What happened at the Capitol on January 6th is one of the biggest black-eyes in our nation’s history, and those who are defending it by pointing to the protests from last summer clearly don’t have a clue about what was really going on in either case.
People — American citizens — unhappy with the election results, who were constantly told that the election was stolen from them, even though there is a glaring lack of proof through 60 court cases, decided to take it in their own hands to disrupt what was supposed to be a fairly simple, procedural process that I’m willing to wager most Americans didn’t even know about until the last couple of months.
In the process, people were seriously injured. People died. Elected representatives of the people — the American government — was threatened by what can only be called domestic terrorists. These are people who were stirred up and set loose. These are people who came into the People’s House with zip ties, mace, weapons, and ill-intent.
Some of them were probably just run of the mill dumbasses who got caught up in everything. Some of them had other things on their minds, as they repeatedly chanted, “Hang Mike Pence.”
I’ve seen the videos. One Capitol officer being crushed by a mob of people shouting, “Heave,” as they tried to get into a blocked doorway. The young man is seriously injured and will not be able to work for some time.
The reporter who talked about being accosted by three men dressed in black who immediately grew angry when they saw she was with the New York Times. They broke her cameras, but thankfully didn’t physically harm her.
The woman who joined a crowd that talked three police officers into stepping aside as they tried to get into a barricaded hallway. They broke the glass, with security standing on the other side, guns drawn. They shot her as she tried to climb through the broken window. She later died.
The Capitol officer who lied face down on the steps outside the doors, pulled out and beaten by a mob waving Trump flags.
Note even 24 hours later, people on the right were placing the blame on their favorite boogeyman, Antifa. Even though, not surprisingly, there was absolutely no evidence, and still remains no evidence as people are being rounded up all over the country.
And yet… and yet. People are saying, “So, the rioting over the summer was okay, but this isn’t?” As if these are similar circumstances, as if the causes are equally just, as if they weren’t condemning them every step along the way.
There is a gross false equivalency happening here, and it needs to stop.
The people who were taking part in the overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations last summer were doing so in recognition of the stark injustice being perpetrated against people of color in our country.
In the rare circumstances where violence did erupt (in less than 10% of all protests), it was not solely at the instigation of the demonstrators. It has been proven that there were bad actors on the scene — people from far-right “militia” groups — who had no support whatsoever for what was being protested. They were simply there to cause trouble.
In more than one instance, it was the police to started the violence. Because, why wouldn’t the police react violently to a demonstration against the overuse of violence by the police? It’s like the drunk father shouting, “I’ll give you something to cry about” before abusing his wife and kids once again.
Look, there are a lot of really good police officers out there. And there are some really bad ones. The problem is the “bro code” seems to prevent some people from actually doing something about the bad ones, which then causes the stereotype to be continued.
What happened this summer is a boiling over of tensions when a group of people feel as if their legitimate concerns are not being heard. Now, some people are arguing that this is exactly what happened on January 6th. It’s not.
In the months leading up to the election, people who were thinking ahead realized that COVID wasn’t going away any time soon, and in order to make the elections as accessible as possible, some things began to change. Mail-in ballots were available in places where they hadn’t been before, and for whatever insane reason, the president decided to start railing against them. It’s like he knew he wasn’t going to do well if more people were allowed to vote.
So, for months, he kept talking about the election being “rigged”, and about how mail-in ballots were going to lead to fraud. Republicans began challenging newly written election laws — some of which were passed by Republican legislatures. The newly appointed Postmaster General made changes that only made sense if he was trying to slow down and ruin the efficiency of the postal system… which is exactly what he was trying to do.
And in some of these states with new mail-in ballot options, the law were written so that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of ballots wouldn’t even be opened until Election Day.
Even though the president pushed this false narrative that all the ballots should be counted and a winner declared by the end of the day, it was going to be impossible. But the truth has rarely mattered to this administration. So, yes, it took a few days for ballots to be counted. They weren’t necessarily coming in late, they were being counted late. Because that’s how some states decided to do it.
Eventually Biden was declared the winner. Not surprisingly, it was a late call because there were so many mail-in ballots to count. Not surprisingly, many of these late votes went for Biden. Why? President Trump pushed the narrative of mail-in fraud (even though he mailed in his vote to Florida); so, many who listen to him, and were going to vote for him, did not do mail-in balloting. Many Biden voters, who have had a tendency to take this pandemic more seriously, did utilize mail-in ballots.
And since that time, we haven’t had a president in office. Sure, President Trump has been there in title. But he has been consumed with trying to expose a fraud that doesn’t exist. When he hasn’t been pardoning people who actually need to be spending time in prison, he has been railing against the process, or making phone calls to people, trying to get them to commit the fraud he says is happening from the other side. And the worst part in all of this: his acolytes have bought into it.
People seem to believe every single word he says when the evidence very clearly points to the opposite. Even on January 6th, President Trump told the crowd that Mike Pence had the power to reject the electoral college and send it back to the states. Pence had already told him that it was impossible. It was over. It didn’t matter. That’s not what his other sycophants said, and that’s not what he wanted to believe. Then, he told the people to march on the Capitol and “show strength”.
And these people — the people who keep calling everybody else “sheep” for trying to follow virus mitigation measures — bought it. The “do your research” crowd didn’t do their research, and they believed it was still possible.
Every step along the way, President Trump would say, “It was stolen! There’s still a chance!” At every turn, people who are actually familiar with the system would say, “No, there’s not. Biden won, whether you like it or not!”
So, these people who gathered at the rally on January 6th weren’t there because some great injustice was perpetrated against them. Sure, they believed that to be the case, but only because they were told over and over again that there was. The actual facts didn’t support that narrative, but to ambitious politicians who wanted some notoriety, the truth is what you believe will get you more votes down the line, not what’s actually true.
These people who stormed the Capitol weren’t ignored. They were told repeatedly that the narrative they were being fed was false. They refused to believe it. Nowhere along the way were their rights violated. Nowhere along the way were their voices silenced. They were just outnumbered at the polls, and some people don’t lose gracefully. And some Republicans added fuel to the fire.
I don’t have to give credence to your complaints if they are based in fiction. I can tell you the facts, and if you don’t like those facts, that’s fine. But we don’t get to decide what facts are true based on whether or not we like them. I don’t have to give oxygen to your false narrative. That’s why the people at the Capitol were upset.
This summer, those complaints are not a false narrative. In fact, the statistics seem to back up the complaints. The dead bodies of people who just needed to be arrested, and not executed, seem to back up the complaints.
The very purposes of these protests are very, very different. So, stop with the “both sides” argument. What happened on January 6th had not happened in over 200 years. People breached the Capitol where representatives of the American people were working to finalize the election results. The Capitol had not been under assault since the War of 1812. One person brought in a Confederate flag, which didn’t even happen during the Civil war. It was an act of domestic terrorism.
And the same man who threatened to send in the National Guard numerous times this summer because “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” just sat back and watched for a while before sending out a video that said, “We love you and we understand how you feel, but you have to go home.”
There’s no “both sides” to what happened here. There are the actual Americans who recognize the sanctity of our system even when “our side” loses, and those who took it upon themselves to stage a coup against the government of the United States in an attempt to overthrow the results of an election that they didn’t like.
Stop with the “whataboutism”. Stop with the “both sides carry blame”. Just stop. What happened on January 6th, and what happened this summer are only similar in the most basic of facts — people were upset and there was violence. That’s it. These are not the same. So, stop it.