Seattle Mayor Paul Schell and Washington Gov. Gary Locke were a day late in calling up the National Guard to help put down violent anti-World Trade Organization demonstrators Wednesday.
For several hours Tuesday, environmental extremists and other dangerous crazies actually had control of large chunks of the city. They forcibly prevented many trade ministers from getting to their destination and in some cases apparently threatened them.
Firebombs were set off, rocks thrown, buildings damaged, stores looted. The "battle in Seattle" was like a rerun of the "days of rage" surrounding the Democrat National Convention in Chicago in 1968.
Some of the aging anarchists in Seattle were, in fact, on a trip down nostalgia lane. They bragged of being veterans of the Chicago riots.
What the rioters needed were the tough crackdowns meted out by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley Sr.'s cops 31 years ago. But Seattle police were trained to "kill them with kindness." The strategy didn't work; in fact, it didn't even stop charges of "police brutality."
The mayor and governor should have known "kindness" wouldn't stop this crowd. Many of them specially trained -- just as the Chicago anarchists did -- for the specific purpose of turning the city upside down.
It's shameful they succeeded, sending a message to the rest of the world that the U.S., like a banana republic, can't be entirely trusted to protect visitors from angry mobs.
What shouldn't be forgotten, though, is this WTO ministerial conference wasn't necessary in the first place. No business was conducted there that couldn't have been done through trade representatives and other channels.
The global parley was put together as a showcase for President Clinton. Thanks, Mr. President, for giving the nation another black eye.