Like the torrent of video clips showing that last week’s terrorist attack on the capitol was more coordinated and more violent than its conspirators would want you to believe, the same conspirators are now pleading two narratives to cover their rear. One is that they were only exercising their First Amendment right to protest. The other is that the Black Lives Matter protests and riots didn’t draw the same scrutiny.
Like everything associated with Donald Trump’s mob, both narratives are factual and moral frauds that hide behind liberal rationales to perpetrate reactionary lies and justify the unconscionable.
The right to protest is not in dispute. If that’s all the mob had done, its rights would certainly be defensible and protected, and everyone from the ACLU on down, including me, would defend that right. We’d be taking bets about how dull the Biden inaugural would be by now, not impeaching a president and witnessing one of the FBI’s most extensive manhunts in history.
Let’s assume the protest had remained peaceful. Even then, a protest isn’t an end in itself. It’s about a message. It should be judged accordingly. The KKK or any other neo-fascist organization has the right to march downtown. But it remains a despicable organization with a reprehensible purpose. It does not have a claim to any moral ground just because it’s exercising its First Amendment right. The mob gathered in Washington last week with an equally despicable and indefensible purpose: to overturn a democratic election decided by 81 million voters, certified by 50 states, reaffirmed by 60 court decisions and the attorney general. So it wasn’t a protest, since there was nothing to protest. It was the fabrication of a coup that became an armed insurrection. Insurrections are not protected by the First Amendment.
The legal parallel here is with Virginia v. Black, the 2003 First Amendment Supreme Court decision allowing bans on cross-burning if the intent is to intimidate. ”There’s no other purpose to the cross, no communication, no particular message,” Justice Clarence Thomas had said during arguments. ”It was intended to cause fear and to terrorize a population.”
Trump’s own incitement to violence when he directed the mob to the Capitol made the intent clear, burying his fine-print disclaimer “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard” in the sharper language of provocation: “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” “We fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
There was no intent in those words but to intimidate. Fused by other equally incendiary speakers, the march itself was one big cross-burning to light the way to the assault.
Even if they had not breached a single barrier or attacked the Capitol, the “protesters” would have been fomenting sedition. The protest itself was not “a beautiful thing,” as Mark Phillips, the local leader of busloads of seditionists who trooped to the capital last week–and that Joe Mullins sponsored–described it last Monday, days after he should have known better than to describe anything associated with that assault as “beautiful” (or inanely blaming “antifa and BLM”). It was an attack on constitutional government based on reckless and malicious disregard for the truth. Trump fueled it. The likes of Mullins, our own Rep. Mike Waltz, Sen. Marco Rubio, Ron DeSantis and countless other Trump stooges incited it on the run-up to the attack.
Now they’re back-pedaling, distributing pizza to troops protecting them, and scrubbing their social media fingerprints of their complicity while resorting to that other treachery: using the Black Lives Matter marches as cover. But there’s no comparison, starting with intent. BLM marches resulted from the police execution of George Floyd. That murder was the last-straw. The marches were a cry against America’s scourge, unparalleled in the West, of police brutality and killings of civilians. There were more than 9,000 marches, all but a few peaceful. BLM marches were calls for civil and human rights, the sort of marches children will one day ask of their parents: “Did you take part? Did you support them?” Pity those who say no.
To compare the summer’s marches to last week’s mob is like comparing a KKK march with the Montgomery bus boycott (which also drew its share of violence, the bombing of churches and homes of Black leaders). It’s a miserable attempt to draw validity from an equivalency that doesn’t exist. Those who attempt it are degrading BLM marches as they degraded them at their height last summer. Again led by Trump, the reactionaries libeled the marches as so much rioting and lawlessness, as if property damage, some of it severe and indefensible, and a few killings were the issue–not the carnage and years of police killings. But valuing property over human life has always been an American sickness, a deceitful way to condemn the morally imperative message by disproportionately shrilling over the acts of a few criminal messengers.
It’s the old Kent State syndrome of turning killers into heroes and blaming the victims. Recall in 1970 when the National Guard gunned down four Kent State University students who were protesting Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia. As James Michener wrote in his book on the Guard’s assault, the killings drew “one of the most virulent outpourings of community hatred in recent decades”–not against the Guard, but against the students. The virulence was reflected in day after day of letters to the editor of the local paper, where protesters were reduced to “know-nothing punks,” “creeps” and “mobs of dissidents.” The Guard’s killings were cheered. Four days after Kent State construction workers building the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan (the ironies never cease) attacked anti-war protesters shouting “All the way USA” and “Love it or leave it,” and with the tacit consent of police, provoked a riot that left more than 100 people injured.
There’s a direct line between what became known as the Hard-Hat Riots and last week’s assault on the Capitol. It wasn’t a few criminal messengers that disproportionately commandeered headlines on Jan. 6, but an innumerable mob of lawbreakers that had shifted from the Ellipse to the Capitol grounds with premeditation and intent to do one thing: attack democracy. What started as an exercise in First Amendment rights turned into a criminal assault that left five people dead, including a law enforcement officer, 58 police officers, many others injured, and now 50 legislatures and who knows how many individuals under threat of more violence, not least of it that instigated by our local elected thug, with his colleagues’ chronic and complicit indifference.
The mob can hide behind the First Amendment and use the foil of BLM marches all it wants. It’s piling chicanery on top of lies. It’s more Fox and One America newspeak cesspooling across social media. Call it a difference of opinion if you like. Making up facts and assaulting truth is a hallmark of the Trump cult. Like bacteria feeding on decomposing flesh, it cannot exist otherwise. But like our goon of a president, that pathology and its apologists, however numerous and enduring in Ponzi-schemed circuses like Florida, are as discredited as the nightmare of the last five years.
Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here. A version of this piece aired on WNZF and was syndicated on Common Dreams.
Been There says
Now all of a sudden (because they got caught) they are (publicly) denouncing any violence when (at least) Mullins and Waltz were spreading violent rhetoric all along. This goes deeper. Their peers that protect them and/or look the other way (O’Brien, Sullivan, Cameron, Staly) are guilty as well. Sedition = Treason. Failure to stop sedition = complicit.
Have Mullens and Waltz and Gaetz and Spinola (whatever the idiot that wants to rename highway 27 after Trump) names been given over to the FBI? If not… then it’s time they were as instigators, funders and loud liars. Mullens has been saying for years that ‘liberals’ and democrats must die.
FBI here you go!
The Democrats should think twice before insisting on carrying out a Trump impeachment trial after Biden takes office. Unless the FBI can prove convincingly that Trump organized and directed the insurrection, efforts to silence him literally and bar him from politics may backfire, turning him into a martyr. The populist appeal of Trump hasn’t gone away. Large segments of the population still despise Congress and the Covid-19 crisis is far from over. Don’t be surprised if Trump or a Trump-like candidate makes a comeback in 2024.
Dont be surprised if he fades off into obscurity, ends up in jail or leaves to live in another Country.
He is already a God and martyr to you and your cohorts.
JUST like what happened with Hitler. He even spent time in prison before he came back and became more of the monster. Trump used to read (and probably still does) Hitler’s autobiography ‘Mein Kempf’ religiously in bed according to his first wife.
Mike Cocchiola says
All those who forced their way into the Capitol building with the intent to disrupt the Congressional formality of certifying the electoral college votes are guilty of insurrection and should face federal charges. Those like Joe Mullins and his crew of Trumplicans who managed to escape (so far) the consequences of their actions to help incite this deadly attack on our democracy should be condemned by all Americans.
What are we quantifying this as far as a physical count as a number ? How many breached the White House ? Anyone not in the White House or creating violent chaos with destruction of property have to be viewed as peaceful protestors ? I mean, one could argue some of those that entered the White House did so after the breach and if they weren’t armed or violent, even looted, is that anything more than a trespass of a Federal building ? I think mathematically there simply are 82 arrests and even many of those individuals are not armed or doing much more than wandering around the White House.
This goes both ways, fabrications of opportunists ? I for one still question the election results with the anomalies that occurred over the 4 days following Nov 3rd. Would I fly to DC to get involved at this level. Doubtful, I stayed clear of the local BLM protests in Palm Coast/Flagler County. I don’t even want to see a divisive banner in the neighborhood, Confederate or BLM. Either banner drops the property values with the presence of extremists. I prefer not to allow political candidates signs in a residential area. Vote your peace on the ballot and we’d have a lot less drama. Post the signs out on the parkways and commercial areas, they’re hideous eyesores.
“The mob can hide behind the First Amendment and use the foil of BLM marches all it wants. It’s piling chicanery on top of lies.”
@Even General Confusion and Major Mistake
know the trumpholes pillaged the Capital Buildings – NOT the White House.
How many murdered Capital Police are too many?
Anyone who stepped over the barricades broke the law. It wasn’t put up to make the place look pretty. It was there to keep a barrier from protestors and the functioning government and property. Giving protestors their space and a working, functioning place of work their space. anyone who passed that line, to me, broke the law. Anyone who entered the capitol building, even if they just walked through the open door after the people in front broke the windows and doors, deserves an even higher penalty than those who just came through the barriers.
For those who say some just came in after the doors had been opened, next time you leave your house, leave the front door unlocked so we can come by and just come in and walk around. ” I was just looking around”
And Jimb099, amazing you still question the results. Especially after every level of our court system said no. The biggest farce is the Pennsylvania election. A republican government following republican placed voting rules. Trump losing the state but other republican positions with election wins. So those are illegitimate too?
Let’s move on. work on this virus, work on jobs and work on improving our country for EVERYONE.
Yes, there is no question that the ‘Stop the Steal’ attackers on our capitol had as their goal preventing the ceremonial approval of the electoral college ballots in an attempt to undermine and overturn the election defeat of Donald Trump with violence. By definition that is an insurrection. It is horrible but it could have even been far worse if they had gotten into the chamber with our legislators. Let’s hear it for the overwhelmed police that were able to hold them back or at least slow them down. Even those who didn’t break in but still march under that ‘Stop the Steal’ banner are committing unnecessary violence to our country. Does the irony of that slogan confound anyone else? They are attempting to undermine our democracy and overturn a legitimate election. Our outgoing president encouraged and incited all of it. Unforgivable. Congressmen are also complicit and all must be held accountable for their part along with the rest of the mob.
The courts have head all the challenges. Decisions were made. All 50 states certified their votes. The election is done. Obviously we should look at any improvements that can be made but our system is working and prevented their success. But fed by years of misinformation and ongoing fabricated facts, too many are still twisted and keep trying.
If you haven’t already seen Arnold Schwarzenegger’s video comment about the insurrection at our capitol last Wednesday please google it and check it out. It is great!
Accountability is first. It’s the process . Unity can only come about by when those accused and found complicit are given ramifications for their alleged criminal actions. I for one am exhausted and would like to move on from all of this . We all need to.
Excellent article Pierre!
I would add that the FOX brainwashing tool of “whataboutism” has been extremely effective on the trump “CULT”. We seen it on display here every day from the unthinking “usual suspects” who take great glee in posting nothing more than misinformation in the form of ” whataboutism talking points”. When comparing anything and everything to BLM protests against the systemic racism we are forced to endure, the “CULT” even gets a “2fer”. . . a “racist laced whataboutism”.
The “highly organized” DEADLY riot of the MAGA mob who raped our nation’s capitol is the result of a perfect storm of 30+ years of Rupert Murdoch’s FOX brainwashing of millions of our citizens, to accept “alternate facts in an alternate reality. . . combined with the fear and hate culture of racism. . . ginned up by a demented man and his personal cowardly sycophants.
Do your research, find credentialed facts from credible sources, find your lost moral compass and come back to the wisdom of the “Golden Rule” and to the civilization of peace and love. We miss you!
The Voice Of Reason says
Spot on Sherry!! Well said closing words.
During the protests in Portland , a Federal Courthouse was attacked nightly by ” Mostly Peaceful Protesters”. It was so bad there, more federal agents had to be called in to help protect the courthouse. These were “Stormtroopers” according to the house speaker. Remember, the National guard was not allowed during this time by order of the governor of Oregon. As this continued, the mayor of Portland stood with these criminals until the tear gas forced him back one night.. How is it that a federal courthouse and federal agents can be attacked and not one bit of outrage from the left. No one called for his resignation Hell. he was re-elected. But now the left cares about these federal agents.https://apnews.com/article/ap-top-news-ted-wheeler-racial-injustice-oregon-courts-edd4ebdd7a245e568da69db38aea04db
In Seattle, a 6 block area was taken over by those peaceful protesters for weeks and made an Autonomous Zone . It was started by a Seattle council member Kshama Sawant (still in power today)who stormed the mayors office with the protesters and then went back to the empty police precinct that was attacked earlier. The six blocks included home owners and business . MUST READ; https://nypost.com/2020/07/01/how-seattle-chop-went-from-socialist-summer-camp-to-deadly-disaster/
Webster’s definition of the word hypocrite: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings
Billy C says
Whatabout this, what about that. Police officers were beaten with flags. Each day videos come out showing the horror of the siege on the Capital and you come up with some left vs right b.s. There were tons of news accounts about Portland and most democrats decried the violence that took place there. But, we watched the seditious attack on our government last week and people are still trying to justify being there? Equate property damage by a few to sedition by many? The article outlines the difference. Perhaps you should read it again with an unbiased eye.
No where in my post did I try to justify the violence that occurred last week. As with the BLM protest, most of the people were peaceful that attended the Trump rally. I do not believe people ran to the Home Depot and purchased zip ties or to the army/navy store right after the Presidents speech. Much of this was planned well in advance. And yes, many may have been caught up in the moment. That said, they all should be punished for there crime.
My issue is with the double standards. How the vice president elect and Biden staffers created a fund to bail out “Protesters and a child abuser” in Minnesota. How the Mayor of Portland and Governor of Oregon allowed the police to be assaulted nightly. How the mayor of Seattle is allowed to have her police be run out of a government owned police precinct. And let’s not forget about her summer of love that left two dead. and yes, how the left hated the police during the summer, but love them now.(remember the polling data that changed the hearts of the democrat party) But today I seen some of the greatest hypocrisy in some time. As democrat’s try to punish any Republican that objected to the election results, lets watch todays lead impeachment manger during the 2017 election certifications in congress. You just can not make this stuff up up.https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2021/01/13/flashback_lead_impeachment_manager_jamie_raskin_attempted_to_object_to_electoral_vote_certification_for_trump_in_2017.html
Billy C says
Once all the states have recounted, then counted a third time, the avenue of court intervention had been exhausted, there is nothing you can say to justify you or anyone else going to Washington to continue protesting the election. Your list of Portland, Minnesota et al are just attempts to create a double standard. There were hundreds of arrests at BLM protests. There were rubber bullets, flash grenades and security zones setup to keep protestors at a controllable distance from major buildings etc. The double standard occurred at the Capital. How many officer discharged their pistols? How many people were shot with rubber bullets or beaten to the ground by police? No sir, the double standard is in your mind.
Been There says
Home rule? There needs to be consistency in the way insurrection is dealt with on both sides. To be clear, this isn’t the work of reasonable impassioned supporters of any side. These are extremists on the left and extremists on the right. Moderates see the corruption going on from both the D and R. It is prevalent in our own community. However, we get vocal, write letters and speak out at meetings. We keep our hands to ourselves.
Whatever happened to the right’s “Blue Lives Matter” platform? They seem to have forgotten that when they were attacking the cops at The Capitol. The way I see it, only one life matters and that life has successfully infiltrated the minds of the unstable to instill in them a sinister devotion devoid of evidence to its existence a.k.a cult.
What is sedition and what if free speech depends upon who is exercising their First Amendment rights and who is, or will be in power. Destruction of property is always destruction of property, assault is always assault, murder is always murder, whether you get prosecuted depends upon the political party of the offender and the prosecutor.
Again, and again completely FALSE comparisons. . . this from NPR:
In President Trump’s telling of it, Portland, Ore., is a city under siege by violent radical leftists. He has suggested that only the strong hand of federal law enforcement can save it.
On Fox News this week, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf admonished state and local leaders there and elsewhere for failing to restore law and order, and he touted the administration’s response.
“We’ve seen about 300 arrests across this country regarding civil unrest and protest, violent protesting, I’d say criminal protesting, criminal rioting,” Wolf said. “About 100 of those have been in Portland specifically, and I know the Department of Justice has charged about 74 or 75 individuals in Portland there with different federal crimes.”
But an NPR review of the federal cases brought in Portland shows that the majority of the charges are for what could be considered minor offenses.
Americans Increasingly Polarized When It Comes To Racial Justice Protests, Poll Finds
AMERICA RECKONS WITH RACIAL INJUSTICE
Americans Increasingly Polarized When It Comes To Racial Justice Protests, Poll Finds
As of Aug. 28, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Oregon had charges outstanding against 74 people in connection with the Portland unrest.
Of those cases charged, 11 are for citations and 42 are for misdemeanors, meaning that more than 70% of the total charged cases are not felonies.
Land of no turn signals says says
Absolutely no comparison,No looting,No burning,No destruction of personal property.
Pierre Tristam says
Right. And they were just very civic-minded patriots strolling through the Capitol to take in its sights and snap a few selfies. What fools we are to misinterpret their intentions. Not to mention some of the fine people among them.
Land of no turn signals says says
Not saying they were angels but I didn’t see anybody running through the Capitol with a big screen t.v.
No, instead they were constructing gallows, screaming “Hang Mike Pence!”, threatening to take elected officials hostage (people don’t carry zip-ties in case their shoestrings come untied), smashing windows, taking doors off their hinges, invading the private offices and chambers of the Speaker of the House other elected officials and going through their desk phones and computers, smearing feces on the walls and floors, leaving threatening notes…Shall we say more? No one who is posting minimizations of the crimes committed by these invaders of our Capitol have any right to whine about the words and conduct of the BLM crowd. These Trump mobs matched what the worst of the BLM marchers did and THEN some! It’s not the biggest crime of the century when other people do it and OK when YOU do–that’s called hypocrisy (and that’s a mild description of what it is.)
Bill C. says
Instead they were busy trampling police officers and trampling on our Democracy.
Is the dollar sign the only way you measure these two events? Protesting for equality should in no way be compared to a mob ascending on the Capital with the intent to override a decision made in a democracy. Destruction of property, looting, burning etc is not okay. But that cannot be offered as a counterweight to beating and killing law enforcement, defecating in the halls of the Capital and chanting to kill the Vice President. Whataboutisms cannot be applied here.
On January 06, 2021 police officers fought hand to hand combat for several hours with a riotous mob that was part of the March to Save America which was organized by Women for America. Their event page showed plans for protesters to head to the Capitol: “Take a stand with President Trump and the #StopTheSteal Coalition…” This March turned riot was called an “amazing beautiful sight” by an attendee at the 01-11-2021 commission meeting. It wasn’t a beautiful sight, it was a “barbaric” sight.
Washington DC police officers Michael Fanone; Robert Glover; Ramey Kyle; and Daniel Hodges described their experience as they tried to fend off the mob with hand to hand combat.
In Their Own Words
An Amazing “Barbaric” Sight:
“They were overthrowing the Capitol, the seat of democracy, and I f_ _ _ ing went.”
“We got to get these doors shut.”
“We got to hold this door.”
“We all just made a decision. We weren’t going to let individuals in the building, no matter what.”
“We all believed we were fighting for our lives. We believed at the time we were the only door in jeopardy of being breached.”
“We weren’t battling 50 or 60 rioters in this tunnel. We were battling 15 thousand people. It looked like a medieval battle scene.”
“We were pushing, literally, foot by foot. We were taking law enforcement injuries, serious in nature.”
Take back the “high” ground to stop attacks from above.
“We were literally taking 15 to 20 minutes to get each stair back.”
“Everything they did in military fashion.”
Disturbing that off-duty police “would knowingly and intentionally come to the United States Capitol to engage in this riotous act and criminal behavior against their brothers and sisters in uniform who were upholding their oath of office.”
“I was fairly certain we were going to be overrun. I scouted out an area where we could fall back to another fighting position.”
“If you didn’t have a gas mask – and many officers didn’t – it was almost impossible to breathe.”
“I know you are in pain. I know you are fatigued, but you have to get up and get back in the fight.”
“There were points that I thought it was possible I could either die or become seriously disfigured.”
“I really couldn’t defend myself at that point.”
A rioter took his baton “and started beating me in the head with it.”
“This guy needs help.”
“This was body against body, just crushing like a barbaric scene.”
“I didn’t want to be the guy who starts shooting because I knew they had guns – we had been seizing guns all day and the only reason I could think of that they weren’t shooting us was they were waiting for us to shoot first and if it became a firefight between a couple of hundred officers and a couple of thousand demonstrators, we would have lost.”
“The zealotry of these people is absolutely unreal.”
“I was being beat from every angle. I thought maybe I could appeal to somebody’s humanity.”
The events at the Capitol are indefensible. The events of many of the BLM protests are also indefensible. An attack on Government is more serious because it was an attack on our ideals, but attacks on innocent people by BLM “protestors” were equally reprehensible. You quickly glaze over “a few killings” in your BLM narrative and focus on property damage complaints to make an invalid point. My point is that members of both groups have extreme elements that have no place in our society no matter how noble you personally believe the motives to be.
…and you too are mired in trying to find equivalences to somehow minimize what happened at the Capital. Lost in your attempt to balance the scale is the reason for the BLM protest. You couldn’t care less what their cause was. You’re just looking to get your whataboutism in. To dismiss the events at the Capital as “indefensible” is ludicrous. What happened that day cannot be compared to anything short of an attempt to overthrow the government.
Thomas Waller says
Sedition… do not think so… extemist right wing individuals who have been disenfranchised by the state of events leading up to this… numerous Capitol officers allowed these individuals into the Capitol… Trump fanatics most definately but they are the spear of the future… Portland, Seattle and numerous other Liberal cities and nothing was done… now to say these individuals are seeking to overthrow the Government… Give me a break… these individuals are true Patriots imho…
Seems as though the Legal System tends to disagree in that they are Arresting and charging the True Patriots with all kinds of Crimes with some pretty hefty Sentences provided the True Patriots are found Guilty of Alleged Crimes. They are not part of any future of mine . Good luck
There were NO true patriots of OUR country there. They were brainwashed and/or nazis and white supremist terrorists who want a Hitler-type nation and type of government, as if most of their families wouldn’t be killed by trump/hitler.
Your Patriots are going to prison. Where they belong.
Dogon Priest says
Boy the BLM is like MLK propaganda is thick today.
I respectfully disagree. I was raised during segregation in the South in Memphis and as a child took part in garbage strikes. BLM is against all we good for. BLM is all theater and no action. They prefer Violence over non- Violence. They are a disgrace to the name MLK and this holiday. (Now I fell better)
Billy C says
You took part in garbage strikes as a child??? /BLM is all “we good for?” What are you talking about? As the article above says, the linking of BLM with violence is a convenient attempt to ignore last weeks siege of the Capital and attempt to dismantle democracy. You feel better? Good, because no one wants you to feel bad (sarcasm of course).