Against the James Mattis Personality Cult

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Whatever the former defense secretary’s motivations for speaking out now, his hypocrisy is on full display. It is well past time he retired from public life entirely.By Josiah Lippincott • June 7, 2020Few men who climb the rungs of power in our political establishment escape with their character uncorrupted. Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s June 3 letter to President Trump displays the consequences to a man’s soul when he allows the longing for honor and wealth to rot his reason and moral sense.As a fellow Marine veteran, I cannot let his words to the commander-in-chief go without remark.Mattis’s reputation carries far too much weight with America’s fighting men. They need to see the truth: that whatever his organizational acumen and swagger, at heart James Mattis is just another establishment D.C. power player. His pious moralizing cannot hide his role in perpetuating and advocating policies ruinous for the country while enriching himself personally.Mattis’s letter displays his real character. For one, it begins with a lie. He wrote of President Trump’s proposal to send in the military to contain riots: “Never did I dream that troops . . . would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.”This is disingenuous. There is a long-standing precedent for using the military to contain domestic insurrection and disturbances. From the Colorado Coalfield War to the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, federal troops have been used throughout our history to keep order when local and state governments lose control.Mattis said Americans must not “be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers” among the Black Lives Matter protesters. But how could we possibly ignore the wave of violence, looting, and rioting that cost more than a dozen lives, including the life of a federal officer guarding a U.S. courthouse?There is nothing “unifying” or “wholesome” about this behavior. The federal and state governments must defend the citizens’ right to life and property.