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If Unity Was His Mission, General Mattis Failed

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Mead Gruver

As classical scholar Bruce Thornton has argued recently, “We have been witnessing for decades now the erosion of that foundational principle central to our own political order. Progressivism has relentlessly worked to create a technocracy that concentrates and centralizes power in an elite, weakening the checks on ambitious power provided by federalism and divided government.” This technocracy is the double whammy of high tech and the MSM working in concert against our duly elected president.


Their collaborative power and influence has brought forth a new threat that neither the House’s impeachment cabal or the Covid-19 pandemic were able to bring the end to Trumpian America.

Four-star General James Mattis is a true American hero and a marine’s marine. He was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal twice, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Valor, among other military honors. He also served as Commander of the United States Central Command during the Obama administration and later as Secretary of Defense for the Trump Administration. He is a man of principle and integrity. When he recently penned his editorial piece to the New York Times, however, he sadly missed the mark. If his mission was to write something to inspire and unify Americans, this is one time the General did not achieve his objective. The issues he chose to highlight in his editorial piece afforded him the opportunity to foster unity, but he did not.  

Mattis noted that “equal protection under the law” was “precisely what protestors were demanding.” This was a great opportunity for him to ask the protestors to march with the purpose that ALL LIVES Matter. The shouts and placards claiming only Black Lives Matter is racist by the very context of the statement. It excludes all other people of color, even the color white. The general could have been a very persuasive voice that pushed ALL Lives Matter, especially given that, as The Federalist reported, at least 330 police officers were killed or wounded during the George Floyd riots.


Mattis could have expressed sympathy and support for black athletes and their call for equal justice. As a highly respected military leader, he might have called upon General Collin Powell to join him in respectfully asking black and white athletes at their sporting events to find another time or venue to express their protests, rather than during the playing of our national anthem which was originally written and played to pay tribute to all those in our nation who have served, sacrificed, and died in the defense of what is best in the United States.

Rather than being appalled at President Trump’s use of federal troops to maintain peace and order, he could have noted that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, authored the Insurrection Act of 1807, to deal with civil unrest that threatened law and order. As a student of history, he could have pointed out that both Jefferson and Madison believed in the strict interpretation of the Constitution. He could have pointed out that President’s Jefferson, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson had used the act to suppress civil disorder. He could have thrown his full support behind peaceful assembly and protest, and his full condemnation of the riots and the destruction of property that have occurred. He could have noted that in the face of such civil disorder, President Trump would not only have authority but would have followed precedence in using the Insurrection Act and called for the immediate cessation of all forms of violence or property destruction.


Mattis’ letter asserts that Trump is the first president in his lifetime “that does not try to unite the American people ---- and doesn’t even try.” It appealed to rioters and progressives but was not a statement on which national unity can readily be built. Unquestionably there is a major division between conservatives and Democratic progressives. Mattis certainly has experience in brokering truces between warring factions. This would have been a good time for him to outline a few principles that he has used in the past to call for a political ceasefire. He may rightly feel Trump is a very divisive president, but many believe that President Obama was equally divisive and even created a fifth column to plague Trump and his administration.

Mattis’ loose reference to Trump and the Nazis in trying to divide and conquer was the pot calling the kettle black and unfortunate. If he was determined to compare Nazi efforts to sow division, he might have compared the Nazi Ministry of Enlightenment and Propaganda to our Mainstream Media. Both organizations focus on stirring emotions and promoting political agendas rather than presenting objectivity and truth. The Covington incident is one of myriad examples of the mainstream media dividing America, not uniting it.

Mattis made note of Trump’s immature leadership. No argument there. As a wise former associate of the president, however, he could have noted some redeeming qualities or attributes and encouraged him to build and act upon them. A hand stretched out and offered as help may have served as an example of the maturity and goodwill needed among all leaders.


Mattis ends his letter by calling for the American people to unite. One would hope and believe that this is the true apolitical objective of the revered general. In this case, the tactics for which he is so often honored failed to meet this objective. Instead of uniting factions, others just started piling on and intensified the rift and pain among the American people. The rioting and looting didn’t stop. General Mattis’ little known nom de guerre to Marines was “chaos.” His Times editorial has lived up to his moniker and stoked the fires rather than bridge differences.

But may it be said of all, presidents and generals alike, “When someone does something wrong, don’t forget all the things he did right!” (Anonymous)

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