Trump must call out his fringe before the worst happens
Suddenly, it is not a joke — it’s the furthest thing from funny. The unthinkable morphs into the plausible. There are always red flags, tipping points. There are fuses that, once lit, can’t be extinguished. I’m talking about the event last weekend in Texas, followed by bizarre social media postings, that should make any rational American citizen’s blood run cold.
At the “For God & Country Patriot Roundup” in Dallas, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was one of the featured speakers. During a question and answer session, someone from the audience asked him, “I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can’t happen here?”
Now, what happened in Myanmar was a coup d’état. And Flynn, briefly former President Trump’s national security adviser, told the crowd, “No reason. I mean, it should happen here.”
On Feb. 1, the military in Myanmar seized power and imprisoned the country’s democratically elected leaders, because of allegations of voter fraud. Hundreds were killed during the coup and thousand arrested in the months following. As surreal and frightening as it may sound, the alleged “voter fraud” in Myanmar and its military’s response to it apparently has become a rallying cry for some Trump supporters who still believe that President Biden stole the election and that Trump remains the “legitimate” U.S. president who must be returned to that office.
The general’s words, posted in a video on Twitter, should cause your blood to run cold. All of a sudden, it seems like “Dr. Strangelove” spins up some MAGA supporters. If you haven’t seen the 1964 movie starring Peter Sellers — spoiler alert — it ends with the annihilation of the United States and the world.
Soon after his Dallas comments were reported, Flynn categorically denied on social media that he was advocating for a coup in the United States. He posted on Parler: “Let me be VERY CLEAR — there is NO reason whatsoever for any coup in America, and I do not and have not at any time called for any action of that sort. Any reporting of any other belief by me is a boldface fabrication based on twisted reporting at a lively panel at a conference of Patriotic Americans who love this country, just as I do.”
Although some on the left may not want to hear it, Flynn did serve our nation with distinction and, to some, he did seem to be unfairly targeted and smeared by partisan operatives within our government looking to damage Trump and his administration. You may recall the four years of drama involving Flynn: He resigned his position, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and later was pardoned by Trump.
That said, even if we agree to take Flynn at his word, when watching the video of that Q&A in Dallas, it’s clear that the audience believed he was endorsing a coup as they erupted in applause. That there exists even the smallest undercurrent of such a completely un-American coup fantasy in the minds of some citizens is the stuff of nightmares. It’s a fuse that must never be lit.
But, since nation-destroying ideas seem to be in vogue these days, we next have Twitter exchanges about the coup-advocating/coup-denying moments. CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan tweeted: “Talk of a Myanmar-style coup in the United States has been popular among some Trump supporters and QAnon believers for months.”
In response, Maggie Haberman, of the New York Times, tweeted: “Trump has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will be reinstated by August (no that isn’t how it works but simply sharing information).”
On the face of it, Haberman’s claim is disturbing for a host of reasons, and it could be interpreted by some people as a signal that there really is something afoot that could reverse the 2020 election. Is her claim hearsay, or does Haberman know for a fact that Trump has said this?
These incidents, conversations and speculations could rise to become a direct threat to the United States. No doubt, there are millions of Trump supporters out there who believe that he was wronged in the election and will never accept Biden as their president. That’s fine, but they should stop whining and do the correct thing by finding and supporting candidates who best speak to their vision — candidates who should come to power only through free and fair elections.
Enough is enough with the “stolen election” mantra. It clearly can lead to a dark, dangerous place and must be shut down. Only one person has the power to stop this in its tracks: Donald Trump. For the good of our republic, he should quickly condemn all talk of a “coup” and encourage his followers to peacefully and legally work within our political system to make their voices heard. That is what patriotic Americans do.
Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.
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