by John Reiss
CGG Weekly, April 9, 2021
"Appeasers believe that if you keep throwing steaks to a tiger, the tiger will become a vegetarian."
The Free Dictionary gives us a definition of appeasement: "The policy of granting concessions to potential enemies to maintain peace." An Internet search for examples of political appeasement brings up literally millions of returns about Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940, who used appeasement with liberality to try to prevent the spread of war in Europe. He assented to Italy's authority in Ethiopia and kept England out of the Spanish Civil War. True to his character, he also sought to abandon British naval bases in Ireland.
Three times in September 1938, Chamberlain met with the German Fuhrer, Adolph Hitler, to prevent the expansion of war in Europe. Hitler promised not to seek additional territory if the allies would return the Sudetenland to Germany. After World War I, the victors had taken this mountainous region as part of the dismantling of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the Munich Agreement, Chamberlain and Premier Edouard Daladier of France surrendered to Hitler's demands, leaving Czechoslovakia vulnerable and unprotected.
On Chamberlain's return to England, the crowds welcomed the Prime Minister with adulation as he waved the treaty and famously declared, "Peace in our time!" Yet, almost six months later, in March 1939, he was forced to renounce the agreement after Hitler invaded the remaining parts of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain then rushed to assure the nations of Poland, Romania, and Greece that England would defend them militarily if the Third Reich also invaded them, and in the following month he began the first peacetime military draft in Britain's history.
To his credit, when Hitler invaded Poland that September, Chamberlain declared war on Germany. But it was too little, too late, because, in this world, appeasement never works.
We need not look far into the past to find other examples of the failure of appeasement. In late May 2020, following George Floyd's death in police custody, riots broke out in several cities across America and continued every night for more than three months. Despite widespread lawlessness, local leadership gave in to the agitators' demands, choosing to ignore their sworn duties and legal responsibilities to serve and protect their constituents and their property.
As an example, the protests in Portland, Oregon, began on May 28, 2020. Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said that rioters smashed windows, started fires, and looted several businesses downtown in addition to assaulting officers with commercial-grade fireworks. According to Newsweek, the cost of the damage and cleanup to federal buildings alone was at least $2.3 million.
Thousands of protestors showed up night after night, demanding a defunding of the police department. By June, the Portland City Commissioners attempted to placate them by voting 7-1 to reduce their police budget almost $16 million, but it was not enough for some. US News and World Report relates that some actually called for defunding the police by more than three times that amount—up to $50 million!
The riots continued unabated through the summer and well into fall, before ceasing for a time then resuming on New Year's Eve. In a press conference, Portland's mayor appeared dismayed that his attempts to mollify the protestors failed, complaining to reporters, "My good faith efforts at de-escalation have been met with ongoing violence and even scorn from radical Antifa and anarchists." He later remarked, "Lawlessness and anarchy come at great expense and great risk to the future of our community. It's time to push back harder against those who are set on destroying our community, and take more risks fighting lawlessness." Again, Mr. Mayor, too little, too late!
Although the riots were ostensibly against the Trump administration, police brutality, and racial injustice, they continued even after President Joe Biden took office on January 20, 2021. Antifa marchers blasted the new president, and new anti-Biden graffiti emerged. Rioters carrying stun guns, pepper ball guns, and fireworks scuffled with police, re-damaging the Immigration and Custom's Enforcement building. Video from the latter protests shows marchers carrying signs reading, "We don't want Biden—we want revenge!" Another reads, "We are ungovernable."
A Twitter user summed it up very well: Referring to the continuing riots, he posted, "When you appease criminals to try to ‘get along', [sic] they see your weakness and take over." He closed by advising, "Peace through strength, not peace through weakness."
Yet, even as late as the end of February 2021, rioters once again smashed windows and damaged buildings. Yet this time, they did it because they were dissatisfied with the immigration policies of the new president.
In this world, appeasement never works. In Part Two, we will consider an ongoing example of this truism in a major American city.