Letters to the Editor: ‘Unbelievable!’ — Marines speak out against Trump’s authoritarianism

President Trump
President Trump walks from the White House through Lafayette Park after police forcibly cleared the area of peaceful protesters on June 1.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: I piloted Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson on Marine One. Later I transported impossibly young, always willing troops during the Vietnam War — the first conflict to generate nationwide protests from incensed young people. (“Mattis told the truth about Trump. Why won’t more Republicans?” editorial, June 5)

As a lifelong history buff, I’ve read countless books on this nation’s checkered military endeavors. Walking the Civil War battlefields and Normandy beaches made me appreciate Americans’ sacrifices on behalf of our values that were rarely questioned.

I have reached the age of 88 and am astounded by the behavior of the current administration and the indifference of much of the populace. We now have a foundering republic co-opted by an unprincipled president, a feckless cabinet and Congress, and this year’s rampaging global health pandemic.


A righteous rising against systemic racism is now under assault from paramilitary soldiers. Unbelievable!

This moment is antithetical to our democracy and the oath I swore to the Constitution in uniform so long ago. I will take some solace from the denunciation of my fellow Marine, retired Gen. James N. Mattis, of this egregious and unprecedented behavior and hope it proves pivotal.

Bruce Colbert, Riverside

The writer is a retired U.S. Marine colonel.


To the editor: I served 26 years in the United States Marine Corps. This includes being recalled to active duty twice after 9/11 to serve in Iraq.

It is because of this background that I can stand firmly with retired Marine Gens. Mattis and John R. Allen in expressing outrage over President Trump’s actions. Their intelligence, drive and professionalism are hard to describe to someone who has not experienced working with a Marine who has the wherewithal to achieve flag rank.

Our oath is not to a person but to the Constitution. When you take that oath and serve under it, you tend to read the Constitution and think about what it means and what it stands for. So, like Gen. Mattis, I was “appalled.” And, like Gen. Allen, I was “stunned” by what this administration did.


What is happening right now is an uprising against systemic racism, inequality and the denial of justice. Trump’s actions are in direct opposition to what must take place to set our country firmly on the path to fulfilling the ideals expressed in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

This is not a political statement. It is a visceral exclamation.

Louis Avila, Sherman Oaks

The writer is a retired U.S. Marine colonel.


To the editor: The use of federal troops to assist in handling riots is nothing new.

Following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, the Washington, D.C., police department was faced with crowds in excess of 20,000 people. President Johnson sent 11,850 federal troops to assist the beleaguered 3,100-man police force.

Johnson also ordered 5,000 regular Army soldiers to assist police in Chicago. When the state of Maryland determined that Baltimore was unable to control its riots, Johnson sent 5,000 troops to assist that city.

When police departments and the National Guard are overwhelmed, federal troops are sent in. The question is not if but when to use them.

Nathan Post, Santa Barbara


To the editor: Based on her agreement with Mattis, I cannot fathom why Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.) is “struggling” with whether to support Trump in the November election. Thinking as she does, her decision should be clear.

I’m tired of Trump and his sycophants, in this case Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), calling any criticism of Trump “unfair.”Really?

Barbara Luther, Orange