If it was an insurrection, it was a pretty pathetic one. It was a demo gone wild in the last fling of a movement with pretended power.
I saw the scenes from across the pond and I was shocked as we all were that a seething mob could overwhelm the seat of American democracy in the form of a rebellion as if to overthrow the pillars of the state. A great, excoriating narration began to form with which I would blast the mob that defiled the soul of that nation. However in the cool light of the morning, it was nothing.
Washington still stands. There are broken windows and scuffed furniture, but otherwise you would not know. No one set the buildings alight or strung aged senators from lampposts. The riot was in the United States, where even children carry guns, but these were an unarmed crowd just rampaging in sheer joy through buildings which they could have visited any day with an admission ticket. It is not an attempted coup; more a “coo-ee!“
Even so, there were deaths, and they are not anonymous figures – all lives matter remember. (Ashli Elizabeth Babbitt, since you ask, or should – 35 years old, ex-Air Force; victim of a conspiracy theory as much as a policeman’s bullet; unarmed; leaves a grieving husband. Also Brian Sicknick, police officer; died of wounds suffered in action.)
If it had been a coup or a rebellion, we would know about it. There would be blood on the streets and hundreds weeping for lost children. As the riot seemed to be led by followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, it matched it in form: much chatter, symbolism, oaths to take action, but no reality.
Did we not warn of this, when the integrity of elections is questioned and their validity is challenged? On this very website we foresaw the dangers:
A comparison has been made with 1814, and they say it is the only time since that fateful year that the Capitol has been overrun; but it was not 1814 and these protestors were not General Ross. There were no flames to douse this time.
I will condemn utterly the actions of the mob that day, because I can. It turns the stomach thought to see people like the high officials of Sinn Fein daring to condemn political violence without burning with the shameful hypocrisy of it, and the shock at this protest from France, whose streets still reek from the smoke of riots far, far worse.
Some things from my discarded excoriation remain. This was a disgraceful action, astounding, shocking and an assault upon the very pillars of democracy. The rioters need to face trial and those who encouraged or excused it have morally disqualified themselves from high office, and Donald J Trump, I mean you in particular – I can giggle at your playacting when you use empty words just to position yourself to achieve good things, as you have, but when it comes to that rhetoric playing out in this mob violence, there is no respect remaining to you. This was an exuberant play-rebellion, but in the land of guns it could have been very, very different. You did not know it would not be that way.
Who will feel kindly ever again towards the US Republican Party, after this, which their shenanigans encouraged? They will need to do some serious repair work and reinvention of what they are all about. That said, the Democratic Party did worse: they started the Civil War, all because they could not accept a Republican president or the abolition of slavery, and on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line they endeavoured to defeat the Union. They came back, eventually.
Things should calm down. In a week and a half a new President will take office, and the old establishment will reassert itself. It may be uncomfortable for that establishment though as a more radical fringe has invaded and occupied much of their party. Revenge will be in the air just as consensus is needed.
If there can be calm, then many guilty men will have to apologise and try to rebuild the mythology on which democracy must be built, and have the humility to yield their forfeited leadership to those who did not endanger the foundations of the state.
There is no avoiding a reckoning, in which the actions and words of those in positions of responsibility and influence have undermined the very system which gave them position and salary.
However, it is not just those you are thinking of who face that reckoning in the court of public opinion and at the harsh judgment of the ballot box. Those who without sufficient cause sought to undermine this election or to overturn the election by refusing to do their duty in Congress must answer for the damage they have done to the stability of the democratic settlement. Those who whipped up the mob, yes, they will be named. It is beyond party though; it must be.
- Those who tried to subvert the Electoral College are guilty – and so are those who tried the same subversion in 2016.
- Those who cat-called at Joe Biden that they did not accept him as a legitimate President are at enmity with democracy; as are those who called ‘Not My President’ at Donald J Trump, who shunned his inauguration and publicly tore up his speeches.
- Those who tried to overthrow Barack Obama are guilty; and also those who laid knowingly false charges against Donald Trump to unseat him.
- Those who refused to do their duty according to the American Constitution are culpable, but also those who conspired to disaffect appointed officials from performing their duties to the sitting President.
- Those who propagated the QAnon idea, who whipped up and then excused the mob – they must face the consequences. Also though, those who excused the mobs which rampaged through the cities of America in the summer. They declared from their high positions that violence by a mob, when carried out in the name of a cause firmly believed in is a good and noble action. They set the tone, the landscape and the rules by which others led their own riot, and they should be thankful that those who rampaged over Capitol did not even approach the rage of the mobs in the cities. Such a one must be named, howsoever high she may have climbed, and face the like judgment.