It’s what the Times of India is calling the Coup Klux Klan. Violent white supremacists, some intent on kidnapping or physically harming members of Congress, took over the Capitol building in Washington DC while lawmakers shivered in the gallery in terror. Protesters carried dozens of flex cuffs—handcuffs made of zip ties — intent on arresting members of Congress and holding them hostage. Protesters were even heard to speak of hanging some of them. Many in the DC Police and the National Guard virtually stepped aside and let them in.
Try, for a moment, to imagine if the protesters had been black. There would have been a lot more police, national guardsmen and deaths. As it was, to borrow a phrase, nobody had ever seen anything like it.
This was nothing less than an attempted coup d’etat by Donald Trump and the MAGA hat wearing white supremacist cretins known as his base. This is why Donald Trump must go to prison for the rest of his life. At least, that’s what I think. And I present that case to you in the form of a victim impact statement.
I hasten to add, I don’t mean to claim any special victim significance for myself. I am simply an average American claiming my share of the evil that Donald Trump has visited on every average American. To be sure, some Americans have had a greater share of Donald Trump’s evil than others. They deserve their day of justice even more than I. I’ve taken it upon myself to speak for some of them because some of them cannot speak at all. Because some of them are dead.
But I am outraged by what Donald Trump has done to the land of my birth, how he has dragged its reputation through the mud of racism and cheapened its message of freedom, how hundreds of thousands of Americans have died because of him. For example, by the time he leaves office, more than 400,000 Americans will lie dead of coronavirus thanks to Donald Trump. They are dead because Donald Trump refused to take any serious steps against the global pandemic.
But as if that were not enough, on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, five people died and the sanctity of the nation’s Capitol building was violated thanks to Trump. The violence was incited by Donald Trump himself at a rally in Washington DC. Those deaths resulted from the first riot ever inspired by the president of the United States. Not only could Trump have prevented those deaths, they actually happened directly because of Trump. All of the deaths were Americans. Three supposedly died from preexisting medical conditions probably exacerbated by the riots. One was shot. One was beaten to death by a fire extinguisher. That last one was a police officer named Brian Sicknick. So now, along with his many crimes including rape and murder, theft and money laundering, fraud and treason, Donald Trump is now a cop killer.
Trump refuses to so much as acknowledge officer Brian Sicknick’s death because he is a coward. Because Trump is a coward he won’t even lower the flag on the White House roof to half staff to honour this man. Flags are lowered all over Washington, except at the White House.
Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, Representative Mo Brooks, Donald Trump Jr., and Trump himself urged the crowd that had gathered in Washington DC to protest the certification of the 2020 election, to go to the Capitol and fight to stop it. Trump warned the crowd that Vice President Mike Pence was not doing what he needed to, even though Pence was powerless to stop the ceremonial certification of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. Pence’s failure to do the impossible garnered him numerous death threats and a disavowal by Donald Trump. Trump even promised to lead the angry mob to the Capitol himself.
What happened on Wednesday happened because this defeated president, this little man, this vindictive, petty, sore loser, gave a speech to an already agitated and provoked group of his supporters where he harangued them for an hour and lied to them shamelessly. Trump told them that the election was stolen from him. He then denounced his own administration’s members and party as traitors. Then he told his supporters to storm the nation’s Capitol where the voting was being held.
And so they did as their leader ordered. They stormed the nation’s Capitol where the voting was being held. Many of Trump’s supporters were carrying Confederate flags, and for the first time in American history the flag of nineteenth century slave-holding states, carried aloft by an angry mob, entered the Capitol building of the United States of America. Not even a man as talented as Confederate general Robert E. Lee could raise the racist flag of the Confederacy over the city of Washington with a hundred thousand men at his back. Many in the mob that assaulted the Capitol were dressed in military attire. And law enforcement officers controlled by the president let them in, because many in law enforcement are also White supremacists. Abraham Lincoln was right when he said, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”
After they were finally ejected, Trump made a public statement to his supporters who attacked the Capitol, telling them that he loved them. Trump whined to them again that the election had been stolen. While he tepidly told them to stop the violence, he also emphasized that he understood their reason for it. That speech was so blatantly provocative and so clearly full of hints and dog whistles recommending more violence that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube actually took it down.
The backlash against the speech by colleagues in Congress and elsewhere from both parties became so bellicose that Trump released a second speech, a wooden and passionless and clearly insincere appeal for the rioters to stand down.
In the second speech Trump said that a new administration would be inaugurated on January 20th. But he didn’t say whose. Never once in the course of his speech did he mention the President-elect’s name. He called for a “smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” but he carefully avoided characterizing the transition as peaceful. This was no accident. Trump wants violence. And more violence is probably coming.
The badly planned and poorly executed attack on the Capitol building was reminiscent of Hitler’s so-called Beer Hall Putsch. As poor a thing as it was, it nearly succeeded. It was almost a coup d’etat, and it was the second time America had been attacked by terrorists on its own soil in this century. But this time America had been attacked, not by foreign terrorists, but by white supremacist Americans — led by their own white supremacist president. This was no spontaneous attack, either. It was four years in the making.
The police defending the Capitol against Donald Trump’s violent henchmen were nothing like the police defending the Capitol during the peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Washington last year. On January 6th the police arrived in ordinary street uniforms. The BLM police, on the other hand, were kitted out in military body armour and state-of-the-art truncheons, tear gas, shields and automatic weapons. The BLM protest was largely peaceful. The riot on Wednesday was an ugly mob intent on damage and destruction. Even several active pipe bombs were found near the Capitol.
The principal reason for the differing police responses to the two events was that many people in the BLM protest were black, and those who weren’t black were there to support black people. The people at the January 6th riot were almost 100% white and most were wearing red hats with “Make America Great Again” emblazoned across the front.
This is why we must change. America as a nation must become a nation of believers in reality and not a nation of believers in reality television. If we put Donald Trump in prison for the rest of his life, it will send a message to future fascists that America won’t tolerate another Donald Trump. If we don’t stop this, if we don’t put Donald Trump and his enablers and co-conspirators in prison, this kind of thing will continue to happen over and over.
Donald Trump’s personal hateful reign of bigotry, science-denialism, lies and crimes is almost over at last. Even some Republicans have awakened to the idea of how inevitably destructive Trumpism has become, how the logical outcome of everything Trumpism believes is the destruction of America itself. Donald Trump’s sinister spell over some Republicans has finally been shaken. The peaceful transition of power was the most important political idea to emerge from the grand experiment called the United States of America, and Donald Trump very nearly destroyed it.
Instead we may have been given a second chance, with a new President and a new Congress, rededicated to the idea that all men and all women and all people of all backgrounds and identities truly are created equal. By setting a counterexample so loathsome and ugly, Donald Trump may have ironically inspired us all to actually make America great again. It is up to us now, to make it so. It is up to us to see that justice is done.
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