By Akin Ojumu

Mark Esper served as Defense Secretary in the Trump administration. He was one of the Trump’s officials who took the walk of shame on June 1, 2020, from the grounds of the White House through Lafayette Square to the historic St. John's Episcopal Church where Donald Trump hoisted the Bible upside down for a photo-op, after forcefully dispersing peaceful demonstrators with smoke canisters, riot shields, pepper balls, and horses to pave the way for a walk that lasted less than 20 minutes.

Esper, who served as Trump’s Pentagon chief from July 2019 to November 2020, has written a new book about his experience in Trump’s tumultuous administration. The book titled, “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times,” is another one in the long line of gossipy tell-all books written after leaving office to cash-in while still relevant. It’s an attempt at image laundering by an unscrupulous Trump appointee who served the most corrupt, vile, and dangerous president in US history. There’s nothing sacred about a public servant who broke his oath of office by enabling a corrupt and despotic POTUS.

Last Monday, while making the rounds of the media circuit to promote his bloodstained book, Esper was asked in an interview by Fox News anchor Bret Baier whether he considered Donald Trump a threat to US democracy. He replied and said:

“I think that given the event of January 6th. Given how he had undermined the election results. He invited people to come to DC, stirred them up that morning, and failed to call them off. To me, that threatens our democracy. I think the answer would be yes. What else could you conclude, Bret?”

I feel like puking hearing those words from someone who enabled and emboldened Donald Trump in his anti-democratic actions as POTUS. Here was a man who participated in the attack on demonstrators peacefully and lawfully protesting police brutality and the death in police custody of George Floyd, another unarmed black man killed by the police. As the Defense Secretary, Mark Esper was an active participant in the violation of the constitutional rights of US citizens to assemble and protest.

Trump’s walk to St’ John’s Episcopal Church was an ego trip that involved no prayers or supplications. There was no mention of George Floyd, the man who was murdered by the police. Trump did not attempt to ease the pain and agony of people subjected to horrific expressions of racism and white supremacy in America for hundreds of years, instead he inflamed it. The walk was an illustration of everything Trump represented; an angry, resentful, narcissistic white supremacist incapable of feeling other people’s pain.

Esper made it known he was also an enemy of the US Constitution when he participated in a walk made possible after US citizens legitimately exercising their constitutional rights to protest were attacked and beaten by Military Police, National Guard troops, and US Park Rangers, and violently dispersed with physical force, tear gas, pepper spray, smoke canisters, shields, pepper balls, and horses.

Esper’s epiphany may seem genuine and his Come-to-Jesus moment sincere. I just freaking don’t care. By dissing Trump and dishing on the juicy horrid stuff that happened behind the scenes in that administration, he may even think he’s some kind of hero. But there’s really nothing heroic about an opportunist looking to sell his book and make a fortune on the grave of American democracy.

Esper trampled on the US Constitution when he chose to participate in the walk to Lafayette Square after clearing the path by forcefully dispersing peacefully demonstrating Americans and thus denied them their constitutional rights. Everyone who went with Trump on that inglorious cowardly walk – including Mark Meadows (Chief of Staff), Bill Barr (Attorney General), General Mark Miley (Defense Secretary), Ivanka Trump (Trump’s daughter and senior adviser), Jared Kushner (Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser), Kayleigh McEnany (White House Press Secretary) – is an enemy of our democracy, and that includes Esper himself. 

It’s a free country. So, Mark Esper can write as many books as he wants, and he’s free to continue to cash-in on the deadly wounds inflicted on American democracy. But there’s nothing he can do to burnish his sullied image.


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