No one in the United States has been treated with more undeserved grace and reverence in the past four years than Donald Trump’s supporter. Their anger is always justified, their failure is not that of another, and their responsibility for their own actions is absent.
As horrific as the crimes and atrocities may be, the rest of us are guilty of not offering them enough empathy and compassion. And even when celebrating their conspiratorial paranoia and racial fascism, they have been pampered by tales depicting them as good, hardworking patriots of the salt of the earth.
But patriotism, to change the phrase, is the first refuge for white supremacist terrorists. And the portrayal of Trump supporters as a monolith of uneducated small-town rubles who, as the saying goes, has been tricked into “voting against their interests” is a classicist projection of those who imagine that racism only affects poor whites. We knew even before the 2016 presidential election that the median household income for Trump supporters surpassed that of the average American home. It should come as no surprise that in addition to expected participants such as the Proud Boys, Neo-Confederates, and militiamen, white-collar workers and government-sponsored gamers also took part in the Capitol uprising. Lawyers, a jet-setting real estate agent, tech CEO, and at least six Republican lawmakers identified in the days following the uprising besieged the Capitol alongside active military and veterans, as well as off-duty cops and firefighters, many of whom reportedly have their badges and ID cards flashed as they participated in the coup attempt.
These were very fine, almost exclusively white people who took over the Capitol on behalf of the President. The looting crowds were not all factory workers in small towns plagued by economic fears. The riot attracted people who could afford to fly to DC from their hometowns for the weekend. Once there, they participated in a few non-police hours of domestic terror and rioting before returning to their nearby hotels.
This violent manifestation of white backlash has threatened to consume the rest of us for years. The rioters’ actions contradicted the rhetoric of law and order propagated by Trump supporters throughout his tenure. Although they say “Blue Lives Matter!” When faced with the death of the blacks, they viciously attacked the Capitol Police and killed an officer. Despite denigrating black athletes for protesting systemic racism during the anthem, they entered the Capitol with Trump banners and the telltale Confederate flag. They have claimed that anti-racist protesters and “radical left” vilified this country but literally polluted the Capitol by smearing excrement in its sacred halls. They say they are defending democracy, but they are trying to overthrow an election in which black voters played a crucial role.
After four years of openly broadcast racist grievances and threats of violence, the Capitol Rebellion was the most defiant expression of white anger in modern American history. By occupying the seat of the national government, the rioters sent a message about the limitless rule of white, indifferent to the laws that white creates. The police response – sometimes absent and complicit in others – only helped get the news home.
And while it is true that Trump and his astute GOP proponents tirelessly promoted election disinformation and insurgent propaganda, the white terrorists who attacked an entire branch of government made the choice to believe those lies. How else can one explain that while all Americans have been exposed to these conspiracy theories, only Trump’s aggrieved white supporters have gone all in and used them to justify their efforts to overthrow democracy?
Therefore, those involved have to face consequences that we have not yet seen enough of. The right-wing, who entered the Michigan state house in an armed tantrum in April over the state’s coronavirus lockdown, had not been charged until October. Just seven months later, extremists attempted to take over the Oregon State Capitol at gunpoint. Only five people were arrested. Six of the conspirators in a Hijack scheme Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the televised executions of multiple lawmakers have been charged, but the case remains a terrifying indicator of the deadly threat posed by native white terrorists. Kyle Rittenhouse, the white 17-year-old who fatally shot and killed two Black Lives Matter protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August, has become such a celebrity that he is Crowdsourcing his $ 2 million bail. Despite the footage documenting the shootings, he pleaded not guilty to all charges at a hearing earlier this month.
There are many more examples of Trump supporters and other neo-fascists threatening society, but suffice it to say that normalizing right-wing violence requires that accountability for Capitol rioters be a national priority. The FBI’s efforts to locate and keep track of an ever-growing list of those involved are a decent start (though field arrests would have made more sense, but now arguably not looking back). Other actions we’ve seen – like maintaining public opprobrium, including losing jobs – are deserved. Otherwise, expect more reports of white terrorist violence from Trump supporters every time they fail. And much more bloodshed.
In fact, the FBI has already announced that further uprisings to overthrow the elections are in sight. After a internal bulletin The office obtained by ABC News received information about an identified armed group that was planning to travel to Washington DC on January 16. You have warned that if Congress tries to remove POTUS on the 25th Amendment, there will be a major riot. “Indeed, Trump’s shock troops are trying to hold the nation hostage to its political goals. Any argument against persecuting violent right-wing extremists for further inflaming extremists ignores the fact that they definitely intend to take up arms and seek revenge.
We are long past the point at which the right-wing violence that arises from white claims threatens to destroy us all. Accountability right now is only the first step in stopping a far more deadly takeover.