The Smell of Sedition
"These people aren't going to take it anymore." - President Donald J Trump, January 6, 2020, The Ellipse, Washington DC.
It's amazing how you're watching events unfold and you know this is a "where were you when" moment in history. And you're busy absorbing everything your eyes and ears are feeding you. A tidbit here, a morsel there. An equivalence of what my Air Force T.O. used to say in Mess Hall - "swallow now, taste later." It's only after the smoke clears, the adrenaline wears offs, the heartbeat lowers to acceptable rates, that the head stops rotating on a swivel. Only then will you have time to go back to the bits and pieces. Only then can the mind fully digest and process the data.
This is my moment.
First, indulge me for a minute. I want to go back to the summer of 2020. The Black Lives Matter protests. Now before I open this can, let me first be clear on two things.
One - I'm referring to BLM the movement, not the organization.
Two - protestors protest.
I won't go into everything that transpired over the course of 2020 with regards to the BLM movement. That would require a few more cans to open. That's a post for another day. I will say, based on his tweets and rallies, Trump was either unable or unwilling to distinguish between the movement and the organization. Instead, at a time of racial injustice and a quest for equality, at a time when unity and calm were needed and called for, President Trump ratcheted up the divisiveness. As he went, so too did his followers. He vilified and denigrated the movement at every opportunity. His supporters and far-right extremist groups clashed with BLM frequently. When rioters joined in with the protestors, President Trump was willing to send the National Guard to various cities to quell the riots.
By the way, protestors protest, but rioters riot. They are not the same, even if they are within the same crowd. Keep this somewhere in your mind as we press on.
The Guard stood in Battle Dress Uniform and full tactical gear. Operational Readiness. Looking every bit prepared to repel the enemy. Black Lives Matter. Protesting for the right not to be unjustly killed by police.
So BLM protestors were put in the same vein as the rioters by both Trump and his supporters.
Let me also say again that BLM marched for the right for People of Color not to die unjustly by the hands (and guns) of the police.
So as a result of Trump's verbal assault on BLM, physical confrontations with his supporters soon followed. Having said that, let's put this pot on the back burner for a bit. Don't worry, we'll come back to it after it's simmered a while.
Fast forward to November 2020. Joe Biden had won both the Popular vote and the Electoral College vote. President Trump, who had stated as far back as August that the only way he could lose to Biden was if the election was rigged, started a criss-cross tour of the Nation's judicial system and state legislatures claiming he was robbed, that the election was stolen, that he actually won by a landslide.
"Does anybody believe that Joe had 80 million votes?" - President Donald J Trump, January 6, 2020, The Ellipse, Washington DC.
Nevermind that out of sixty or so cases, he only won one.
Nevermind his cybersecurity chief stated the election was secure. He was later fired.
Nevermind his Attorney General stated there was no evidence of widespread fraud enough to overturn the results. He later resigned.
Nevermind his lawyers were not able to go before a judge and present actual proof.
A lesson for peeps out there. You can say whatever you want on Twitter. Truth or lie. But when you stand before a judge, whatever comes out of that mouth of yours had better be the truth. Because there are consequences for lying to a judge. And any and every lawyer worth their salt knows that.
Still, definitive proof (or lack thereof) notwithstanding, Trump persisted and insisted he won by a lot. And he took his supporters along for the ride. Whatever he said must be the truth, right? Why would he lie? He represents us. We have shared values. America First. Faith, Flag, Freedom. Bibles, Guns, and saving unborn babies. God hates socialists and communists. Oh, and all Democrats are demons. We the People. Anyone who said differently had to be in on the steal. #StopTheSteal, right?
"We will stop the steal." - President Donald J Trump, January 6, 2020, The Ellipse, Washington DC.
President Trump's constant "we were robbed" rhetoric over and over convinced his followers that fraud was afoot. That the Democrats had stolen the election from their rightful President. Even weeks after the election, Trump refused to concede, further reinforcing his followers' convictions that they've been robbed of a voice in Democracy. And the silent majority wanted to be heard...even if they had to fight for it. #StopTheSteal and #TakeTheCountryBack became rallying cries on hashtags. All encouraged via Twitter by "the greatest President they ever had", Trump.
Now let's put that skillet on the backburner as well, but before we do, it's important to note that for the two months of Trump's non-stop complaining, no type of real censure was taken against him. Not by Twitter (aside from the occasional disclaimer) or his own Republican party. Perhaps out of fear of Trump's vaunted retaliation attack style. Perhaps they secretly felt the same as Trump? Who can say? Even when his supporters clashed with police, even when they committed acts of intimidation at federal and state buildings that bordered on (but didn't quite cross over to) sedition. Perhaps because he was the President? Perhaps not. Again, who can say? But we'll go ahead and put this skillet on the back of the stove with the BLM pot. We'll put them both on low heat, keep them warm.
Fast forward to January 6, 2021. The day the Electoral Votes were counted during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill, presided over by Vice President Mike Pence. A still defiant Donald J trump holds the last rally of his presidency. Numbered somewhere in the tens of thousands, his supporters gathered at The Ellipse, a park in Washington DC, to hear their "still my President" speak. And he did not disappoint. All the old trope faves were there.
"Us versus Them"
"The Press is the enemy of the people"
"They hate you because you love me"
"You built this nation"
Red meat was tossed to a ravenous crowd like feeding time at the zoo.
"After this, we're gonna walk down...and I will be there with you...we're gonna walk down to the Capital. And we're gonna cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women. We're probably not gonna be cheering so much some of them. Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong."- President Donald J Trump, January 6, 2020, The Ellipse, Washington DC.
You get thousands of already angry and frustrated people revved up and primed. All gathered in one place, sooner or later some of these "We the People" are going to need an outlet. A pressure release. A target. Cue Trump. Point, take aim, square up the shot, squeeze the trigger.
"We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated." - President Donald J Trump, January 6, 2020, The Ellipse, Washington DC.
Hundred marched to the steps of Capitol Hill to protest in the name of Trump. But they didn't stop there. I won't rehash the play-by-play of what you already know.
Hmm...okay, one more time for good measure, though. Protestors protest. Rioters riot. Looters loot.
Rioters, (not protesters...remember, there's a difference), stormed into and throughout Capitol Hill. They destroyed property and looted congressional offices. Deadly tragedy would mark this day. Five people died, including a policeman. At least sixty people injured. It should be noted that President Trump was not amongst the protestors.
Instead of stating what has already been stitched into the fabric of American history, I'll fast forward to the days following.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the 25th Amendment. This Amendment serves to remove a sitting President if it has been deemed he/she is no longer fit for office. It requires the approval of the Vice President, the majority of Cabinet members, the President pro tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House to be invoked. Barring this, Nancy Pelosi announced that President Trump must resign or face immediate impeachment.
Okay. That pot and skillet I have simmering on the back burner? Let's bring them back. Now as I'm mixing all this together, allow me to add a little seasoning. I'm an Independent voter with allegiance to neither the Republican nor Democrat party. I'm former military who took an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But deeper than that, I'm a middle-aged African-American. I have, sadly, experience the very thing that BLM was marching against. Unfair treatment at the hands of cops simply for being a Black man.
All of this was to set the proper table for the following questions.
The National Guard was "Johnny on the spot" when just the whiff of Black Lives Matter was in the Washington DC air. So where were they when the protestors and rioters occupied Capitol Hill?
Capitol Hill is supposed to one of the most fortified buildings in DC. It is, after all, one of the seats of power. So how were protestors and rioters able to breach without so much as a shot fired or taser released?
How were the protestors and rioters able to just roam the halls unimpeded and take selfies? Selfies.
Why was a man allowed to walk through those hallowed halls with a Confederate flag?
Throughout all of 2020 Trump's hateful rhetoric incited violence and anger towards BLM and anyone else he saw as his enemy ("LIBERATE MICHIGAN" resulted in the attempted kidnapping of the governor). So what made January 6, 2021 different?
It's okay when others' lives are on the line. But when they come knocking on your door, that's a different story. Black Lives Matter's lives may not matter, but when the mob comes looking for you, only then are you ready to cut the head off the snake. It would appear that was when the good ole Establishment said enough is enough. Not when Trump downplayed the Coronavirus. Not when uniformed men with no identification accosted citizens in various cities. Not when he had a peaceful demonstration gassed just so he could have a photo op with a Bible and a church. Not when the Russians allegedly placed bounties on American servicemen. Not when he was recorded asking Georgia to find 11780 votes so he could win.
No, "We the People" knocked on the door of the People's House. And the people inside caught a whiff of what we People of Color smell every day. That scent of "I'm about to lose my life to a white person". To quote Al Pacino in that movie, "Hoo-wah!"
And yet, had those Trump supporters been, say, BLM, would the police had just been standing around? Or would they be all over People of Color like stank on chitlings? And while some were later arrested, most would make it home in time for dinner that night.
So yeah, Trump is gone. His Twitter and other social media accounts as well. And yeah, it's for inciting violence. But let's be clear on an inconvenient truth, it's because the people on the receiving end were White. And People's House or no, that was just a little too close to home for their White Privilege.