Glenn Greenwald’s latest newsletter from substack was nicely timed today. I was genuinely puzzled to see the front page of the Sunday Times left on my lawn this morning dominated by a 50 square inch photo, a scare headline and an article about the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol. The episode occurred 9 months ago. This was neither news or history. What’s going on here? [Notice of Correction: the original version had the date and time passed wrong. Stupid mistake.]
Then Greenwald’s piece arrived. “When a population is placed in a state of sufficiently grave fear and anger regarding a perceived threat, concerns about the constitutionality, legality and morality of measures adopted in the name of punishing the enemy typically disappear,” he wrote. “The first priority, indeed the sole priority, is to crush the threat. Questions about the legality of actions ostensibly undertaken against the guilty parties are brushed aside as trivial annoyances at best, or, worse, castigated as efforts to sympathize with and protect those responsible for the danger. When a population is subsumed with pulsating fear and rage, there is little patience for seemingly abstract quibbles about legality or ethics. The craving for punishment, for vengeance, for protection, is visceral and thus easily drowns out cerebral or rational impediments to satiating those primal impulses.”
I have never been able to understand how anyone could accept the obvious exaggeration of the extent, intent, and import of the riot. I really can’t: it amazes me. This was 300, more or less, irresponsible, mostly middle-aged fools, behaving like the Chicago peaceniks at the 1968 Democratic National Convention but with less coherence. Their riot paled in all respects to the Black Lives Matter rioting across the U.S.: less damage was done, far, far fewer people were injured, and the only individual killed was a rioter. Although the post-George Floyd riots shut down businesses and government functions for weeks, the process of certifying the 2020 election results, allegedly the action that the Capitol protesters wanted to halt, weren’t even delayed a day. The claim that these unhappy Trump loyalist idiots were trying to take over the government with bear spray and funny hats was and is nonsense, and transparently so. Yet Greenwald writes,
“For many liberals and Democrats in the U.S., 1/6 is the equivalent of 9/11. One need not speculate about that. Many have said this explicitly. Some prominent Democrats in politics and media have even insisted that 1/6 was worse than 9/11.Joe Biden’s speechwriters, when preparing his script for his April address to the Joint Session of Congress, called the three-hour riot ‘the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.’ Liberal icon Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), whose father’s legacy was cemented by years of casting 9/11 as the most barbaric attack ever seen, now serves as Vice Chair of the 1/6 Committee; in that role, she proclaimed that the forces behind 1/6 represent ‘a threat America has never seen before.’ The enabling resolution that created the Select Committee calls 1/6 “one of the darkest days of our democracy.” USA Today’s editor David Mastio published an op-ed whose sole point was a defense of the hysterical thesis from MSNBC analysts that 1/6 is at least as bad as 9/11 if not worse.S.V. Date, the White House correspondent for America’s most nakedly partisan ‘news’ outlet, The Huffington Post, published a series of tweets arguing that 1/6 was worse than 9/11 and that those behind it are more dangerous than Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda ever were.”
This goes beyond a Big Lie. This is a Big “I am the reincarnation of Napoleon Bonaparte!” Lie, repeated over and over as if it wasn’t screamingly false. How can Democrats confidently keep repeating it, and not fear that a substantial majority of even the dimmer members of the public aren’t going to conclude, “You know, these people lie to us!”?
“With those extremist and alarming premises fully implanted, there has been little tolerance for questions about whether proposed responses for dealing with the 1/6 “domestic terrorists” and their incomparably dangerous ideology are excessive, illegal, unethical, or unconstitutional. Even before Joe Biden was inaugurated, his senior advisers made clear that one of their top priorities was to enact a bill from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) — now a member of the Select Committee on 1/6 — to import the first War on Terror onto domestic soil. Even without enactment of a new law, there is no doubt that a second War on Terror, this one domestic, has begun and is growing, all in the name of the 1/6 “Insurrection” and with little dissent or even public debate.Following the post-9/11 script, anyone voicing such concerns about responses to 1/6 is reflexively accused of minimizing the gravity of the Capitol riot and, worse, of harboring sympathy for the plotters and their insurrectionary cause. Questions or doubts about the proportionality or legality of government actions in the name of 1/6 are depicted as insincere, proof that those voicing such doubts are acting not in defense of constitutional or legal principles but out of clandestine camaraderie with the right-wing domestic terrorists and their evil cause.”
So there are at least three intertwined objectives behind this audacious false narrative. One is to paint conservatives and Republicans as threats to democracy…as a Democratic administration and Congress are attempting unprecedented attacks on free speech, political dissent, the Supreme Court, Equal Protection, and voting integrity, all while being supported by a state-enabling news media. These are the classic symptoms of rising totalitarianism. The constant evoking of the January 6 riot is both misdirection and partisan propaganda. A second is to further weaponize the demonization of Donald Trump, thus permitting the kind of cognitive dissonance scale games being played by Terry McAuliffe in Virginia. Trump tried to overthrow the government and destroy democracy, thus any candidate he endorses is similarly inclined.
The third objective is what Greenwald concentrates on: a government constriction of civil rights. He writes,
“We are thus confronted with the surreal dynamic that policies long castigated in American liberalism — whether used generally in the criminal justice system or specifically in the name of avenging 9/11 and defeating Islamic extremism — are now off-limits from scrutiny or critique when employed in the name of avenging 1/6 and crushing the dangerous domestic ideology that fostered it.
“Almost immediately after the Capitol riot, some of the most influential Democratic lawmakers — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who also now chairs the Select 1/6 Committee — demanded that any participants in the protest be placed on the no-fly list, long regarded as one of the most extreme civil liberties assaults from the first War on Terror. And at least some of the 1/6 protesters have been placed on that list: American citizens, convicted of no crime, prohibited from boarding commercial airplanes based on a vague and unproven assessment, from unseen and unaccountable security state bureaucrats, that they are too dangerous to fly. I reported extensively on the horrors and abuses of the no-fly list as part of the first War on Terror and do not recall a single liberal speaking in defense of that tactic. Yet now that this same brute instrument is being used against Trump supporters, there has not, to my knowledge, been a single prominent liberal raising objections to the resurrection of the no-fly list for American citizens who have been convicted of no crime.
“With more than 600 people now charged in connection with the events of 1/6, not one person has been charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government, incite insurrection, conspiracy to commit murder or kidnapping of public officials, or any of the other fantastical claims that rained down on them from media narratives. No one has been charged with treason or sedition. Perhaps that is because, as Reuters reported in August, “the FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result.” Yet these defendants are being treated as if they were guilty of these grave crimes of which nobody has been formally accused, with the exact type of prosecutorial and judicial overreach that criminal defense lawyers and justice reform advocates have long railed against.
“Dozens of the 1/6 defendants have been denied bail, thus being imprisoned for months without having been found guilty of anything. …[J]ust as was true in the aftermath of 9/11, people are petrified to express any dissent or even question what is being done to the alleged domestic terrorists for fear of standing accused of sympathizing with them and their ideology, an accusation that can be career-ending for many.
“Civil liberties abuses of this type are common when the U.S. security state scares enough people into believing that the threat they face is so acute that normal constitutional safeguards must be disregarded. What is most definitely not common, and is arguably the greatest 1/6-related civil liberties abuse of them all, is the House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.
“To say that the investigative acts of the 1/6 Committee are radical is a wild understatement. Along with serving subpoenas on four former Trump officials, they have also served subpoenas on eleven private citizens: people selected for interrogation precisely because they exercised their Constitutional right of free assembly by applying for and receiving a permit to hold a protest on January 6 opposing certification of the 2020 election….
“There is ample reason to doubt the constitutionality of this committee’s existence. When crimes are committed in the United States, there are two branches of government — and only two — vested by the Constitution with the power to investigate criminal suspects and adjudicate guilt: the executive branch (through the FBI and DOJ) and the judiciary. Congress has no role to play in any of that, and for good and important reasons. The Constitution places limits on what the executive branch and judiciary can do when investigating suspects and declaring citizens guilty, safeguards designed to protect fundamental rights of American citizens. No searches can be executed by the FBI without judicial approval in the form of warrants; nobody can be publicly declared guilty without a wide range of rights being guaranteed (the right of cross-examination, a jury trial of one’s peers, ample due process protections, etc.); private data about citizens cannot be collected without their consent absent an array of protective procedures.
“…In what conceivable way will finding out which protesters did what in the days leading up to 1/6 help Congress amend existing laws? Their motive could not be clearer: to parade around those they consider to be bad and deplorable people, to bestow on their sadistic liberal flock the enjoyment of watching their political enemies suffer public stigma, vilification and shame, and attempt to prove what the DOJ has thus far refused even to allege: that January 6th was driven not by common crimes and misdemeanors nor a protest that organically erupted into a riot, but instead, a historically momentous, seditious, insurrectionary plot…”
Read it all: this has been only a small sample of Greenwald’s thorough and obviously very troubling analysis. Americans who care about individual rights and who oppose tightening government controls on dissent need to be prepared to fight—and in the sense that President Trump used the term on January 6th, not (necessrily) actual violence. But apathy and fear cannot be the response. That is what the true enemies of democracy are counting on—that, and ignorance.
46 thoughts on ““Insurrection” Hysteria Appears To Be The Democrats’ Sole Strategy For Holding Power, And The Media Is Enabling It. Of Course, This is Unethical….And Ominous [Corrected]”
The “Insurrection” was in 2021, just 9 months ago.
I know. It’s been a long year.
Just a careless typo, and it’s fixed. I typed the wrong year, then went back and counted the months from the wrong number I typed. At least I counted correctly…
But hey, at least we can go to the movies to distract from… oh.
(To be fair, I don’t know if the parallels in the film are that obvious or if the author is just projecting)
Why January 6th, and not the riots in Kenosha.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and if you are obsessed with exaggerating that riot, every movie with a riot or a mob entering a building reminds you of it.
“This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.”
-Fred Dalton Thompson as ‘Admiral Painter’ in “The Hunt for Red October”
Fred’s best and most famous quote in all of his movie roles.
Excellent article. Thank you.
#64 strikes again. “It isn’t what it is.”
Did you just say the Capitol riots arent “news” or “history”?
Also, the captiol riots happened like 9 months ago.
It isn’tt news because it happened 9 months ago.
It isn’t history that has to be re-told because they happened 9 months ago. Giant front page history features appear on the Times when there’s a historical date to commemorate: Pearl Harbor, 9-11, V-E Day, JFK’s assassination. Thse riot was neither momentous nor having an anniversary.
By the way, the non-obnoxious way of calling attention to my stupid mistake (2020 not 2021) is to write: “you had the wrong date.”
It’s funny you lumped in the Capitol riots with those other significant dates in American history…a category the riots will undoubtedly be a part of.
I didn’t know there was an expiration date for when significant events we’re still weeding through can make the front page of the Times.
I’m also wondering if you have the expertise to comment on this subject when you obviously place so little importance on the riots, that you forgot they happen only 9 months ago.
Anyone who gives that riot-I refuse to call it an insurrection-the same historic significance as the attack on Pearl Harbor, V-E Day, the assassination of JFK, or 9/11 is either someone who doesn’t understand history very well, a Democrat shill, or a total idiot. You can choose which of these categories you want to belong to, but it makes very little difference.
Everything changed on 9/11. The assassination of JFK rocked this country to the core and put it on the path to Vietnam and the Great Society, which we’re still feeling the effects of almost six decades later. V-E Day marked a major defeat-though not the final defeat-for tyranny and the final defeat of one of the four or five most evil regimes ever to blight this world. Pearl Harbor marked the end of isolationism for the US and sealed the doom of Imperial Japan, although they didn’t know it at the time. We’re still feeling the continuing influence of these events, and we probably always will to some degree.
That’s the most significant (although not the only) way how you know someone or something is or was historically significant: its continuing influence. You can’t judge the continuing influence of anything nine months after the fact. So far, however, the riot does not appear to have had much in the way of continuing influence. One rioter was killed, that was it. The business of government was not even disrupted for a day. Nothing changed in the short term and nothing appears to have changed in the long term, at least not yet.
I also question the left and the Democratic Party’s attempt to paint this as something on the level of those major events while either completely ignoring the events of last summer or pronouncing them something very good because they will bring change. If anything was an insurrection, that was it, especially Seattle, where a whole area de facto seceded, and Portland. which is still a lawless city today. They are really in no position to say anything about it – they can’t be the party of free elections, since it’s clear they have played every game in the book to make it easier for themselves to win. They can’t be the party of law and order when they’ve painted targets on the back of every policeman and enabled petty crime in the cities.
The only thing the Democratic Party can run on now is fear, but fear of what? Fear of authoritarianism? Get real. When your guy is mindlessly writing orders undoing everything the last guy did without thinking any of it through, who’s authoritarian? Fear of insecurity? When you’ve created a security crisis at the border and just want to make it worse? Fear of the pandemic? When after almost a year you can’t get it under control and want to impose burdensome mandates? None of it makes sense, so you keep pointing to this. Forgive us when we ask, “Is that all you’ve got?”
BTW, Jack, Colin Powell just passed. Disgruntled former employee or defector from decadence?
Re Powell: just posted on it.
I look forward to reading it.
It would be instructive to rank all of the riots and violent political acts in US history by significance and impact. I’m pretty certain the Capitol riot wouldn’t make the top 100.
One major difference between the Capitol riot and the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse riot is that elected officials defended the latter.
I’ll give you three guesses which party all those officials were from, and the first two don’t count. This is why that party doesn’t get to spout off about the Capitol now.
Well, it depends on where you set your scope, but if I were writing a “list” book ranking them (those kind of books used to be popular), it MIGHT get an honorable mention, or be excluded from the list because it’s too recent, but it wouldn’t make the actual list between all the assassinations, riots, etc. The George Floyd riots might, though. If I had to dash off the top 10 riots/acts of political violence they’d be:
1. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln (huge historical consequences).
2. The assassination of JFK (the same, not quite as great).
3. The assassination of William McKinley (makes Teddy Roosevelt president)
4. Wounded Knee Massacre (breaks the Sioux once and for all)
5. New Orleans riot, 1866 (leads to Reconstruction
6. Manhattan riots 1871 (drives Boss Tweed from power).
7. 1967 riots nationwide, biggest in Detroit (a lot of US cities flip white to black almost overnight)
8. Tulsa riot, 1921 (mass destruction of successful blacks, covered up by the state)
9. The assassination of Garfield (Arthur becomes president, but not as historically significant as the other 3 assassinations).
10. Red summer 1919 (aggressive pushback against Bolshevism).
Good list. I’d get the 1968 Democratic National Convention riot in there, and also the Ferguson rioting. Shouldn’t “Bloody Kansas” count? I think we have to include the Stonewall riot.
Thank you. Probably all would make the final list of 100. I think Bleeding Kansas was more a campaign than a discrete event, though – have to think about whether that’s within the scope or not.
I was thinking about the list while walking Spuds. Assassinations! RFK, King, Hughie Long, Malcolm X….hell, John Lennon. All probably had more cultural impact than Garfield.
Huey Long? Yes, in retrospect. I think I might need to come up with a longer list and reassess.
That was arguably a GOOD assassination! He was as dangerous a demagogue/crook/autocrat as the Us has ever had, and like McCarthy at his peak, the President was terrified of him.
Arguably the U.S. dodged a bullet, if you’ll pardon the gallows humor pun, with his elimination.
Well Huey sure didn’t dodge any! He ended up with almost as many holes as Sonny Corleone!
Political violence: What about the Burr-Hamilton duel? Certainly it took both men out of any contention for the presidency.
And how significant was the Harper’s Ferry raid? Just another log on the fire of civil war or more?
Not violence per se, but I’ve always thought the surrender document at Appomattox was hugely significant for the country.
Yes, and yes. Both way ahead of Jan 6 on the list, especially Harper’s Ferry. I should have thought of that…I’ve been there so many times.
Haymarket Riot. And I think there was another labor riot in the 90s that I cannot place right now.
Ugh, and how could I have forgotten the Wilmington insurrection in 1898. That really was carried out by white supremacists to overthrow a democratically elected (but not Democratic) government. They even had bands of Red Shirts — think Brown Shirts in the 1930s — going around to intimidate blacks and Republicans. Part of the storied history of the Democratic party in North Carolina.
The Haymarket riot was huge, a major tipping point in many directions.
Hundreds of people storming the Capitol trying to prevent the certification of the election is historically as important as those other things.
Not surpised one bit you’re downplaying the significance though.
Oh what a surprise!
Steve-O doesn’t think hundreds of people storming the Capitol trying to prevent the certification of the election is historically as important as those other things.
Well the majority of the country disagrees with you.
Stuff and nonsense. As far as I know, no one has taken a poll asking for country whether it considers that event as significant as those others. Even if someone took such a poll, it would be suspect, because we do not yet have the distance of History with regard to this event. Most of us here are comparatively seasoned people who were adults when 9/11 happened, and who had a front row seat for everything that followed. I bet you dollars to donuts that Tom is yet another millennial, complete with man bun and scruffy facial hair, maybe wearing mom jeans, who is just a kid when 9/11 happened and was brought up on Obama as God.
Now, now, don’t stereotype.
I was tempted to try to figure out what “poll” he was blathering about, but since the public has been yanked left and right about the rioting and most of its opinion is based on misinformation and incomplete information as well as propaganda—How many still think Officer Sicknick was killed in the riot, as Biden said, falsely, repeatedly, repeating a media lie, for example?—, I decided that I had more pressing duties with my sock drawer.
But Tom, in his final throes of trolling, did give me a particularly dumb rationalization to add to the list: “Everybody thinks this!”
Stereotype? Dunno what you could POSSIBLY mean. 😀
And I did not “forget” when the riots took place, asshole. That’s your last cheap shot. The next one gets you banned.
Yeah, I’m sorry to pile on, but I’m going to echo what’s been said a couple of times:
The January riot was a riot. It was bad. It was ugly. The perpetrators should be charged and convicted. But if we’re ranking serious political issues, this doesn’t make the top 100.
I’m not convinced that the rioters actually believed that they could overthrow the government; Oh sure, there were LARPers that said as much in Email chains or text messages… But there were very few people in that crowd, and they couldn’t possibly have known how the rest of those crowds were going to behave. Most of the people there were just generally discontent, and all of them seemed to be surprised that they were able to get as far into the building as they were. They lacked the material, the lacked a plan, heck… they generally lacked the will, seeming more interested in taking selfies with Pelosi’s lectern than… What? Stealing the paper copies of the electoral college votes? As if there weren’t digital triplicates already in the vault?
So… This is historic? In what context? What, exactly, makes this as serious as 9-11 or Pearl Harbour? What’s the metric? What are we ostensibly caring about that puts the January riots at the forefront of American history? No, the January riots were bad, but they were a footnote. The Democrats will do their damndest to beat that poor horse until 2024, but we won’t be talking about them in 2028.
And no one is actually confused by this. People pretend they’re confused by this. You are pretending you’re confused by this.
“You are pretending you’re confused by this.”
That’s kind of you. But never forget: bias makes us stupid.
“There is perhaps no surer way of infecting ourselves with virulent hatred toward a person than by doing him a grave injustice.”
-Eric Hoffer, ‘The True Believer’
That reminds of the first words that you published on this matter.
“Tom”banned himself. Good. I was unusually tolerant of his borderline trolling, which consisted of constantly ignoring the main point of posts to engage in tangential nit-picking that didn’t affect the argument at all. This time, he had made the insulting statement that my careless mislabeling of the date of the Jan. 6 insurrection suggested that I lacked the mental acuity to analyze the issue. I don’t take insults like that from anyone, not just hear, and I especially don’t take them from mediocre intellects like Tom. I could have banned him for that smear outright; instead, I warned him, and he came back with more, and announced his departure. He contributed nothing substantive to the discussions here: I kept him around because I thought he might provide a fresh perspective. But knee-jerk Leftist trolls who don’t consider any point of view or argument but their team’s talking points are far from fresh, here or elsewhere.
The funny part was that Tom claimed he was going to hang out with self-banned legend Charles Green. Charles, who I have welcomed back here already, has much higher.standards than that…
No big loss. We really didn’t need another Chris. As you point out, if we want to hear the leftist party line, we can just tune in to daily Kos or one of those sites, and the hostile, condescending, obnoxious tone that leaves people like that sounding by nature rude gets really old, really fast.
Again, until he jumped the shark, Chris made substantive arguments that supported debate. Tom mostly trolled, focusing on tangential details and refusing to debate on substance. It’s unfair to Chris to equate him with Tom. I miss Chris. Tom just wasted my time and lowered the quality of discussion.
I don’t miss Chris, not one bit. The only lefty here who I do miss is Sparty, who had a lot more to offer and also related to the other posters on a human level (being a parent I think does that to people). Come to think of it, that strikes me as a bit odd about Chris. Usually as people get older, marry, and become parents they become more practical, more knowledgeable, and move correspondingly toward the center. I don’t doubt I’d probably be a lot less far right if I had kids. Chris has since married and apparently had a first child (??? He said that was impossible, but whatever), but he’s just moved farther left and become more bitter and hateful.
Steve-O-in-NJ wrote, “Chris has since married and apparently had a first child…”
According to the comment that Chris (self identified himself as Beetlejuice) posted back at the beginning of October, their first born is due in November.
One last thing that’s been eating at me every time I see that photo. I could almost respect Liz Cheney taking some of the stands she has that seemed to stand on principle. However, it appears that she has jettisoned whatever principles she might have had by throwing in her lot with Pelosi and Schiff and the rest of the radicals in the House.
I believe she is facing opposition in the primary next year. Good. I don’t know if that would be categorized as being too radical for her reliably Republican state or what, but certainly she is out of tune with the majority of her constituents.
She can try to explain herself over the next few months and we’ll see what happens. I don’t know how good a candidate is running against her, but I know that the primary will be portrayed as a referendum on Trump. I don’t know that that will be the case but that is how it’ll be spinned.
There’s no defending Cheney, nor her vote for an impeachment that was brought entirely without evidence. You’re exactly right.