Sen. Marco Rubio ripped into politicians and so-called experts over their glaring double standard for Wuhan virus regulations and lawless mobs last week, and it was exactly the kind of boldness the GOP desperately needs right now.
During a Senate floor speech about racial discrimination, civil society, and the George Floyd protests, the Florida Republican didn’t hold back, putting into words what the silent majority has been thinking since anarchy began ravaging American cities weeks ago: “Where does it end?”
“It won’t end,” Rubio answered his own question, “because there is no way to satisfy radicals who only seek destruction.” Not only is this anarchy irritating, said Rubio, “It’s destructive, and it’s dangerous.”
His remarks weren’t hyperbolic. Riots across the United States have left small businesses and homes burned to the ground, people bleeding out on the street, stores ransacked, and civilians terrorized. Seattle’s police chief revealed quite a list of violent crimes that occurred in the city’s infamous “autonomous zone,” including murder, arson, burglary, assault, rape, and property destruction.
Rubio didn’t limit the scope of his remarks to just the riots, instead placing them squarely within the obvious context of the coronavirus — context the mainstream media has either neglected wholesale or twisted into near parody. Comparing the riots and COVID-19 responses reveals a double standards that kills the credibility of institutions and authorities in the eyes of Americans, Rubio said.
“Why would people trust public health experts who told them they had to lose their job or their business, that their kids couldn’t have a graduation, that their grandmother couldn’t have a funeral, but are afraid to say anything about crowds of people setting fires and looting businesses?” Rubio asked.
“Why would people trust local leaders who will close your business for having too many customers or threaten to arrest you for going to a park or to a church, but who stand by and do nothing when a mob vandalizes a monument, tears down a statue, or takes over an entire section of a city?”
Rubio continued, “Why would people trust a media that will shame them for going to the beach, for not wearing a mask in public, but portrays a mob of white anarchists attacking African-American police officers as just frustrated racial justice activists?”
It turns out, people don’t trust them. As professor Joseph A. Ladapo argued in the Wall Street Journal this week, “Political leaders and health officials have often invoked ‘science’ to justify decisions manifestly guided by their personal preferences. That costs them credibility.”
Rubio acknowledged the anger at Floyd’s alleged murder was justified, saying, “There is in my mind nothing more un-American than racial discrimination,” and that it’s time “for a full reckoning with racial inequities that still plague our nation.” But he didn’t stop there, distinguishing between righteous indignation and lawlessness, and calling out anti-American rogues for the radicals they are.
“The anti-American radicals don’t care about racial equality,” Rubio said. “And they will not stop as long as everyone is afraid to call them out for who and for what they are.” He continued:
As long as we fail to point out that those seeking racial equality and these radicals are not the same people, that the people committing this violence and carrying out this anarchy and this chaos are not the same people as the people who are rightfully asking for us to address racial inequality. As long as we fail to point that out, they will continue to hide behind this important and legitimate movement.
“It is time we stop being afraid to express the common sense of Americans of every race and every background,” Rubio delivered the final blow.
Anxious for the Fray
He’s right. What Republicans need to do — especially those occupying the halls of Congress who have so far engaged the culture war only through Twitter — is stop being afraid. Standing up for American ideals and progress and a true rendition of her history is more than mere common sense. It’s morally right.
When so many brave men and women have given the last full measure of devotion to ensure America can press on as the land of the free, striving toward its ideals and its brightest days, surely Republicans can muster enough courage simply to stand up and say things that are true.
No, you cannot tear down a statue of Teddy Roosevelt. Yes, America was born in 1776. No, the United States is not systemically racist. Yes, all men are created equal. No, silence is not violence. Yes, property damage is. Say it out loud. And then say it again.
As The Federalist’s Ben Domenech wrote yesterday, Americans aren’t thirsty for policy. They want to see the leaders they elected jump into the fray. “Republicans shouldn’t be running from this or avoiding the issue or playing at half measures. … Be the party of the Founding. Wrap yourself in the flag. Go to Mount Rushmore and pump your fist while the fireworks go off. Wear red white and blue. Be proud.”
Rubio said what needed to be said, and that’s a good start. Who’s next?