It’s Only Insurrection When the Other Guys Do It

On Thursday, March 30, more than a thousand activists gathered at Tennessee’s state capitol to demand restrictive gun laws. The House of Representatives’ legislative business was brought to a halt when three elected Democratic Party representatives, barking commands through a bullhorn, led the activists into the capitol building. There were no arrests.

Protestors began assembling inside and outside the state capitol in the morning. They confronted lawmakers as they arrived for legislative sessions. Later, a crowd gathered at War Memorial Plaza, where various speakers spoke about gun control following The Covenant School shooting on March 27, where a trans man murdered six Christians, including three children.

While the House of Representatives debated an education bill, the three Democrats violated the chamber’s rules by approaching the podium without being recognized to speak. The three were Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, and Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville.

Section 12 of the Tennessee Constitution reads: “Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member, but not a second time for the same offense; and shall have all other powers necessary for a branch of the Legislature of a free state.”

If leading a mob into the Tennessee state capitol building with bull horns and shutting down the democratic process such that it necessitated police intervention is not the disorderly behavior Section 12 is referring to, then to what on earth could those who authored that passage have been referring? Indeed, it looked an awful lot like what Democrats call an “insurrection.” Even more so, in fact; in this case, party members actually incited the mob to occupy the capitol.

In an egregious violation of that body’s rules, Tennessee State Representative Justin Jones calls on his colleagues to pass gun control legislation from the well of the House Chambers during the legislative session at the State Capitol Thursday, March 30, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Before getting to the expulsion and Nashville’s shameful vote to reinstate one of the Democrats, readers need to recognize that, contradicting these comparisons of these actions of the “Tennessee Three” to the civil rights activists of yesteryear, these protests were not intended to expand a civil right but rather to diminish one. They were seeking to abridge the fundamental right to self-defense.

This was not a violation of a house rule to throw rules and laws into question for the sake of enlarging the scope of rights to which citizens are entitled, such as the right of the people to keep arms to defend their homes and persons from rampant crime and violence on the streets of Memphis and Nashville, two of the most unsafe cities in America. This was a demand to restrict that right by attention-seeking personalities in violation of democratic rules—a demand to make it more difficult for their imperiled brothers and sisters to effect their human right to self-defense.

It was therefore all the more disturbing to listen to a man with no understanding of democratic norms or practices or American history exploit an opportunity to engage at length in an obnoxious exercise of anti-white bigotry using an affected voice in the preacher’s cadence ostensible to diminish the rights of those most subjected to the failure of progressive government to protect themselves.

In place of an orderly demand for enhancing public safety was disorderly action by disordered persons driven by inflated ego and an obnoxious sense of entitlement. Knowing that there were people watching the speech with tears in their eyes and muttering “Amen” just made the spectacle all the more troubling.

Nashville returns Justin Jones to the Tennessee State House despite, according to the definition used by Democrats, having led an insurrection in the capitol.

Despite the body of that chamber having spoken in accord with the state constitution concerning the fate of Justin Jones and his comrades, the Nashville Metropolitan Council voted Monday to return Justin Jones to the state legislature. The thirty-six council members at the meeting unanimously supported reinstating Jones, even suspending its rules to allow an immediate vote instead of holding a month-long nomination period.

I learned Monday night, that Jones was involved in assaulting a legislator at the capitol in 2019. Jones, attending a protest to remove from the capitol a statue of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, assaulted Republican Glen Casada. Jones was charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of disorderly conduct. Lawmakers attempted to ban him from the capitol then, since he represented a danger to legislators and others there on legitimate business. A judge blocked the ban.

That’s not all. Jones has been removed from and arrested during other protests, including a 2020 protest in the wake of the George Floyd’s death. That he was arrested indicates that he was not involved in peaceful protests.

I want to be clear: being arrested for civil disobedience is not necessarily wrongful conduct in a moral sense. But, unlike the protests against Jim Crow in the 1950s and 1960s, the riots of 2020 lacked the moral imperative. The protest against alleged racially disproportionate killing by police was a contrived matter.

A year later, Jones faced additional charges for allegedly throwing a traffic cone at a car during the protest.

The greatest predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Jones is sure to pull another stunt like he did on March 30. But this doesn’t matter to the politicians in Nashville. Preventing the process that would find a replacement for Jones, one who didn’t assault a legislator or lead an insurrection at the capitol just so the progressives running Nashville into the ground can stick a thumb in the eye of the state of Tennessee—this is what democracy look like?

Of course, we are dealing with a different definition of democracy. Progressives are not confused about what democracy is. When progressives use the word they mean two things: (a) rule by the corporate state through the technocratic apparatus; (b) action taken by their side beyond democratic norms and processes. In this context, (a) sees armed citizens of a certain ilk as a threat to its continued existence; (b) uses the occasion of mass murder by a disordered person to push (a)’s agenda.

Rinse, repeat.

You will note that progressives want to take away rifles of a certain sort, firearms they brand “weapons of war,” i.e., semi-automatic rifles. They seek to ban or restrict these weapons despite the fact that most gun homicides are perpetrated with handguns. In fact, more homicides are perpetrated with knives, and even fists and feet (personal weapons), than are perpetrated with “weapons of war.”

Why are progressives obsessed with these weapons? Because these are the weapons that would prove most effective against the agents of an administrative state when the final abolition of democratic-republican government arrives. Democrats are thinking in terms of war (abroad and at home).

This is why, for progressives, populism, i.e., the actual maximal democratic norms and processes, is declared “fascism.” Just as progressives redefine democracy to fit illiberal desire, they redefine opposition to corporate state authoritarianism as its opposite.

Like the Orwellian slogans, “Ignorance is strength,” “Freedom is slavery,” and “War is peace,” the desire here is to produce in the public mind a confusion that renders the slogan “Fascism is democracy.”

The reflex of progressivism is projection: conservatives and liberals are accused of what progressives are. This requires doublethink, a technique of control I have written about in the past and will again in greater depth in the near future.

This is why it is so important to read—or reread—Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. You must understand how the corporate state uses language to disrupt normal consciousness. The public is being conditioned to believe, depending on what is convenient for the corporate state, that the most sure things in the world are not sure at all or that a thing is the opposite of what we have always known it to be.

All eyes are on now on Shelby County to see what happens with Justin Pearson, the Memphis Democrat who was also expelled for his participation in the insurrection at the capitol.

Published by

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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