Chris Cillizza writes about Donald Trump’s disregard for the law in a CNN article about the president and Rex Tillerson. Rule of law in this country disappeared when we started torturing people, defended the practice, and even bragged about it. Someday someone who understands social psychology better than I do will explain how false flag attacks, fake wars, fear, and numerous other currents dispose of law as a source of both institutional and personal restraints. President Trump is not unusual because he cares so little for the law. Diminished law made him a powerful person.
Let me add, I don’t mean our twenty-first century wars have themselves been fake. I mean the premises for these wars are false. When you gin up reasons for war disconnected from the truth, you base your actions on lies too big to grasp. We saw that phenomenon during the Vietnam war in the 1960s; we see it again now. Law cannot survive among lies like that.
New York Democratic politician Allard Lowenstein wrote about both Kennedy assassinations in a 1977 essay titled, “Robert F. Kennedy and Power in America.” He wrote these words three years before colleague Dennis Sweeny murdered him in 1980:
Robert Kennedy’s death, like the president’s, was mourned as an extension of the evils of senseless violence . . . a whimsical fate inconveniently interfering with the workings of democracy. What is odd is not that some people thought it was all random, but that so many intelligent people refused to believe that it might be anything else. Nothing can measure more graphically how limited was the general understanding of what is possible in America.
The second half of this passage applies to the way our country responds to the September 11 attacks. If we expand our conception of what is possible, we may grasp how we reached this point in our history. We may see why Donald Trump does not lie outside our current norms.
Among other things, law is a procedural concept, not a human one. Human beings regulate most of their affairs without law. Some of our affairs – for convenience, predictability, security, and justice – we place within a legal framework. When we place administration of cruelty under the law, we do not have law any more, just power.