This has been a tough week, readers-mine. You’ll have to pardon the fact that I am a few days late as we had a family emergency, I was dealing with Turtle’s birthday and memory sharing, and I’m still in recovery from surgery. So, between the personal stuff and the national stuff, it’s been quite the week to process. That said, it was shocking watching the Capitol be desecrated, but it was not surprising. For those who are from another country or were living under a rock for the past week in the U.S. for whatever reason, go here, here, and here for a rundown of events.
I have spent the past five years teaching in a place that is very pro-Trump, and I have found that most Trump supporters have an inability to put themselves in another person’s shoes. Most often, they are people who do not read fiction, have a very narrow experience of life, or are not truly connected or interesting in experiencing other cultures. Reading fiction has been shown to build empathy and encourage understanding because you are seeing the emotions that result from events. For more information on this, go here, here, here, and here. We know that familiarity breeds understanding, so I have spent those years breaking down his behavior almost every day for my students who have thought it was funny. I use our units on the Civil War, World War II, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights to explain why his actions and words are wrong through using the Socratic Method and, sometimes, through direct discussion. Some of my friends don’t understand why I’m not angry with Trump supporters, but I have seen firsthand that behavior can shift as people think things through and, as a teacher, I am always hopeful that people can learn and grow. Other friends don’t understand why I don’t see Trump supporters as less than human, but I have learned through my study of history that seeing anyone as less than human allows people to justify meanness, conspiracies, and atrocities. Trump is a conman who made marks of almost half of the U.S. population.
Trump did not make people in this country racist, misogynistic, anti-intellectual, or fearful of difference. What he did do is embolden the elements of society that were already that way. I have Trump supporters who I love dearly: students, members of my extended family, and relatives of my family-of-choice. Over the years, I have had all sorts of discussions, debates, and arguments with them. I firmly believe that the only way for them to grow–especially when we have networks that actively engage in brainwashing tactics–is for them to hear something different from people they respect. More experience of the world, not less, is the only way I’ve seen people grow and change. At this point, what happened this past week seems to have been a bridge too far for most of the people who are directly in my life in some way. They are quiet. However, there are some who seem afraid to acknowledge that they were wrong and are protesting that they never could have seen this coming or that what happened couldn’t have been real. For the most part, when I talk to them about the history leading up to these events (which goes much further back than five years), they can’t see the links and patterns that made it obvious to me when Trump was running for president that, if our country elected this man, it would end in tears. Others are living in fear of the changes to come because the repetition of a lie creates the illusion of truth for many people and they are Trump supporters out of fear, hoping that he will save them because he keeps saying that he is, in fact, doing just that. Check here, here, here, and here for more information.
I am seeing a few main arguments from the Trump supporters in my extended network. Parents of friends or students, QAnon believers who are friends of friends, and people who struggle to admit that they could possibly be that wrong are finding rather flimsy ways to defend the insurrection on Wednesday, 6 January 2021. So, I’m going to break this down by those three main arguments, and then, in more posts, I’ll explain the legal definitions of terrorism, sedition, treason, etc., why I think those apply to the actions that we saw as well as breaking down symbols of hate that were at the Capitol and the various riots/protests around the country, and what led up to this as best as I can tell.
First, let me say that I know the estimated attendance for the various marches and pro-Trump rallies that were held on Wednesday, 6 January 2021 in Washington, D.C. was around 30,000 and that all 30,000 people did not go into the Capitol. Honestly, I don’t know a single Trump supporter who supports him to the level of going to rallies and marches in the middle of a pandemic, so the folks that did this past Wednesday are more brainwashed by the lies than those in my immediate or outer circles. Those who marched and protested peacefully within the limits of their permits might not be my cup of tea, but they didn’t do anything illegal. The right to freedom of speech is a double-edged blade and, frankly, what happened at the Capitol is a clear demonstration of that. So, let me be clear, I’m not talking about the protestors who followed the law and then went home when things got crazy. I’m talking about the rioters as well as the people who cheered them on outside the Capitol, in various capital cities around the country, or from home. This article will focus on the Capitol, but I’ll got through some of the other events of the day at another time.
But They Were Mostly Peaceful…
Those who made their way in were not mostly peaceful, and I can’t say that those cheering outside by a gallows with a noose were peaceful either because, frankly, a death threat, which a gallows tacitly is, is anything but peaceful. The people by the gallows spent hours chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” Five people died and at least fifty officers were injured as a result of what happened at the Capitol. I would bet the police officer who died Thursday night after being bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher would not say that they were peaceful. The woman, Ashli Babbit, who was shot in the neck and died would not call what happened there peaceful. Erin Schaff, the photographer, certainly didn’t feel that they were peaceful. AP News photographer John Minchillo would not call them peaceful. The officer crushed and crying out in anguish, would not say it was peaceful. The flashbangs that the police forces had to use to get people to back up, is not what is done when people do as asked and people are behaving in a peaceful manner. I’m sure there will be many more stories coming out as more footage is reviewed and released. Unfortunately, we are lucky that only five people died as a result of this one action taken by a mob against the heart of our democracy.
There were men in paramilitary gear carrying zip ties known as flex cuffs who went into the Capitol. These are used when police have to make mass arrests. If you really pay attention to the photos, you will see that there are the crazies who don’t seem all there–these are the ones talking to the press and taking selfies–and there are the clearly calm, cool, collected, and trained guys with flex cuffs. The more you pay attention, the harder it is to miss them. They are the ones who are moving with purpose. They are the ones who act with precision and are covered head to toe in an effort to hide their identities, though they wear insignias that are being used to identify them as former military members. These people didn’t go into the Capitol with the idea of taking photos. They weren’t startled when there was push back. There was a plan. We’ve already had thirteen men charged with a plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan. These guys, carrying flex cuffs, are no joke. We are lucky that our elected officials were saved, barricaded, and hidden from these men. Remember, there is a huge overlap between ex-military, current law enforcement, and ex-law enforcement and militias. It’s been documented time and again. If you want to learn a little of the history of The Militia Movement in the US as it applies to the Alt-Right groups, go here. So, there is every chance that these guys were as trained as their movements and gear suggest to me. The FBI also thinks there’s something to this theory. Read through this thread to find out how some of these men are being identified and passed along to the FBI investigators. So, then you need to ask yourself, why were they carrying the flex cuffs? Who were they there to take hostage? There was a gallows built just outside the Capitol and various members of the rioters were heavily armed with guns and even Molotov cocktails. In case you don’t know because you haven’t been to D.C., you cannot carry guns on your person in the District of Columbia and certainly not into the Capitol. It is a federal offense to do so.
There Was Minimal Property Damage…
Minimal property damage does not apply when it comes to the U.S. Capitol. It simply doesn’t. In a non-religious sense, the U.S. Capitol is a sacred space. How do I know this? I’ve been there. I’ve taken students there. The immediate response of 8th-grade boys who like to yell anywhere that their voice will echo is to whisper when you enter the rotunda. Why? Because they know that this is a place of importance; this is the cradle of democracy in our country. Symbolically, this attack was on democracy itself. The U.S. Capitol is the heart of our country, and it was specifically designed and built for that purpose. These rioters literally left feces and urine around the building in an effort to defile our most precious place.
Rioters went into secure offices, went through files, computers, and mail of people who work for the U.S. government, many of whom are highly ranked and deal with issues of national security. On a national security level, this is horrific. We have no idea who knows what, paid attention to what, or took what at this moment. This is not a little mess in someone’s office. This is a breach of information that we have never seen before. So, no, this doesn’t count as minimal property damage either. This counts as a felony and is a major issue for our country and our safety as a nation. I would hate to be in IT or physical security at the Capitol right now. I mean, it’s so bad that people are wondering if it was partially an inside job.
But BLM & Antifa Did Stuff This Summer…
Let me start off with this: there is a huge difference between trying to overthrow the government/start a civil war or revolution and protesting murders and brutality in the streets in hopes that there will be a fair trial.
The storming of the Capitol was planned online in plain sight on platforms like Parler, Gab, and the website WildProtest.com. To read about the planning, click here, here, and here. How the Capitol Police were so woefully unprepared, I cannot fathom. The only way to explain it is a combination of white privilege, Trump’s direct or indirect orders, and the head of the Capitol Police being incredibly foolish. This was the moment it all kicked off, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why the police officers would seem surprised except for the impact of implicit bias and white privilege. I mean, we had a freshmen congresswoman, Nancy Mace, fly her kids home on Monday because she knew things didn’t feel right in D.C. even though she is a single mother. She knew something was off and she wasn’t even paying attention to the websites and platforms like the FBI and various law enforcement agencies supposedly were. Those agencies saw the threats of violence ahead of what happened on Wednesday and certainly did not do enough to stop it. Even two years ago, there were articles and statistics on the jump in violence when cities hosted Trump rallies. This is to the point where The Guardian posted a list of incidents all the way back in August of 2019. It is a known thing that large pro-Trump rallies result in an increase of violence for the cities hosting them. What made them think D.C. would be any different?
This past summer, 93% of the BLM protests were completely peaceful. With the BLM protests, 96.3% of events involved no property damage or police injuries, and in 97.7% of events, no injuries were reported among participants, bystanders, or police. Let that sink in. If you think of the BLM protests as primarily violent, you are the victim of biased media and need to do some deeper research with a variety of sources. Of those arrested for rioting at BLM protests, the majority were tied to the far right, white supremacists, and other extreme groups who infiltrated the protests in order to undermine the community that was being built. If you look up BLM and weapons, what you find are mostly articles and videos about weapons being used against the protestors. This couple pulled their guns on protestors and then were asked to speak at the RNC. This video shows the impact of cars being used as weapons against protestors. This was possibly the largest movement in US history and involved marches around the world, in small towns, large cities, and suburbs and worldwide the marches were peaceful. Now, that is not to say that no one was armed or involved in property damage on the side of the protestors, because this article is about specific marches where protestors were armed, but you have to ask why some people find African American gun owners scarier than white gun owners.