Some quick thoughts on a disturbing day
I really feel like I'm in a political minority here in that I agree with condemning the summer's violence and property crime, and also with this. (And, yes, I agree this is worse.) Maybe that's just the bubble I'm in, but this has not felt like a significant constituency.
It's a sad and pathetic moment for our country. That said, I think this will backfire massively on the Republican party. The rift between the pro-governance wing (Romney, Collins, Toomey) and the mad hyenas of Q-Anon and faction is going to get MUCH bigger. This will not help them in the suburbs. And it will have resounding effects for anyone who believes in the professionalism of government (even if they come from a right wing worldview). There is a revanchist faction that does not care for that, but I believe they will continue to be a minority. As purple district Republicans are pushed out by a mad primary system, I see them going into the wilderness for quite a few years until they elect a Charlie Baker / Larry Hogan type to lead them out.
I hope that this event means that Josh Hawley has overplayed his hand because his weird brand of right wing populism makes me ready to more deeply consider Calexit. The victories in Georgia are such a balm and they really seem to point a way forward. I hope that a lot of the folks who are caught up in these fever dreams have some regrets about what is transpiring today and that it helps the fever to break.
I try to be specific and literal (rather than colloquial) when using legally defined terms like “sedition” but to my non-lawyer eyes it sure seems like this fits under 18 U.S. Code § 2384 - Seditious conspiracy:
“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”
Do we have it confirmed that the National Guard wasn't deployed because Trump didn't want them deployed?
It is morally reprehensible and misleading to draw any sort of equivalence between what happened today and progressives' hesitation to condemn rare instances of violence from people who were themselves victims of far more concerning and systematic police violence over the summer.
Matt, I think you're being a little kind to the Capitol Police here. Yes, it seems like there was a failure by management to deploy them adequately, but in the face of rioters who ignored their orders, they seem to have often done nothing but fall back. From the photographs it really doesn't seem that there were that many people.
It took until they were at the door of the house chamber before anyone planted their feet and said we will shoot you if you come in here. In the senate they failed completely. When there's footage out there of cops joking around and taking selfies with people inside the house, there needs to be reckoning on their utter refusal to do their job.
I am disgusted by some of the comments I’m seeing here. How the hell can you compare people protesting for criminal justice reform, even if some were excessive, with violent insurrectionists attempting to seize the US Capitol??
It became fashionable for a time this spring and summer to post about that MLK quote about riots as the voice of the unheard, but without the full context:
“And I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I'm absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention.”
And so yes, committing violence is bad. But come on, look at the conditions that underly the two causes here. On one hand, you have minorities protesting the conditions of violence that have been inflicted on them. On the other hand, you have delusional chauvinists antithetically opposed to the democratic process.
And look at the magnitudes here!! The protests of the summer were largely peaceful, but some did result in property damage. At worst there was what, a handful of people that tried to damage a courthouse? These people today SIEZED THE US CAPITOL BUILDING. Any suggestion of equivalence is grossly misguided.
My only question from today is how to beat punish every single person who participated in today’s invasion. Personally, I want to see them hit with the maximum possible penalties possible, up to life in prison if possible. But we don’t want to make them into martyrs, so maybe just a sedition charge or something. But they MUST be punished harshly.
And of course, if our congress had any decency, Trump would be impeached by the end of tomorrow.
"And I hope that progressives will recognize the overwhelming importance of securing those wins, and be willing to make whatever concessions to the moderates are necessary to make them comfortable with taking those steps. It’s progressives more than anyone else who’ve recognized the danger of the moment we’re in today and hav been in for years. But part of recognizing the danger is prioritizing victory. Some issues just aren’t winners, especially given the slanted nature of America’s political geography. And to win — fair and square and without mob violence — is critically important right now. More so than making edgy or self-indulgent statements."
This is extremely important. The Republic is riding on it. We may not be able to get Manchin and others to change (though there's hope after today) but we can make sure that progressives aren't a millstone around the Democrats' necks by changing messaging and emphasis and agreeing that compromise is a fundamental part of democracy.
So this is an unpopular take on today's insanity but I'm sticking with it and losing friends to the left and right. Trump deserves maximum blame for this fiasco without question, but I do question how much if any guilt should be apportioned to the rioters. It's all very theoretical, but I have to assume that the large majority of these rioters aren't thinking gee I wish Biden hadn't won, I'm going to go take over the capitol. That's a really big and dangerous step. Instead, I think they are, not unreasonably, taking their lead from the leader of their country and whatever talking heads they take their guidance from, that the election was stolen and it's their patriotic duty to right this wrong. It seems like a similar motivation to the crowds that overthrew governments in Russia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. They're being stupid but patriotic in their own bizarre minds. As a counterfactual, what if the election really were stolen, which was usually the case in the countries I mentioned previously? As a lone rioter you don't have access to any firsthand information one way or another. But if your political leader, your opinion leaders, and all the people you know and trust are saying it was stolen, then it's not a bad thing to act on it. In fact, it would be a very good thing and a last ditch attempt to maintain a functional democracy.
I hate Trump and all he stands for, but I just think his misguided followers deserve some sort of benefit of the doubt assuming they do in fact believe the election was stolen and was really a Trump landslide. Going easy on them might encourage future craziness, but I'm genuinely torn as to what I'd do with them right now.
tl;dr of way too many of the comments here:
Clearly the mob today is justified at stopping the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory, damaging the capitol building, etc because Antifa/BLM riots bad.
They should reread Matt’s post because he does not draw that kind of equivalence and, although not hyperbolic like most of the media right now, is pretty clear that he sees the treatment of today’s “protesters” as quite different from the treatment of left wing protesters.
He calls it a putsch and an insurrection. He notes that the national guard was deployed in force in June and even includes a helpful picture. I think we need to take the following point more seriously and quit lumping (or pretending) Matt in with the false equivalency crowd.
“If this goes down in the books as a fun day at the zoo for the people involved, we will see more of it. Especially because given what we know of the partisan makeup of American police forces, the odds will always be that mobs of this sort tend to get kinder treatment than leftwing mobs.”
More damaging that the riot rhetoric is the "corporate Democrats are like Republicans" and whatnot. No one on the left should blur the line between what the GOP has fomented and any Democrat.
I’m guessing some of the comments this thread make the case for your distaste for comment sections. Some appear to be arguing forfascism with a friendly face. In Singapore, it is a crime to chew gumorwear your hair long.
One thing I find very frustrating in discussing the events of last summer is that I have nothing like a quantitative scale of what happened - how many people were involved, how many injuries were caused by participants, how many injuries were caused by police, how many buildings were damaged; and most importantly, I have even *less* information about any other potentially comparable events, like the 2017 women's march, various marches and/or riots in 1965 or 1968, events in other countries. Everything I've seen in any news outlet seems woefully incomplete and/or anecdotal, so all I can see is people reporting what they want to report about whether any events last summer were actually destructive.
I see someone's been going through this thread posting a link to a quantification of the insured property losses due to events of May 26-June 8 in the low ten figure range (https://www.axios.com/riots-cost-property-damage-276c9bcc-a455-4067-b06a-66f9db4cea9c.html) which is definitely a helpful start. But it's really hard for me to tell how to compare that to even Rodney King in 1992, because I don't know whether more or fewer businesses carry the relevant kind of insurance, so I can't tell if this is a large or small figure.
The underdiscussed consequence of liberal participation in the erosion of norms that promote lawlessness is that given the partisan makeup of police forces, it'll make it increasingly less likely that they'll actively intervene to protect Democratic lawmakers.
I'm fearful that an erosion of norms of civility that lead to a woman in pussyhat yelling at a Republican official at lunch or small groups of anti-police brutality demonstrators standing outside the Mayor's house, being viewed as acceptable, will lead to armed neckbearded men yelling at Democrats in restaurants and camping outside their homes.
I think it might be worth acknowledging that the majority of protests this past spring were peaceful (and often met with violence by law enforcement) and were made in the name of democracy and of equal justice under the law. no comparison in any way to what is happening today.