This is a good example of why, when you are entrusted with power, you shouldn’t squander that trust for political reasons. It undermines your ability to take principled stands when people know your own principles are less than solid:
President Biden, on behalf of the US, joined with the European Union in condemning the arrest of dissident blogger Roman Protasevich, who had for months supported and encouraged protests of Belarus’ autocratic leader, Alexandr Lukashenko. After his arrest, Protasevich appeared on TV to recant his previous views and voice support and praise for Lukashenko, leading many to believe he’d been tortured or coerced. Of course, Biden was right to condemn his arrest.
But that gave Russian President Vladimir Putin an opening to remind the world that Biden’s DOJ is prosecuting everyone who entered the Capitol on January 6th, even those not accused of doing anything violent. Putin said, “These are not looters or thieves, these people came with political requests,” and Biden is trying to jail them for protesting what they believed to be corrupt actions by the government. And as the linked story reminds us, the government has used social media and other surveillance state methods to track down those people and jail them, while letting leftist protesters who actually did commit violence and vandalism of government property go free.
I’m from the “two wrongs don’t make a right” school, so I’m not going to dismiss what happened in Belarus or let the violent Capitol protesters off the hook. But Biden did hand Putin the stick to whack him with through his and his party’s own hypocritical double standard on anti-government protests (great when we protest the other side, treason and insurrection when they protest us.) I want our President to be able to take firm moral stands in the world, but first, he has to behave in a way that gives him a leg to stand on.