Monday, January 11, 2021

Two Realities in Jan 6th protest - 2nd impressions: Step into my parlor, said the spider to the fly

You all know that I take a very dim view of violent behavior & property damage, especially on the part of large numbers of people who then attempt to excuse such rioting as 'exercising first amendment rights', which is a despicable lie, and one which endangers us all. To cut to the chase: I have zero sympathy for any of those who knew or should have known that they were breaking into the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6th, and my thoughts tend more towards Napoleon's methods of crowd control via cannon fire, than fretting about escalation.

But. Was there a riot? Well... let's come back to that. Was there an incitement to riot? Did people who were there see a riot? And if not, what evidence is there for there having been a riot? Have the people who are claiming to be outraged over the supposed riot, shown any hint of disapproval of rioting in the past? Have those Leftists and media apparatchiks who are today speaking so reverently of the Constitution and the Rule of Law, recently and vocally sung a very different tune in advocating the burning of the flag, habitually denigrating America, violence in general, rioting and tearing down statues? If so (the answer is yes) then they and their concerns can be dismissed. 

But other concerns remain: Was Washington D.C. left in flames? Was even a single church set ablaze? Did numerous cars have their windows smashed in and get overturned and set aflame? Were entire city blocks worth of shop windows smashed in, and stores looted? Were innocent passersby assaulted? Did 'rioters' seek to lock people in the Capitol and set it aflame in the manner that BLM/Antifa besieged a federal courthouse for months in Portland? IOW, was this planned and properly permitted rally, anything like the multiple instances of BLM/Antifa riots that we've been subjected to all of last year? The evidence is pretty clear that the answer to that is a big fat 'No!'.

But. Something sure as hell happened. People are dead. Several others were injured. So what do you call it, if not a riot? Let's start with the basics. A riot is traditionally what it is called when any three people gather and produce a tumultuous disturbance of the peace, and is defined as:
"A disturbance of the peace by several persons, assembled and acting with a common intent in executing a lawful or unlawful enterprise in a violent and turbulent manner."
So technically yes, it was a riot... but was it a riot in the same manner that we saw Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi cheering on over and over again, over the summer? Was it the kind of riot where thousands of people spontaneously gathered in the streets with no permit, deliberately intentionally preventing the free movement of others, deliberately causing a disturbance of the peace, and eventually into a full on violent riot in the streets, with mass destruction of property, looting, setting cars and buildings aflame?

No, this was something entirely different. The gathering itself was planned, permitted, and peaceful in its organization and execution; there was no deliberate prevention of movement, there was no assaulting of people in their cars or on foot, there was no damaging of property as the demonstration passed by, and no looting of businesses or arson.

This was a very different reality from what we saw with 2020 vision this summer - this was more of what we might describe for the moment as an indoor riot, as distinguished from the '*normal*' street riot. When and where it DID become a riot, was with the actions of a relative few who began unlawfully breaking and entering into the Capitol Building itself, and that's when and where it became an actual riot.

How did it come about? Was there an incitement to riot or insurrection? Read Trump's speech. Perhaps opinions may vary, but this:
"...We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated. Lawfully slated.

I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. ..."
, is not what I take to be 'incitement to riot'. And as a friend of mine pointed out, President Trump had a couple hundred thousand eager fans on hand waiting on his every word, and all he could manage by way of 'intentionally inciting riot & insurrection', was to get only a few dozen of them to break a couple windows and doors in the Capitol Building and walk around taking selfies of each other sitting in representatives offices? 'Worst. Incitement. Ever.' Sad. Especially as we've just gone through an entire summer of Nancy Pelosi & Maxine Waters achieving massive and repeated rioting nationwide, with billions of dollars of property damage, and scores of lives lost, without even trying! 

Come on, man! 

No, while I think Trump's publicly attempting to pressure his Vice President, Mike Pence, to make a weighty constitutional decision through an argument of public taunting, was a desperate act of poor judgement, he made zero incitement to riot or to carry out any form of violence. So no, I'm going with there having been no call to riot, no street riot, and no incitement to riot or stage a coup.

But something most definitely did happen, we've seen videos of people charging over barricades, breaking into the capitol, physically assaulting police officers, disobeying orders to disperse (that's the point where I would've been completely fine with the police opening fire on those 'protesters'). 

But. We also have many, many people, who claim that they saw no violence, no break ins, and even several claims that they were let into the building by the Capitol police. So. What are we dealing with here?

Starting with the anecdotal, I have heard from numerous friends who were there at the rally in D.C., some with their children in tow, that they saw no sign at all of any criminal or violent behavior occurring, and many can be seen on video strolling through the capitol building, staying behind the velvet ropes as if on a tour, with capitol police clearly standing still and silent as they passed them by. What they've told me, is very similar to what this letter from the attorney of a newly elected state delegate from West Virginia describes, that he had no suspicion that anything was amiss,
"... His footage shows that members of the public were already inside the Capitol by the time he entered. Evans’ footage shows no riotous behavior taking place at that time. Protesters can be observed calmly walking around. Upon entering, Evans observed a police officer to his right, who was calmly standing watch inside the doorway through which he entered. No members of the protest were assaulting or resisting the officer in any way. Nor was the officer asking the protestors to leave. Instead, the officer gave Evans a “fist-bump” which can be observed on the video footage. This is consistent with Evans obviously having a belief that the crowd was being allowed into this public area of the Capitol at that time. Again, he had no knowledge of what had already occurred on the other side of the Capitol grounds. This area of the U.S. Capitol is generally open to the public year-round, and is only closed at the time due to COVID-19 concerns...."
Is it possible to experience two such very different realities, at the same time, and seemingly in the same place?

It may seem odd, but at a place like the Capitol Building, I think the answer is yes, that might actually be possible. I've never been to our nation's capital, but I have been to events at Missouri's state capital, which was modeled on the same plan of the building in Washington D.C., and I can tell you from our experience with holding Tea Party rallies there, while at the same time there was a hostile rally being held by fans of communism on the other side of the capitol building, at the very same time we were having ours, it is in fact very possible to have two very different realities playing out on opposite sides of the same capital building, and to do so with the people on one side having no idea what the people on the other side are doing. I'm willing to acknowledge that the intentions of the protest itself was nothing more than protesting, and that those who were let into the building by Capitol Police had at least some reason to believe that they were walking through the building by permission. I'm also willing to acknowledge that out of the hundreds of thousands of people who were attending the event, that most had no knowledge of - at least at first - of the criminal actions that were being taken by a relative few people at their fringes.

That being said, I'm still very much of a mind that, especially as things have been for the last year, that it was incredibly naïve of them, even reckless, for this protest not to have been stringently monitored and policed by the very people who were in it, and especially so for the organizers of the protest. What excuse can any of them possibly have for not having been on a heightened guard against any and all suspicious or duplicitous actions? One friend made a statement which in normal times would be considered quite sensible, that "...if they didn’t want us in the damn building we never would’ve been in the building...", but having just gone through the last 4yrs, I can't help but saying: Come on man! 

Has no one ever seen the old B-movie trope of a prisoner having his cell door '*accidentally left open*' so that the unsuspecting prisoner would step outside his cell to be immediately shot dead for attempting to escape? Was no one on the lookout for the tangled webs that are weaved by those plotting to deceive? Apparently not, as the entire crowed strolled right into a dangerous web of clashing realities. They should have realized that this 'StopTheSteal' event was not taking place in the context of the 2010 Tea Parties, but in the dangerously different context of our just having gone through four years of an officially trumped up impeachment effort against a sitting and duly elected president, orchestrated by hostile factions within our own government, and even by people within the FBI! And add to that the fact that many of those organizers and attendees have been loudly calling for secession and wanting to 'fight for Trump', not to mention the fact that you had members from the ludicrous 'Proud Boys!' joining in with your demonstration, reports of some antifa planning to infiltrate them, and a dude in a friggin' buffalo costume(!); and your excuse for walking wide eyed into the Capitol Building is that they wouldn't have let you in if they didn't want you to be in there? Did it really not occur to anyone that maybe they really did want you in there, but for more nefarious reasons than letting you experience a free tour?

Come on man!

Everyone at that protest should have been made to be extremely wary of, and on their guard against, not only being associated with or framed for criminal mischief, or just foolish behavior from overly enthusiastic supporters, but also to be on the lookout for any oddly welcoming invitations being extended to them in a situation where their presence alone could so easily make them all into usefully convenient patsies for the spinning of scandalous stories that would serve up very different agendas than their own. It seems to me that there was a massive failure on the part of both organizers and attendees to give a due regard to the weighty responsibility involved in bringing such a large gathering of people together, for political purposes, in times of high tensions and deep divisions. Major precautions should have been taken, and if they were, I haven't heard of them, and more importantly, if they were taken they clearly didn't work.

And while it does seem to be true that the numbers of bad actors at the protest amounted to only a handful (something like 50 have been arrested, with as many more still being sought), yet it also seems apparent that most of those who knew or should have known that they were in the building illegally, were from the Right, some of them even filmed themselves boasting of having put 'cops on the run'. Yes, a few of them do seem to have been with antifa/BLM, but that doesn't absolve a sizable number of the 'innocent crowd' from having enabled those wrongs that did take place. Sure, when some of the despicable few began trying to break a window, many shouted 'Stop! Traitor!', which is swell and all, but why weren't those vandals physically overwhelmed and body slammed on the spot when they continued trying to break those windows? Why were people simply walking by as the one police SUV that was damaged, had its tires slashed by one amongst the protesters? Why weren't those situations dealt with and nipped in the bud? My guess is that, at the very least, it is because there was no organized message plan for dealing with such issues, or if there was one it wasn't disseminated into the groups, and I cannot find any way of excusing that.

But even with that being the case, what occurred in our nation's capitol on January 6th was not another instance of the 'mostly peaceful protest' that set last summer aflame, but an actually peaceful protest on one side, and a lawless and criminal action on the other, in the same general place, at the same time, by people with two very different perceptions of what 'peaceful assembly' and 'petitioning your government', are all about. 

A constant theme of mine before, during and since the Tea Party, has been that it is not enough to simply feel Pro-American, you've got to understand and stand up for those beliefs in a way that doesn't undermine them. That didn't happen, effectively at least, on January 6th.

But charging either Trump or the vast majority of the crowd there with riot? Insurrection? A coup?! Hunting them down and getting the fired and ostracized from society? Nope. Sorry. Doesn't apply.

What most comes to mind when listening to friends who were there talking about how they were just there to show their support, to 'do something!', and to fellowship and take in the sights, while entirely unawares that anything untoward was happening nearby and under the cover of their presence, is:
"Step into my parlor, said the spider to the fly..."
Something very strange happened in our nation's capitol last week, with two very different sets of experiences going on simultaneously, and whether by mischance or deliberate design, or both, the result has been pure chaos - a woman was killed in the Capitol Building, a police officer was killed in our nation's capitol building, a person was trampled to death - Saul Alinsky would be so thrilled, and it stands to reason that those still employing his 'principles' are as well. 

There is no excusing any misbehavior that actually did take place in our nation's capitol last week.  And the chaos attending January 6th, which yours truly tried to warn folks about the possibility of, has led to a new round of 'never let a good crisis go to waste' being employed, with developments coming fast and furiously which, just weeks ago, would've seemed an alternate reality that few would have given any credence to, even in the year 2020. The spider must be feeling pretty confident that it has caught its fly.

For instance, picking just a few of the more obviously sticky issues off the top:
  • Joe Biden, while speaking of unity, has likened Senators Cruz and Hawley to Nazi propagandists.

  • Twitter & Facebook have deleted the sitting President of the United States account.
  • Twitter and Facebook have deleted tens of thousands of accounts of 'Right Wing' users.
  • Google & Apple have both removed the Twitter competitor Parlor from Android and Apple app stores.
  • Amazon's Web Services is shutting down Parlor's servers on January 10th, which will very likely shutter the company for at least a week while they scramble to find another service to host them.
  • The sentiment of many leftists has been an eagerness to eliminate anyone associated with Republicans from any participation in public life, which is not only twisted attitude to hold towards half of the population, it's an ominous one to be advocating for.
  • , and the list goes on, and on, and on.

    No amount of 'Buts' can excuse what happened last week, and the alternate reality it has generated is a new fact of life that America is waking up to this week, and though it seems too akin to a dystopian sci-fi story to be taken seriously, it is what is to be seen all around us when we look outside today. Two very different realities are shaping up into a gritty competition for our future - neither one of which is a future that many of us would have ever imagined that any Americans would have any interest in ever seeing, at all.

    And yet we're here.

    Use your head folks, think about what you mean by America, and good luck.

    NOTE: This was first published without the draft that included the section defining what a riot is, and distinguishing between the 2020 Street Riot, and last week's interior riot in the spider's parlor. My face is very, very, red.

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