President Trump’s critics spent much of this week handwringing over his request to put two tanks on the National Mall as part of his Fourth of July extravaganza to celebrate the U.S. armed forces.
As part of the celebration, which will include military flyovers and performances from each military branch, Trump requested that tanks be stationed at the mall.
Throughout the week, two M1A2 Abrams tanks, as well as two M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, were spotted being transported on a flatbed truck to the Mall.
Lawrence Tribe, a Harvard University professor, compared the two tanks on the Mall to the Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989.
“The resemblance to days before Tiananmen Square is chilling,” he wrote, suggesting that a brutal military crackdown was on the verge of occurring.
The resemblance to days before Tiananmen Square is chilling. https://t.co/cFJJZzL4F7
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) July 2, 2019
Comedian Bill Maher called the tanks part of a “Dictator Checklist”:
Tanks in the streets now? Shall we review the Dictator Checklist? You're a narcissist who likes to put his name on buildings…you appoint family members to key govt positions..your rallies are scary…you threaten to lock up political opponents..your friends are other dictators
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) July 2, 2019
A Time editor-at-large tweeted, “Putin’s America,” along with a video a passerby captured of the two Bradleys being transported in:
Putin’s America. pic.twitter.com/27aN81jiRw
— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) July 3, 2019
He later seemed to back down, adding, “I love the people who are trying to explain to me that armed vehicles have been spotted in America before. I’m aware of that. It’s just Twitter. Chill.”
A Libyan-American writer tweeted in response to the two Bradleys: “Bonkers. It’s like footage from a war zone.”
Bonkers. It’s like footage from a war zone. https://t.co/YM9JyQw3Br
— hend amry (@LibyaLiberty) July 3, 2019
Some even suggested, with four to six armored vehicles in Washington, that a “coup d’etat was in progress.”
Tanks, troops, military equipment on the streets of Washington all suggests there’s a coup d’etat in progress. https://t.co/Mi8XGlfOGP
— Ned Gill III (@nedgill3) July 4, 2019
A New York Times columnist suggested the country was drifting “toward the unimaginable” — with “tanks in the nation’s capital”:
Let this sink in:
There are tanks in the nation’s capital and concentration camps at its border.
The drift to toward the unimaginable is unmistakable.
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) July 3, 2019
However, as a handful of defense journalists pointed out, there are armored vehicles every year in Washington, during the U.S. Army’s annual Association of the U.S. Army conference and its Army Ten Miler expo.
I was literally just about to tweet this. Tanks and tactical vehicles show up with regularity in D.C. every October. https://t.co/ej4QBk9Znt
— Hope Hodge Seck (@HopeSeck) July 3, 2019
This Breitbart News reporter captured a photo of a Patriot Missile Launcher that was in Washington, D.C., for the expo in October 2017:
— Kristina Wong 🇺🇸 (@kristina_wong) July 3, 2019
Follow Kristina Wong at @kristina_wong.