying they “are not protesting anything; they seek only to disrupt and destroy, and through their acts, they dishonor Private Nakamura’s memory and his extraordinary sacrifice for his country.”
Something similar could be said about events in Portland, Ore., where rioters attempt night after night to burn down the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse.
A decorated World War II Navy veteran and Oregon’s youngest governor, Hatfield served for 30 years in the Senate, where he was one of the first Republicans to oppose the Vietnam War. Respected by colleagues in both parties, he was eulogized in 2011 by Oregon’s Democratic governor for his “moral compass, independence and willingness to reach across the aisle.” The attacks on the courthouse bearing his name similarly dishonor his service.
Joe Biden and other Democratic luminaries like to pretend all that’s happening in Portland is “peaceful protests.” That’s hardly the whole story. What’s also happening in the Rose City are violent late-night assaults on the country’s governing institutions in an attempt to undermine the rule of law. Russia and China could only hope to be as effective in damaging the U.S. and its global image as the thugs whose work we’ve seen for almost nine weeks.
Nor is this the handiwork of both far-right and left provocateurs, as former Democratic National Chairman Donna Brazile claimed Monday. If there were right-wing nuts leading this violence, the liberal mayors and governors in Oregon and Washington would have been condemning it. This lawlessness was created by America’s political left.
Fearing the party’s progressive wing, Democratic Party leaders don’t condemn the nightly violence. That could be a problem. A June 5 CNN poll found 69% of Americans felt “the violent protests that have occurred” are “unjustified.” In the almost two months since, that number is likely to have risen in cities where the mayhem has continued.
Mr. Biden speaks frequently of “leadership” and “unity,” almost always to decry President Trump’s failure to provide either. But if Mr. Biden wants to provide leadership and promote unity, why hasn’t he specifically decried the Portland and Seattle violence? Why has he never called on their mayors to protect the courthouses with local police? Why won’t he urge the leaders of peaceful protests to end their silence and join in denouncing the violence?
Instead, he offered a milquetoast statement Wednesday saying “Arsonists and anarchists should be prosecuted” and “local law enforcement can do that” without one word criticizing the attacks in Portland and Seattle.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration seems to have negotiated with Oregon’s governor to obtain a robust state police presence in Portland to protect federal facilities.
By failing to challenge the violent left forcefully, Mr. Biden is likely to lose ground with the political center, with voters who are sick of the nihilism they see on their nation’s streets.