Guide to an Insurrection
By John Haly
Just when we thought 2020 was finished, 2021 got off to a foreboding start as Americans attacked their own capitol building in scenes reminiscent of some third world coup. Fortunately, it was completely unsuccessful. Trump has ignominiously left office with a whimper rather than any fanfare. Still, it is worth reviewing this coup/insurrection attempt by Trump and his allies, to understand both the depths of their treason and the legacy America has yet to deal with appropriately.
America has been deeply embedded in rebellion from its inception, commencing with British setting fire to the U.S. Capitol in 1814 during the British invasion of Washington. By 1861 to 1865, the American Civil War tore the country apart, demonstrating internal schisms have a deep-rooted history. The end of the American civil war gave rise to the KKK and a growing racist and fascist movement in America. By the time German Fascists emerged in the 1930s, America had established its own fascist movement as manifested by Charles Lindbergh’s “America First” isolationists rhetoric. American support by corporate fascists for the German’s authoritarian efforts in WW2 are well known. Enabling corporations such as IBM, Ford, GM and industrialists like Fred Koch (father of the Koch brothers) enabled a fascist regime. They experienced no real reprisals for supporting the German’s murderous regime. The USA continues to breed fascists and racists and strengthen its growth within its borders. For all the Americans’ rhetoric that protests “this is not who we are“, they might consider a review.
Insurrection or coup?
These “movements” breed the insurrectionists amongst their constituents. Trump’s leadership encouraged their “activism” within America. I use the description “Insurrectionists” as defined under U.S. law to mean “a violent uprising by a group or movement acting for the specific purpose of overthrowing the constituted government and seizing its powers.” However, the Capitol riot’s description as a “coup” by Fiona Hill of Politico is compelling. On Wednesday, 1 pm on the 6th of January 2021, America’s right-wing racist/fascist community descended upon Washington’s Federal Capitol building. They began climbing its walls and smashing into its doors and windows, beating – and in one case killing – Capitol police officers. All to gain access to modify the outcome of the Electoral count, due to be finalised inside what many other Americans, consider the epicentre of American democracy. The insurrectionists were driven by either/or Qanon conspiracy theories, white supremacist racism and a Trump glorifying conservative Christianity. Despite philosophical contradictions, one consistent belief shared by all who stormed the Capitol was a false idea that Trump somehow won the 2020 election. This, despite all the evidence in recounts, court cases and scrutiniser’s oversight evidence, that the opposite is true.
It has been described as a failed attempted coup, long-planned by the rioters and motivated by America’s white supremacist-in-chief, Donald Trump. A president who has now been impeached, yet again, and this time for “aiding and abetting” the insurrection. Accepted now even by his previously most fervent supporter amongst the Republicans, Mitch McConnell. What has become increasingly evident is that the most significant reason for its failure as a coup was the insurrectionist’s incompetence and imbecility.
Not, although for the lack of endeavoured planning. It wasn’t until the 12th of November a little over a week after the 2020 election that Trump tweeted his alignment to a debunked Qanon claims about voter fraud connected to Dominion Voting Systems that makes voting machines. Having descended into that “rabbit hole”, the claims became more absurd over time. Unfortunately, too many Donald Trump followers began to believe the lies and follow him down that “rabbit hole“. On the other hand, these rioters-to-be had been preparing and training, as revealed in intercepted Zello conversations.
Plans fermented over Social Media on sites such as Twitter and Facebook and later Gab and Parler. The consequences of which pushed Twitter and Facebook to crack down on QAnon and other conspiracy nonsense over the summer. Qanon followers frequently openly called for violence and an event known as “the storm“. Many expected January the 6th, was “the storm” although, given the way “after more than four hours, the mob was cleared” and subsequent protests fizzled away, it blew itself out as most storms do.
By the 22nd of December, the media (social and otherwise) raised the alarm about January the 6th. Arieh Kovler Twitter thread expressing anxiety about that date also speculated about the 2200 Capital police officers’ inability to defend the capital.
Instead of a cast of thousands, the Capital police felt they did not need a full complement nor any extra support from the FBI or Pentagon despite foreknowledge by US Security services. Barely 500 Capital police without riot gear were deployed to defend the building against a cast of thousands. This failure of command led to U.S. Capitol Police Chief’s resignation, Steven Sund, as he fed his woefully equipped police force to the “lions”. Oddly the Capitol Police arrested only 14 people in sharp distinction to the 400 people arrested protesting Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, or the 181 people arrested in 2017 objecting to the GOP’s elimination of aspects of Obamacare or the 575 people arrested in 2018 while protesting the president’s immigration policies or … well it is a long list. The anomalous treatment of protesters gives credence to the idea that amongst the Capitol police were sympathisers to the “cause“. This was also evidenced by some police taking selfies with the rioters and providing unrestricted entrance to the Capitol while staff and lawmakers were still inside.
Accusations of complicity with the rioters were not isolated to the Capitol Police. Investigations into Republican lawmakers giving Capitol tours to insurrectionists in the week before the riots are being opened. Many events before January 6th prepared the insurgents, as Sandi Bachom, Video Journalist reported. Alex Jones (of Infowars) held a rally inciting crowds in preparation for January 6th where Donald Trump was scheduled to address the crowds at the Ellipse near the Washington monument. By Wednesday the 6th at midday, President Donald Trump in a recorded address encouraged thousands of supporters to march on the US Capitol to protest the election results. Promising to “be there with you” as they proceeded with his march on the Capitol, Trump had other premeditated plans. Trump travelled back to the White House to continue to view what he had unleashed, after having spent time in a Tent equipped with monitors, where his family had drank and watched the coup develop in complete safety.
Meanwhile, on Capitol grounds, some insurrectionists organisers armed with megaphones attempted to coordinate an orchestrated event with a coordinated plan. Many others had not been so well briefed or had the pre-riot tours. The results, although, were chaotic. As some called for peaceful protests, other demanded and exhibited violence dragging police into the crowd and beating them. What was ironic was the numbers of law enforcement and military personnel amongst the rioters and racist support staff amongst the Capitol Police. Eventually, Mike Pence authorised the National Guard to end the riots, as Trump had no stake in ending the chaos.
While Electoral Certification proceedings were halted when the riot began, they resumed at 8 pm. Despite ridiculous objections raised during the proceedings and the mass of Republicans who voted against the count, Biden was confirmed to be the next president. Thereafter the innumerable videos posted by the insurrectionists became the evidentiary material for their subsequent arrests. The FBI’s capacity to track the insurgents was aided by collected Parler posts’ depositories (including deleted entries), as used by the insurrectionists.
Despite whatever planning was put into the coup, it would seem they did not take into their considerations some features of telecommunications infrastructure unique to the Capital building. The Capital has it’s own “cellular and wireless data infrastructure of its own to make communications efficient in a building made largely of stone, and that extends deep underground and has pockets of shielded areas.” Hence every insurrectionist that entered the building were tracked and triangulated by their phones, that innumerable rioters were using to photograph and record. The computers that constitute that telecommunications infrastructure logged everything from their phone number to their location in the building.
Emboldened by the day, right-wing agitators planned further protests in the following days at other capitals. However, the turnout to these was classified as non-events by observers, as National Guard, and law-enforcement agencies were assigned to protect many other State’s capitol grounds.
Despite never winning the popular vote in either election, the twice impeached Donald Trump’s ascension to the president’s office was always supported by racism, religion and xenophobia. On page 13 in his book “Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, it was demonstrated that racist Google searches had the highest statistical correlation with support for Trump in the Republican primaries. Trump’s support amongst the bigots for whom racism, xenophobia and misogyny are psychological norms, I discussed four years ago, so I need not rehash that again. Nor do I need to discuss Trump’s relationship to Fascism which has apparently being rediscovered. The American’s support for this social dysfunctionality has not diminished, it has been – for now – merely suppressed.
The insurrection fire supporting installing Trump as president for an indeterminable further term of office cooled, spluttered, but has not died. They are repressed, not repentant. The embers are still hot, and the passion for conspiracies, racism, xenophobia and authoritarian Christianity still smoulder amongst the 74.222 million Americans who voted for Trump. God help America if they ever find a competent fascist to vote for in 2024.
[Correction: An earlier version of this article misrepresented the timing the events of the tent monitoring of the insurrection by Trump and his family.]
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That was one helluva an outstanding read, John.
Good read, reflect this weird nexus between secular but radical right libertarians and the vote of a motley crew of white Christian nationalist conservatives and related; the latters’ anger is compounded or built upon by their demographic decline exemplified by the ‘black’ vote lifting Biden above Trump.
The last sentence is the sharp end of the scorpion, trump is not a leader but there are plenty of republic senators: “… went through the metal detector, set it off, ran into a cop, and then pushed his way past her.” Who have no respect for the law?? They will find a trumpist who grabs pussies and men by the balls tote for
WOW!!!!! Do NOT miss reading this concise, clearing articulated, logical article!!! Thank you John. From an Australian perspective we are seeing similar fascist attitudes in the Liarbral Nazional$ misgovernment with the disbanding of Parliament under the guise of COVID-19 restrictions, the (thankfully) fewer, calm Scummo press stops, the interference by Scummo in the highly successful state led COVID-19 control programmes and continuing persecution of whistle-blowers exposing corrupt and amoral government actions.
Perception is everything, hence the myth of the COALition being the best managers of the national Treasury must be maintained despite all the evidence of backward looking non-policies that will benefit foreign owned multinational corporations rather than build a 21st century future for Australian voters and their kids.
My comment here is not necessarily on point for this article but as a well known firebrand and rebel-rouser I will repeat it after it was removed from The Conversation as not meeting their allowable standards .
What they said was :
Your comment on ‘Vital Signs: Biden’s economic centrism isn’t exciting, but right for these divisive times’ has been removed.
What I said was :
China has reached out to the Biden administration calling for a reset to their relationship.
This would be a good time for Morrison to do the same but will he hear the vibe ?
All of a sudden I’m Che Guevara !!
Terence Mills, Wow waltz, Your comment is perfectly in tune with the efforts of the new president and for suggesting scummo to follow biden as he did trump.
i suppose it was too definitive for a mob who describe themselves thus:
The Conversation Australia and New Zealand is a unique collaboration between academics and journalists that in just 10 years has become the world’s leading publisher of research-based news and analysis.
Moderators are sometimes mysterious… I have made a few rational and non abusive comments about religion that were banned.
I am glad that AIMN was sensible about the foregoing non abusive comments.
The semi totalitarian tendencies here such as treatment of refugees and closing down Parliament early ( the latter which the judges in England refused to allow) shows how much we need a Bill of Rights as well as a Federal ICAC.
@terence mills & @wam: I have had the same hard experience with The Conversation (TC) in the past. I put my experience down to the probability that the editorial staff were private school alumni used to being spoon fed for state examinations rather than taught to think as occurs in most state schools.
At that time (2007 – 2013) when Australia had a competent Labor Federal government for Australian voters, it was de rigeur for Main Stream Media-ocrity, including The Conversation, to bad mouth Labor personalities and polices at every opportunity. Especially vitreous was the old crone sycophant, what’s-her-name. Yet any equally appalling comment against RAbbott & the COALition was banned as unsuitable. Well, they have nothing to offer so it is unfair to tell the truth about their lack of policies.
The Conversation is replete with well qualified persons who often have no real experience of the world at large.
Ipso facto they should be regarded with considerable caution.
Roswell, Thank you, it was a helluva write, that took a lot of time and research.
Andrew, the weird nexus between Conservative Christians, fascists/racists and Qanon followers being coalesced into a single unified insurrection, was driven by the awareness of their fall from grace. Once the majority-white power structure falls to that of a minority and increasingly discredited and irrelevant population by a society that wants to move on from outdated values, it would have been a blow to the egos of many conservative white Americans.
Wan, nice to know you read to the end of the article, and took note of the warning, that if America does not resolve its societal and political dysfunction, history will simply repeat with someone worse.
New England Cocky, Such expletives are appreciated so feel free to promote this article amongst your friends on Social media. I am afraid I can’t pay promotional fees as freelance journalism is not a lucrative profession. But yes, there are parallels in the Australian environment, and I will forthwith return across the ocean to write about the Australian condition as I have in the past herein.
The rest of you: While going a little off-topic, I find there is much in “The Conversation” worth reading and some of my embedded links in this article come from there. No publication will entirely get it right, and misconstruing commentary and deleting it will occur. I have not agreed with some authors who write for The Conversation, nor their comment vetting. Although, we need to be prepared for the fact that our views have opponents, and we should be ready both to defend as well as realise our opponents might have good points.