Monday, July 20, 2020

Shock Troops

Via NPR:

Oregon officials are lashing out at President Trump for sending federal agents into Portland amid the ongoing protests against police brutality and racism. Both the governor and Portland’s mayor told NPR the administration’s actions are nothing more than political theater meant to appeal to Trump’s political base in an effort to win reelection.

“As best as I can tell, this is an effort — a last gasp effort — by a failed president with sagging polling data, who’s trying to look strong for his base,” Mayor Ted Wheeler told NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro on Sunday. “He’s actually using the federal police function in support of his candidacy.”

For more than 50 nights, hundreds have gathered in the city’s downtown to protest racism and police brutality, following the killing of George Floyd. Last week Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that federal agents wearing camouflage and tactical gear had been pulling some protesters into unmarked vans.

In response, the state of Oregon said it would sue the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal law enforcement agencies. And multiple Democratic members of Congress demanded internal government watchdogs investigate the Trump administration’s “use of violent tactics” against peaceful protesters.

Portland’s mayor, Oregon’s governor and both of the state’s U.S. senators have said federal agents aren’t needed to deal with the civil unrest. Gov. Kate Brown has asked the Trump administration and the head of DHS to take their federal officers off the streets of Portland. “The Trump administration needs to stop playing politics with people’s lives,” Brown told NPR’s Michel Martin. “We don’t have a secret police in this country. This is not a dictatorship. And Trump needs to get his officers off the streets.”

If you think “shock troops” is too harsh a term, try this on and see if it fits.

“Shock troop” is a calque, a loose translation of the German word Stoßtrupp. Military units that contain assault troops are typically organized for mobility with the intention that they will penetrate enemy defences and attack into the enemy’s vulnerable rear areas. Any specialized, elite unit formed to fight an engagement via overwhelming assault (usually) would be considered shock troops, as opposed to “special forces” or commando-style units (intended mostly for covert operations). Both types of units could fight behind enemy lines, by surprise if required, however.

This is happening America in 2020, not Berlin in 1938.