A Peaceful Transition of Political Power

I told you January 6, 2021 would be a doozy. I was right, But not in the way I thought I would be. I expected Mike Pence to either bounce the electoral college process back to the states to resolve their many outstanding issues or allow the several contested states to make their objections during the scheduled Joint Session of Congress and work their way through the process.

In a letter dated Monday, January 4, and addressed to US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, signed by Pennsylvania state Senator Jake Corman, Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, Sen. Judy Ward and Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, legislators accused Governor Tom Wolf, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, and the PA Supreme Court of altering election code in an attempt to circumvent the democratic process. I have been asked why PA legislators would object to the certification so late in the game. The PA legislature was out of commission for several weeks and just recently reconvened. But PA isn’t the only state with elected leaders objecting to certification.

Either course was expected to be met with great outrage from the Democratic party and the establishment punditry. Their desire to see Trump denied a second term is so deeply felt that any democratic challenge to the votes as certified, which gives their man Joe Biden the presidency, must be shamed or shutdown.

Pence, at his core a man of the establishment and personal ambition, opened the Joint Session by failing to adjourn it, a lawful power he falsely denied possessing. Adding insult to injury, in explaining his actions, he misled the public about what it was that the president expected from him (the president only expected him to adjourn and send it back to the states). The man ruthlessly mocked for having a fly on his head during his one an only debate with Kamala Harris suddenly became a hero on the left, many of them wanting him to be President of the United States for a couple of days.

Rioters at Capitol
The mob at the Capitol building, January 6, 2021

As it turned out, a mob, at least some of whom were decked out in Trump paraphernalia, apparently with some help from DC Police (“I don’t agree with this,” one cop says on camera, while another takes a selfie with a member of the mob), breached the Capitol building and shut down the the Republican challenge to the electoral process. That’s right: the mob’s actions, which the media tells its slack-jawed audience was essentially an insurrection directed by Trump and motivated by a desire to stop the process, whether by design or because of incompetence, did the establishment’s work for them. When Congress reconvened a few hours later, Biden and Harris sailed through through the process. Trump conceded the next day.

The Capitol police serve under the command of Black Lives Matter activist D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Perhaps Trump should have followed through with his proposal to take control of the DC Police back in June 2020 when Bowser was allowing BLM protesters to attack her officers, loot stores, and burn churches. In fact, so close did the mob come to the White House on June 1, that the Secret Service moved the Trump family to the White House bunker and staffers were told to hide their ID badges until they could be safely inside the compound’s security perimeter. Progressives predictably mocked Trump for “hiding in his bunker.” They celebrated when the White House, surrounded by a throng of Antifa and BLM protestors shouting slogans and threats, dimmed its lights. Those are the same progressives who now absurdly claim that an isolated riot at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021 was an “insurrection.” Those same progressives said these sorts of things all through the summer months while American, wracked with COVID-19, burned:

Americans reacted to the mayhem predictably, polls recording a partisan gulf in opinion. For example, while a YouGov Direct poll of 1,397 registered voters found that nearly two-thirds of voters perceived the breaching of the Capitol building as a threat to democracy, cross-tabs reveal profound political-ideological differentiation in perception. Among Republicans, only a bit more than a quarter considered the riot as a threat to democracy, with more than two-thirds saying it was not. Democrats, on the other hand, in overwhelming numbers, say it was threat to democracy, with 93 percent answering “yes.”

An objective analysis of the situation indicates that, on this question, Democrats are rather untethered from reality. The riot at the Capitol did not represent a threat to democracy, at least not in the way we are meant to understand such threats. It was more of a stunt if anything, albeit a deadly one. Police quickly corralled the mob, many of whom were ragamuffins wandering around the capital taking pictures and video, and ushered them outside. However, perhaps more startling in the poll, while 43 percent of Republicans opposed the actions of those at the Capitol, 45 percent of Republicans supported their actions. Perhaps Republicans responding to the poll didn’t understand that it was a menagerie of clowns who breached the Capitol building and were answering the question in the abstract. In any case, the response is a metric of conservative populist frustration.

Certainly the government is portraying what happened as a threat to democracy. And they have blamed it on Trump. Prominent leaders have called for Mike Pence to organize the Trump cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would, if not overridden by Congress, remove Trump from office by declaring him unfit to continue in that role. Democrats threatened to impeach the president (again) if that does not happen. Now it appears that, on Monday, articles of impeachment may be filed in the House. According the ABC News, “House Democrats on Friday discussed moving forward with efforts to impeach President Donald Trump a second time, circulating the draft of a single article citing ‘incitement of insurrection’ that they could introduce as early as Monday and hold a full House vote on as early as the middle of next week.”

It’s not only the government who is eager to see Trump removed and delegitimized. Corporate leaders want him out of office. The leader of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a group representing 14,000 companies in the US, in what CNBC describes as a “sharply worded statement,” called on Pence to “seriously consider” invoking the 25th Amendment. What better group of people than the NAM to call for removing a president from office. That doesn’t sound like a coup at all—just the echos of the “Business Plot,” also known as the “White House Putsch,” against President Roosevelt in 1933. Seriously, it’s fucking scary when the “business community” asks for the removal of one of the only two democratically elected official who represents all Americans.

* * *

The New York Post reported yesterday that 68 people who breached the Capitol building have so far been arrested (new reporting raises that number to more than 80). The paper also reports that DC Police have released dozens of photos of those who breached the Capitol building, which the paper has published. You can look at each of these pictures by clicking on the previous link. According to the BBC, investigators in DC say they have received over 17,000 tips from the public on the rioters. (Note that while I use the word “breach” throughout this essay, in several videos one can plainly see DC Police opening doors for the rabble.)

Pictures of some of those who breached the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. We are told that these clowns represent a existential threat to American democracy.
Wanted poster
The FBI is asking for your help in identifying these rioters.

I reported on the killing of Ashli Babbitt in an update to the blog I cite above. The US Capitol Police have since confirmed the death of Officer Brian Sicknick, who sustained injuries at the Capitol. His union said he died of a stroke. However, according to The New York Times, Officer Sicknick was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher by a rioter. If his death was caused by human agency, we should hope whoever is responsible for his demise has been or will be identified and held accountable. The establishment is busy making Sicknick a martyr to their cause. But Sicknick was one of us. He knew the system is fundamentally rigged in favor of the power elite. The New York Post reports, “After serving his country and observing the workings of its government, Sicknick had come to believe that America is governed by a self-interested, unresponsive and unaccountable oligarchy.”

In addition to Babbitt and Sicknick, a woman named Rosanne Boyland was trampled to death in the Rotunda. While I may disagree with Babbitt and Boyland’s reasons for being in the Capitol building, their deaths are nonetheless tragic and regrettable, as was Officer Sicknick’s. I should emphasize that, while Babbitt’s motives appear obvious, I am not sure of Boyland’s reasons for being there. Boyland had a troubled past. She was arrested multiple times for distribution of heroin. She had also been arrested on battery charges, obstruction of law enforcement, and trespass. If the character of many of those who rioted in the Antifa and Black Lives Matter protests is any indication, it is likely that many of the other rioters at the US Capitol have extensive criminal records. Upstanding citizens are disinclined to riot.

There are other reported deaths at the Capitol, but most appear to be unrelated to the violence (heart attacks, strokes) so their inclusion in the media death toll appears to serve a narrative and are not really relevant to an objective analysis of the event (except in that sense). There is, however, one additional death that may be related to the Capitol breach. Howard Liebengood, who worked in the Senate Division of the Capitol Police, and was among those who responded to the riot that day, has committed suicide. I won’t speculate as to the reasons why he took his life.

* * *

News stories are emerging that some of those who breached the Capitol building with bad intent are being fired from their jobs. Individuals should certainly be held accountable for their criminal behavior. Perhaps in some cases there is justification for the firings. But there are also reports emerging of those who were peacefully protesting outside the Capitol being fired or suspended from their jobs. For example, Detective Jennifer Gugger was removed from her position in the Philadelphia police department’s Recruit Background Investigations Unit on Saturday after Internal Affairs received a tip that she had been at the event, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The paper reports that the tip did not include evidence that Gugger had been inside the Capitol or had participated in the violence. 

This is a troubling development, one fueled by the media’s attempt to portray all protesters at the Capitol as rioters. The New York Times is leading the media campaign to mainstream such portrayals in the article “Why D.C. Rioters Wear Costumes.” The attempt to paint patriotic symbols as evidence of domestic terrorism should frighten everybody. The fact that the vast majority of those who attended the January 6 rally, including those who donned patriotic attire, were peaceful protesters is not only of no concern to the establishment media but a fact that must be leveraged for propagandistic purposes.

With dozens of massive peaceful rallies logged, it seems the effort means to map back upon history an impression of Trump rallies and supporters that they were the equivalent of Brownshirts being prepared for acts of violence. It doesn’t matter that the peaceful character of Trump rallies contrasted unfavorably with Black Lives Matter protests, which the the media and Democrats depicted as “mostly peaceful.” Any violence during those protests was justified or at least understandable in light of the racist reality of the American system. As Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us, the riot is the language or the unheard. Antifa and BLM protesters wore costumes, too. They didn’t wear American flags, of course. They burned them instead. Why wouldn’t they? That flag is the symbol of their oppression.

Remember when, in late May 2020, journalism professor Steven Thrasher, writing in Slate, made the following point? “The destruction of a police precinct is not only a tactically reasonable ­response to the crisis of policing, it is a quintessentially American response, and a predictable one. The uprising we’ve seen this week is speaking to the American police state in its own language, up to and including the use of fireworks to mark a battle victory. Property destruction for social change is as American as the Boston Tea Party.” The next several months were chockfull of tactically reasonable responses, quintessentially American responses, predictable responses—violent and lethal responses—responses glorified by the Democratic Party, corporate media, and progressives at universities and on social media.

In explaining why they permanently banned Donald Trump from its platform, Twitter appealed to the problem of how an abstract person may interpret Trump’s words. This bullet point stood out in particular: “The use of the words ‘American Patriots’ to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol.” Taking a virtue, the virtue of American patriotism, and flipping it into a vice is designed to portray patriots as bad people by definition. Jack Dorsey and his ilk, the new owners of the public square, are redefining patriotic Americans as domestic terrorists at the same time Democrats are moving to ramp up the security state.

Thus another tragedy in all this is having to point out that, while the objections and sentiments Trump supporters express in public may not be shared by some of their employers or those with whom they do business, no person should ever be fired from her job for exercising her First Amendment rights. Peaceful protest is the right of every American and a right cannot be freely exercised if there are consequences attached to it. The establishment is trying to change popular understanding of free speech. To be sure, the progressive left did not need to be brought to this place. A censorious bunch, they’ve been waiting for the move. The Guardian article, “Republicans and Democrats split over freedom of speech,” is one of many showing that Democrats and progressives are eager to clamp down on the right of Americans to freely transmit and receive information.

It is already too easy to forget or never understand that our rights extend to those with whom we disagree and that protecting their rights to the fullest is at the same time protecting the integrity of our own rights. Perhaps some do not wish to be free in this way, but to be a sovereign person means not having your rights violated by other persons or manmade entities. It really shouldn’t matter if it’s a private employer. Free people are not slaves to private power. They are citizens of a constitutional republic first and foremost, which entitles them to the protection of the US Bill of Rights. Employers shouldn’t be able punish employees for exercising their constitutionally-protected rights.

I know Trump-loathing is for many intensely felt (for some it’s pathological) and there is a desire to see those perceived as pro-Trump protestors (and even supporters) cancelled. I would ask progressives to consider that there are employers who harbor the same degree of loathing of Black Lives Matter. Would it be okay for an employee to be fired from his job for attending a BLM rally or expressing support for BLM? For the record, I have defended the right of Black Lives Matter devotees to peacefully protest. Because I am principled, I do the same for those who object to the 2020 election. Progressives, don’t be masochistic. Don’t make a whip for your own backs. At least don’t make a whip for mine. Don’t call yourself a liberal if you do.

It isn’t only free speech at stake here. Among the rights articulated in the First Amendment to the US Constitution is the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Whether you agree with the tens (perhaps hundreds) of thousands who gathered in Washington DC on January 6, 2021 to object to what they believe to have been an unlawful presidential election and widespread rigging and fraud, they were by definition an aggrieved party whose assembly and expression the First Amendment is designed to protect. Indeed, I can think of no better illustration of what our First Amendment rights looks like than what happed outside the Capitol building on January 6.

What happened inside the building was not an exercise of free speech. While I have long maintained that violence is sometimes necessary in the defense of freedom and person (just war, self-defense, overthrow of tyranny), the violence perpetrated by individuals breaching the Capitol building was ethically unjustified and politically counterproductive. The group that entered the Capitol building with bad intent crossed over from protester to criminal. Some were vandals. Others may have thought they were insurrectionists, but in reality they seemed more narcissists and troublemakers than coup plotters and operators. Some may have thought they were stopping the counting of electoral votes. But they must have realized they were too small in number to affect anything. Perhaps they were too stupid to. All were trespassers if they were not supposed to be there. Prosecute them.

Again, for the record, because I am principled, I have advocated the same for those who broke the law during the Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots, which were much more destructive in degree and scale (see, e.g., Portland and the Rule of Law and The Riotous Left is on the Wrong Side of Democracy and Justice).

To sum up this section, it should trouble all of us to see an emerging argument that rightwing populists have no right to exercise their First Amendment rights. The notion that objecting to the 2020 election results is in itself an incitement to violence is nothing more than telling the public that they are not allowed to object to the 2020 election results. In other words, don’t question the process by which your president is selected if you are on the wrong side. That’s exactly the message members of a totalitarian society can expect to receive—and not complain about it.

* * *

As a social scientist, I find it fascinating how easy it is those in power to so freely suppose things, in this case the notion that those who breached the Capitol building were there to stop the vote counting under the spell of a profoundly deluded belief that this would change anything, while, on the other hand, claim that it’s conspiracy theory to suppose that what actually happened was what was actually desired. The charge of conspiracy theory is of course a thought-stopping exercise. It is mean to shame those who posit an alternative explanation while designating the prevailing narrative as the obvious one. This allows assertions to be made without presenting evidence or presenting as evidence more supposition.

Those of you who know me know I am a criminologist and sociologist of the law. Conspiracy is an ordinary category of criminal law. People are arrested, charged, tried, and found guilty of conspiracy all the time. Accusing somebody of advancing a conspiracy theory is a propaganda ploy. A conspiracy is merely a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful. Moreover, in law, as in science, one can have theories about anything, including even secret plans by groups up to unlawful and harmful actions. When advancing theories, the lawyer or the scientists wants ones that make sense.

The theory that those who breached the Capitol as part of a conspiracy to save Trump’s presidency strikes me not merely as a bad one, but a crazy one. Yet it is held with such confidence that it spins out in bizarre what-ifs like this one from veteran journalist Juan Williams, “What if the coup had worked?” Williams writes in The Hill, “That would have extended President Trump’s control of the White House— and the military—possibly past Inauguration Day until the radicals relented. The Trump seditionists wanted just such a coup. And they came close.”

I wish that crazy was all there was to it. But, as with some other bad theories (for example, critical race theory) we’re about to change the way we live and work on account of it. People aren’t supposed to think about the fact that those who claim this was an insurrection for Trump are advancing a conspiracy theory. But they are.

Then there is at the false flag crowd. Was the mob really trying to stop the counting of electoral votes? Or was the mob trying to stop the challenging of electoral votes? If we are honest, it looks a lot like the latter. If feels a bit too opportune. (See Kit Knightly’s “‘The Storming of the Capitol’: America’s Reichstag Fire?”) I know folks aren’t supposed to think that, but they are. They’re thinking that if the rioters were instead trying the stop the challenging of electoral votes, then mission accomplished. Biden is now president-elect and it is highly unlikely that challenges to that result will be able to move forward now.

Media claims that there were no Antifa involved is said with too much confidence. How do they know? Indeed, it would seem they don’t know the first thing about Antifa. If they did they would know that Antifa is always at public events where there are conservatives and rightwing populists. Antifa apology has always struck me as highly suspicious. The media goes out of its way to deny their significance on the trans-Atlantic political landscape.

According to America’s oldest newspaper, The New York Post, which got the Hunter Biden laptop story right when all the other media refused to report on it and establishment security officials ran interference for Biden, at least two known Antifa members were spotted among the protesters. This is according to a law enforcement source. The Antifa members disguised themselves with pro-Trump clothing to join in the DC rioting. Law enforcement identified them while monitoring video coverage from the Capitol. The infiltrators were known to police, having participated in the New York City demonstrations. Why would Antifa disguise themselves as Trump supporters? So that Trump would get blamed, the source said. Were these the only two? We are waiting for more information to come out, but never forget that Antifa is more than an idea. (And, no, they are not in the room with me right now.)

Attempted Coup at U.S. Capitol Proves This Is United States of QAnon -  Rolling Stone
Apparently Donald Trump’s coup was organized and led by Jake Angeli (aka QAnon Shaman), an aspiring actor from Arizona. He’s the one dressed as a buffalo.

One especially absurd theory I have been reading about on social media is that the police were assisting Trump in his plot to assume dictatorial powers. This is typically a progressive angle. Even respectable progressive magazines like Jacobin flirt with this notion, its Peter Gowan writing, “Let’s get one thing out of the way: if the federal police did not want far-right protesters to be inside the Capitol, they would not be inside the Capitol.” Trump and his Republican Party representing the ruling class, the story goes, so this is fascism rising.

Assume for a moment that the police work primarily for the interests of the ruling class. If this is true, and the left is likely to agree that it is, then when those who see the police waving protestors into the Capitol uncritically suppose the cops are working for Trump, shouldn’t we know right away that they are uninterested in exploring the nature of political power? After all, perhaps nothing is more true than this: Trump is not and never has been a member of the ruling class. If he were, he would not have been been falsely accused of colluding with the Russians, impeached and tried in the Senate for a phone call to the Ukrainian president, condemned for his handling of the pandemic, mocked for his foreign policy, smeared as a fascist for defending the southern border, or, as he is now, being accused of trying to overthrow the American republic.

It’s not that those who lie to you don’t have a theory of power. They’re not really uninterested in such questions. They just don’t want you to have a theory of power. They don’t want you to be interested. Because if you did, if you were, if you had a theory of how the world works, then you would grasp the significance of this fact: in the world of big money, Trump is but a bit-player, a small-time businessman from Queens whose election to the presidency was a complete surprise to the ruling class. The ruling class is on the record as regarding Trump as a short-fingered vulgarian whose candidacy was supposed to embody and play the part of the court jester in the coronation of Hillary Clinton.

But the clown won and embarrassed the establishment. He poked a hole in what sociologist C. Wright Mills long ago called the power elite assumed was the perfect control system: the two-party political apparatus, what is actually, when it is working properly, the hegemonic uniparty. Trump decimated the entire Republican field in the Republican primary. He exploded every supposed Republican shibboleth. The myths of the neoconservative were one by one shattered. And that hits the Democrats, too. They were ready for Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard. They weren’t ready for Donald Trump. The Clintons even promoted him as a “pied piper” candidate. Hillary still doesn’t believe she lost to the man.

Trump brought along with him those Hillary dubbed “the deplorables,” petty bourgeois and working class Americans whose patriotism, populism, and nationalism threatened to upset the globalist agenda. The vulgarian threatened to let the rabble inside the protective belt the power elite had been building for years. Not inside the Capitol building. Inside the political and ideological barriers that were erected decades ago and elaborated over the ensuing decades to keep away ordinary Americans from self-government. Democracy is not for the common man. Democracy is a game for elites. The common man is too dumb for democracy. Trump is proof of that tenet of modern politics.

The power elite have been trying to figure a way to undo that election ever since 2016. Their efforts have been wild. Their lies big and bold. Add to their incessant and unhinged attempts to delegitimize him, a near-total blackout of the man’s accomplishments on matters of great importance to working class interests: criminal justice reform, fuller employment and higher wages, immigration restrictions, America first trade policy, and foreign policy.

In the end, the establishment won. Operatives for both major parties rigged an election, cynically using a pandemic to weaken the integrity of your vote, and, when the moment came where national consciousness was sure to be raised, a ragtag regiment of misfits fought with police officers, breached the Capitol building, and engaged in vandalism and petty theft.

Aware that the motley crew who invaded the Capitol building were ridiculous people, progressive media desperately try to spin the situation. Here’s a choice headline from Common Dreams: “Yes It Was Attempted by Wingnuts, But It Was a Coup Attempt Just the Same.” Dear Juan Cole, this was not a coup attempt. It was a stunt by am assortment of ne’er-do-wells. These individuals are not representative of Trump supporters.

Of course, we don’t need to determine motive to determine how actions function in the scheme of things, that is, in the results they bring about. Perhaps the man in the buffalo costume wasn’t there to sink Trump’s second term. Maybe he had no plan at all. He doesn’t look like a man with a plan. Maybe the best he can pull off is gathering together a handful of weirdos seeking celebrity to pull of a stunt for his own self-aggrandizement. The media, operating from an unreasonable conspiracy theory with no reasonable boundaries, is seeking a response from the White House because the man dressed as a buffalo claims Trump invited him to take over the Capitol building. They might ask themselves whether they are being buffaloed.

But we must recognize that two disconnected events can become interrelated in history because they advance an agenda. A prime example of this is how the attacks of September 11, 2001 by Muslim terrorists were exploited by neoconservatives to expand and elaborate the national security state and put into action the Project for a New American Century (see my War Hawks and the Ugly American: The Origins of Bush’s Middle East Policy). I do no in any way mean to compare the Capitol riots to 9/11 in scope, scale, or seriousness. Ilhan Omar downplays the significance of 9/11. I don’t. I mean only to illustrate how the opportunistic never let a crisis go to waste, even if it means building up something into a crisis and accepting as given that which requires evidence. Some have supposed George W. Bush at the very least allowed 9/11 to happen, that this was a new Pearl Harbor. I remain agnostic on that question. But what happened happened. It changed the course of a nation. And a lot of people died.

A mob decked out in patriotic paraphernalia was exactly what the establishment needed at that moment. But the elite need more than this. Just like the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington DC gave the government led by establishment figures Bush and Dick Cheney justification for implementing a range of security measures they had waiting on the shelf, most famously the ironically named the USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act, the “attempted coup” on Wednesday provides the perfect opportunity to crush the populist-nationalist movement under the guise of defending the country from “domestic terrorism.”

Right on cue, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin announced that he will reintroduce the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act in the wake of the Capitol Hill attack. Durbin’s bill targets in particular conservatives and right-wingers. If you have a theory of power, you knew this was coming. The PATRIOT ACT used “foreign threats” to justify elaborating the national security state. Now they’ll use “domestic threats” to further entrench the national security state. 

I want to close this section on a theoretical note. Many of you may not know who C. Wright Mills is. But for those of you who do, you know that Mills didn’t care if you thought he was crazy. He really didn’t. He was a biker from Waco, Texas who died in his forties from a massive heart attack. It took four or five of them to do the trick. He was a tough hombre. Mills was more concerned with acknowledging the obvious and telling the truth then he was about what people thought about him. This is because he was a man of unusual moral character. For this, he was acknowledged, albeit sideways, by that great general and president Dwight D. Eisenhower. I do not claim to be in their league, but I will proudly associate myself with men like Mills. (This is a teaser. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog in which Mills prominently figures. Until then, you might want to learn about him and his landmark 1956 The Power Elite.)

* * *

Trump had to tweet his latest declaration of intent to see a peaceful transfer of power through White House deputy chief of staff for communications Dan Scavino’s account because, as I noted earlier, Twitter (along with other social media platforms) is censoring the President. I am paraphrasing his message here: There will be an orderly transition on January 20 and Joe Biden will be sworn in as President. The suggestion that Trump wouldn’t leave office has always among the more silly advanced by the media. As silly as it was, however, it scared a lot of people. And that was the point. As I have said, it is in the spirit of preparing the ground for the more thoroughgoing national security state.

Trump released a long version of his thoughts on this, but social media didn’t want you to hear those words. The video was banned by a number of platforms. What did Trump say in the video? Fortunately, they couldn’t memory hole the transcript. “I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us—from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel, but go home, and go home in peace.”

It was almost as if social media did not want the violent protesters to hear Trump message telling them to go home. They certainly didn’t want Trump supporters to hear the phrase “fraudulent election.” But, on an emotional level, the video is a total disaster in the effort to dehumanize the man. Trump sounds like a sweet and decent human being who empathizes with his supporters. Social media operatives cannot abide by anything that contradicts the narrative that Trump is anything but a selfish fascist thug. As Ben Shapiro likes to say, Trump is a big orange bad man who is bad because he is big and orange.

That Big Tech and the legacy media loathe this president that much has been obvious since he won the presidency. Think about it: Trump keeps denouncing white supremacy. The media keeps asking him, “Why won’t you just denounce white supremacy?” What was it? Thirty-eight times he’s denounced white supremacy? How many presidents do we need to go through before we approach that number? Trump says there will be a peaceful and order transition of power. The media terrifies the public with suggestions that Trump plans to barricade himself in the White House (while mocking him when he had actually had to do that in the face of Antifa and BLM protestors). Trump calls for peace. The media accuses him of inciting a riot. This is textbook gas lighting.

Finally Trump got through to the public at large with the below video, carried by major network and cable news. The ABC News coverage doesn’t wrap the concession in the ridiculous accusation that Trump incited the riot, so I am using that one.

Trump concedes

* * *

So Trump is going away. What about those 74 million Trump supporters? I don’t think they’re going away. The establishment treats them as if they don’t really exist. There appears to be no awareness that bullying Trump is bullying half the country’s population. How did Trump get into the White House in the first place? How was he able to gain more than 10 million more voters in 2020 compared to four years earlier? The establishment is aware of the alternative media system is being developed on the populist right: CloutHub, Parler, America’s Voice, etc. Full spectrum populist-nationalists media. The ongoing purge of conservatives on the major social media platforms is a gift to the new network. A year from now it will be very difficult to keep the people out of the loop without a more authoritarian Chinese-like control system.

So Big Tech is moving the country farther down the CCP road to meet this new threat. According to Axios, Google suspended Parler from app store pending the development of user policy that conformed to Google’s dictates. Applies has threatened banning Parler with the same demands. In what Steve Bannon has called the “night of the digital long knives,” social media platforms have purged thousands of accounts and shadow banned thousands more. The main targets were the biggest social influencers in conservative populist conservative circles. Bannon’s show War Room Pandemic was removed entirely from YouTube. They also removed Rudy Giuliani’s Common Sense podcast. The elites have clearly been thinking about those 45 percent of Republicans who at least support some sort of violent intervention in our Capitol.

Big Tech is clamping down in part because they worry that they will lose their immunity (they should) and see their monopoly broken up (it should) if they don’t flatter the ruling class and marginalize populists. Now that Democrats control the legislative and executive branches, social media is moving to exclude populists from conversations about how to proceed with respect to corporate power. Big Tech and the progressive establishment must prevent populism from returning because populism is the force that challenges the globalist project. Trump and his populist allies in Congress were moving the take away immunity and break up their monopoly.

Will there be a backlash? We might reflect on what MLK, Jr. said about the language of the unheard. Expanding and elaborating their own social networks will move the deplorables beyond the frustration expressed in riots to a more comprehensive and rational program. Thwarting the elaboration of these networks will add the frustration that fuels riotous sentiments. I’m not advocating violence. I am making an observation. King was correct about how disregard for those who wish to be heard suggests riots as a means of communication. John F. Kennedy put it this way: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” He said this in a speech expressing a desire for a “hemisphere where all men can hope for a suitable standard of living and all can live out their lives in dignity and in freedom.” For Kennedy, more that suggesting violent action, stifling the desire for peaceful change guarantees it.

I can hear people objecting that it is wrong to appeal to King to describe the frustrations right wing people feel. This is because they use King to justify burning structures, pulling down statues, desecrating memorials, looting stores, vandalizing property, physically assaulting civilians and police officers, and intimidating white citizens into swearing featly to Black Lives Matter. Conservatives and rightwing populists aren’t even entitled to their grievances. White privilege and all that. But they are Americans like the rest of us. And the vast majority of them are peaceful and upstanding citizens.

We can hope that the extent of the populist media is such that it is limiting the ability of the ruling class to regain control over the American mind. Polls showing that tens of millions of Americans continue to grasp reality must be a source of great frustration for those whose function is mind control. There is something very scary that lurks in elite failure, however, namely the impulse to move beyond information warfare to kinetic warfare. Talk of “domestic terrorism” is an indicator of the direction in which the elite are willing to move. At the same time, a majority of Americans now believe Trump should leave or be removed from office, so the establishment can still move mass public opinion in a desired ideological direction in the face of objective reality.

* * *

Did the rally that day incite an insurrection? I watched the rally at which, most notably, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney and former major of New York City, and then President Trump spoke. No speaker at the event encouraged the crowd to commit violence. The implication that just by speaking to supporters Trump encourages violence feeling very wrong, the media rationalizes what Trump and his surrogates say as encouraging violence.

Actually to call it rationalization is too kind. It’s lying. Remember when MIT Linguist Noam Chomsky once said about the establishment media’s coverage of an overseas events that the amount of lying by reporters and editors was so vast that it would make Stalin cringe? I feel PRETTY confident in repurposing that phraseology today in regards to the way the establishment media has covered the last several years of domestic events. Throw Goebbels in there, as well. Even he would be astonished at the audacious attempt of the establishment to not, as the Nazis did, paint a minority as the enemy of the people, but to portray the majority as such.

Reminiscent of how the media twisted Trump’s words after the Charlottesville incident, when he was supposed to have said that neo-Nazis and white supremacists were “very fine people,” the media twisted Giuliani’s words. For example, The Independent carried the headline “Rudy Giuliani says pro-Trump rioters attacking US Capitol building are ‘on the right side of history.’” Giuliani did not say this. Here’s what he said:

* * *

I don’t know if there was any polling on this at the time, but I am sure that a lot of Germans believed for some times after the Reichstag fire that it was the Communists not the Nazis who set the fire that led to the consolidation of power into the hands of the party and the constellation of banks and corporations that party represented. No, I’m not agreeing with Kit Knightly that what happened at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 was a false flag operation. I making an observation about the uncritical character of popular assumptions.

That bit of history that brings me to this concluding point: If a cogent and straightforward definition of fascism can be had, it might look something like this: the amalgamation of state monopoly capitalism, a technocratically-oriented administrative apparatus, and effective one-party rule. This amalgamation is supported by a vast communications, cultural, and educational infrastructure that transmits the values and virtues that legitimize the prevailing structure of power. In such a system, other opinions cannot be tolerated. More than this, not content with silencing alternative views, professing allegiance to doctrine is expected and persons who fail articulate the correct position will be smear or punished.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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