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How do we think about the George Floyd murder?
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The age of American authoritarianism is approaching

President Trump's call for political leaders to crush riots with violence signals a sharp turn towards authoritarianism. As riots tore across America, Trump sanctioned a violent attack on peaceful protestors by military and police across from the White House.

The Argument

President Trump’s reaction to the rioting over George Floyd’s death has been authoritarian. Senators and other public figures have voiced their concerns about a number of his actions. The President appears to show sympathy for far-right militias who have clashed with protestors during the riots. He has also received criticism for tear-gassing protestors during a photo-op. Trump’s use of military force against protestors US was nearly unprecedented in the US.[1] Some global powers— including Russia and China—have highlighted a series of human rights abuses during Donald Trump's tenure. Among their accusations are the use of military force against unarmed protestors, police murders, and the weaponization of armed protesters who support the President.[2] Trump's justification for the use of military force to protect against a small group of militant radicals is a tactic commonly used by dictators.[3] The New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, has raised concerns that Donald Trump believes himself to be above the law. She has stated that he does not have the right to deploy the military across the US to deal with protests and should be taken to court[4]. His actions are the actions of a dictator.

Counter arguments

President Trump's actions are proportional to the disorder caused by the protesters. US Attorney General William Barr has defended the President's actions as a necessary preventative measure to deal with a group of anarchists and left-wing radicals.[5] Violence cannot be tolerated and force is a justifiable response. The anti-fascist organization Antifa has been inciting violence and hijacking the protests. The President has stated he is only taking "law and order" measures to prevent the spread of violence. Trump's behavior is utterly dissimilar to the human rights abuses that occur in other countries; journalism and free debate are still open in the US.[6] The US is still a free society, but the radicals protesting are a more significant threat to liberty than President Trump.



[P1] The government response to the rioting over the George Floyd murder has been disproportionate. [P2] President Trump’s course of action is similar to other authoritarian leaders past and present. [C] America is sliding toward authoritarianism.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] A strong response is needed to tackle violence caused by militant protestors.


This page was last edited on Monday, 9 Nov 2020 at 22:57 UTC

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