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Marshal Ney

Treating rivals as enemies has been an identifying characteristic of the Trump administration. Trump has been at pains to denounce Democrats collectively as enemies. He’s denounced with relish the American press (like CNN) as enemies of the people. He knows such incendiary rhetoric inflames his base. He knows it divides Americans, which has made it easier for Trump to rule.

When you denounce your political rivals and the press as not just your personal enemies but enemies of the people, you’re setting the stage for violent actions. Trump’s stage-setting reached its logical culmination with the riots at the U.S. Capitol. Some of the rioters acted like an invading army, planting their own flag, attacking the police, occupying “enemy” offices, even looting. A few apparently contemplated political assassinations of their “enemies.” Having swallowed Trump’s lies, they apparently believed they were the patriots even as their activities amounted to a violent attack on Congress as it attempted to do its job in certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.

Trump instigated and incited a rebellion against Congress and violated the Constitution. His rebellion failed. Is it not time for him to pay a price?

Trump and his followers failed in their cosplay coup. Some of the rioters are being tracked down and arrested. Trump himself has already been impeached by Congress for inciting the riot. What should Trump now do?

It comes down to this: Trump instigated and incited a rebellion against Congress and violated the Constitution. His rebellion failed. Is it not time for him to pay a price?

I have a suggestion from history for Trump, a man who is much impressed by his own bravery. (Recall when he claimed he’d rush in without a weapon to take on the armed shooter at Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida.) Mister Trump, learn from Michel Ney, the “bravest of the brave,” the famous Napoleonic marshal who, when he was sent to arrest Napoleon after his return from exile, joined him instead — and paid the ultimate price.

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Napoleon and Ney, of course, had their Waterloo. Napoleon was sent yet again into exile, this time much further away from continental Europe, never to return. How did Ney pay for his treachery — his rebellion? He commanded his own firing squad.

When you turn against your government, and when your rebellion fails, you should be prepared to pay for it. Ney knew this. And he met his death with courage.

I have it on the very best authority — Trump’s own words! — that he’s a brave man. With typical hyperbole, he’d probably add he’s the bravest of the brave. In that spirit, then, I urge him to follow Michel Ney. Man up. Give the order that Ney gave unblindfolded:

Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you … Soldiers, fire!

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I know: Trump commanding his own firing squad? Unlikely indeed! Much more likely is Trump fighting to the last dying gasp — of Rudy Giuliani. And then not paying his estate for services rendered.

WJ Astore
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