UNSURPRISINGLY, given the times in which we live, images recorded last Wednesday of protesters entering the Capitol following a peaceful rally against electoral irregularities, together with some violent scenes outside it, have been submitted to fantastical hyperbole from the journalists and politicians who dominate the West.
Accompanied by the familiar drumbeat of what scholar of rhetoric Richard Weaver called ’devil words’ (fascist, racist, Nazi, white supremacist, etc), we hear the ludicrous claim that America has only narrowly escaped a violent insurrection, terrorist attack or fascist coup which President Trump supposedly incited, despite the fact that Trump is the most peaceful President in modern US history and has never called for anything except for peaceful, lawful protest: ‘I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,’ Trump told supporters at the end of his rally.
Nonetheless the story has been used to cut off the President and thousands of his followers from social media, on the pretext of preventing incitements of violence, with the full endorsement of the same networks and organs which have spent the last four years, and especially the last six months, energetically promoting and apologising for political violence.
Responding to the hysteria, Democrats in the House of Representatives, joined by 10 Republicans, yesterday voted to send a second impeachment of Trump to the Senate. More balanced minds should recognise that what actually took place on Capitol Hill last week remains unclear, and the precedent which is today being established presents a much more corrosive threat to American democracy than the event itself.
The ’storming’ of Congress, undertaken by perhaps two or three dozen protesters who appear to have been unarmed, with one remarkable exception, occurred as objections were being presented to Congress about the legally anomalous procedures and statistically unlikely outcomes which characterised the recent US Presidential election. These issues have not been addressed by any US institution or mainstream journalist since election night, only denied and dismissed. They have now been swept off the agenda, and discussing them may soon be criminalised.
The ease with which protesters gained access to the Capitol has been notably contrasted with the heavy police presence that guarded the building during a summer of BLM protests in DC which saw the looting of stores and an arson attack on St John’s Church. Video from Wednesday suggests that at least some of the protesters were waved into the building. At another point, a group appeared easily to overpower a small fence and security detail.
After a summer of ‘peaceful protests’ which saw dozens of deaths and the most destructive looting of American cities in decades, both Biden and Harris have asserted that MAGA protesters were treated more leniently than BLM, despite the fact that at least one unarmed protester, US Air Force veteran Ashli Bobbit, was shot dead by police, a fate that no BLM activist suffered. The police officer has not been identified (unlike Derek Chauvin, who restrained George Floyd), and there is no indication that he is being investigated, let alone facing criminal charges. The cause of death of the three other protesters and police officer Brian Sicknick who died on Wednesday has not been disclosed.
Biden has refused to concede the term protester to anyone demonstrating on Wednesday, and the media has followed his lead in conflating the anarchic scenes in the Capitol with the much larger peaceful protest which took place earlier in the day. ‘Don’t dare call them protesters,’ the former Vice President has warned. ‘They were a riotous mob, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists.’ Nonetheless, not all of the individuals photographed inside the Capitol building seem to have been Trump supporters. Amongst the individuals photographed inside the building was John Earle Sullivan, a BLM activist from Utah, who in July 2020 was arrested and charged over a BLM/Antifa action where drivers were threatened, and one was shot. Despite Biden’s inflammatory rhetoric, Sullivan has already been released.
Also remarkable from the footage are two other individuals: an athletic-looking masked man leaping over a barrier equipped with what looks like plastic handcuffs, and a bearded man in a ‘Camp Auschwitz’ hoodie. The presence of both men has been heavily emphasised by Democratic Party politicians and their allies as testifying to the ideological extremism of Trump supporters and their murderous intentions. But who were they?
Though the first man has now apparently been identified, the second remains unknown. Nor was his picture featured in the identity parade that USA Today published on Thursday last week soliciting the collaboration of the public in identifying suspects.
Doubtless the 75million Americans of all races and religions who voted for Trump includes some percentage of lunatics, but it is inexplicable what any convinced Neo-Nazi could find in the President to support, given Trump’s pro-Israel policies, his Jewish grandchildren; and the fact that he has repeatedly condemned Nazism and other forms of racism, as if that wasn’t always obvious. The claim that Trump supporters can be identified with Nazis is grotesque, and itself incitement. What is again at work here is a reprise of the demonising propaganda which has been aimed at Trump and his supporters for four years in a determined effort to delegitimise popular opposition to the US political and media elite.
The reactivation of this strategy at this point seems designed to provide a pretext for further escalation. Already Biden, making no effort at finding common ground with the people of the nation he is to be installed to rule, has compared Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley’s questioning of recent election results to Joseph Goebbels’s doctrine of the big lie.
There is every sign that this technique, along with other totalitarian methods including the abuse of language, rule by decree, exemplary targeting of scapegoats, repression of independent intellectuals and artists, synthesis of corporate and political power, repression of dissent, politicisation of family life, suppression of religion, manipulation of science, the organisation of politically protected militias and the criminalisation of opposition will only intensify from here.
It is a waste of breath to point out that the Democrats and their allies have no standing to condemn political violence after four years of promoting it, given that ethical consistency plainly doesn’t matter to them.
The question is the degree to which hypocrisy, along with the inability to form balanced judgements, is insanity or naked cynicism, and then again how far apart these modes of explanation really are. Evidently twentieth century totalitarian movements, whether Bolshevism or Nazism or Maoism, were both cynical and insane. Here again, we seem to be confronted by a self-inverting carousel of broken, violent minds.
Is the USA, and by extension, Britain, going to remain a sovereign country of a free people governed by the rule of law, or will it become a corporate zone of winters without Christmas, controlled by changing rules, and arbitrary exceptions, such as the Terms of Service which control access to the internet, or the ‘new normal’ of humiliating masks and lockdowns which, without any coherent scientific basis, has, as if overnight become the ruling paradigm across a captive world?