Two weeks ago, I wrote a story in which I said that the January 6th riot was not a coup. I have never received as many negative responses for anything I have written about politics or gun violence or anything else. I was accused, among other things, of not understanding the Constitution, of making ‘misguided’ comparisons between the January 6th riot and the demonstrations that took place outside of the Democratic Convention in 1968, of not knowing that Trump’s first coup attempt was no different from what Hitler tried to do at the beer hall in Munich, that I am ‘willfully ignorant’ and a few other choice comments about what I said but shouldn’t have said.
To paraphrase President Eisenhower, let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am not trying to find a way to promote or exonerate Donald Trump. He’s the worst President this country has had since I don’t know when. He’s a bombastic liar and scammer of the worst sort. But all of that being said, if we are going to engage in a discussion about politics and/or political events, we need to use words the way they should be used.
What happened on January 6th was this: Some 30,000 people showed up in D.C. for a rally which was organized by Trump and people who worked for the Trump campaign. Following a bunch of speeches which were no different from every other ‘stop the steal’ speeches that circulated throughout social media during the 2020 campaign, several thousand marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to hold a demonstration in front of the Capitol while the Vice President was counting and reporting the Electoral College vote that would officially make Joe Biden the 46th President of the United States.
Were these demonstrators armed? Yes, with various homemade weapons and some spray cans but no guns. Did they represent a military force of any kind that would have been capable of assaulting and overcoming a well-trained, capable military or police force of any kind? Not the slightest chance.
Except they didn’t come up against that kind of force. They came up against a bunch of cops whose basic job is to stand inside government buildings and show visitors how to get to the bathroom or take the elevator rather than the stairs.
How come the Capitol wasn’t defended by a detachment from the National Guard, even though the FBI had seen endless social media chatter about how people were coming to D.C. to demonstrate against the meeting of the Electoral College and the official reportage of the 2020 vote? If Bennie Thompson and his Congressional colleagues on the Select Committee don’t provide an answer to this question, they will have pissed away plenty of taxpayer money as well as their own time.
Remember how the cops inside the Senate chamber protected the public entrance with drawn guns? In case you don’t remember, the moment is pictured above.
Now if this event was such a coup, how come the gang which was attempting to overthrow the government didn’t start shooting through the door? Isn’t that what usually happens when there’s a coup? Isn’t the whole point of a coup to overthrow the government by using armed force?
Back in June, Joe put the whole thing in perspective when he said, “if you want to take on the U.S. Government, you’d better bring your F-15.” And he wasn’t talking about some little plastic model that I can buy in a hobby shop down the street, okay?
I don’t care where you look, but every coup that I ever knew anything about – Iran, Chile, Congo, Haiti - was planned and carried out by an insurgent group which not only had access to weapons of war, but usually had more guns than the forces representing the government they were trying to overthrow.
Again, I’m not trying to dimmish the seriousness of what happened on January 6th, and I can only hope that Trump’s personal role will be subject to a full and painstaking review. But at the same time, I get uncomfortable whenever the media uses language which inflames rather than explains.
How can we ever understand what’s going on in Ukraine which is 4,765 miles away from New York City when we can’t even trust how the news media describes an event which took place in Washington, D.C?