My academic training is in the history of war and resistance movements, which has given me a lot of context with which to untangle this particular period of political, economic, technological and climate change.
Perhaps this understanding of what’s come before is why I’m so frustrated when folks can’t see the same things I do, the patterns that repeat. We keep thinking history happened to someone else, but history is where we came from; what happened before us is how we got to where we are. It’s the fuel expended to get us into space, as it were.
I kept wondering what the assault on the Capitol yesterday reminded me of, and realized it was the 1979 attack on the US embassy in Iran. The photos were very much the same. Note also the images of the Ayatollah. A cult of personality. And check out the guys taking pictures.
These Iranians had legitimate grievances with the United States. Let’s lay that out. The maddening thing, for me, is that the capital mob believes it has real grievances as well. They are a loose association of white supremacists, Dumblefuck cultists, conspiracy theorists, and just legitimately disgruntled Americans who were allowed into the Capitol by sympathizers and by the inaction of our own President, with the express purpose to push for the overturning of one of the most scrutinized and checked and double-checked elections in history.
That’s what an attempted coup is. All they needed was six folks with AR-15s and a plan, and they could have held hostages in the Capitol for weeks. Granted, all that would have done is led to President Pelosi, but no one was thinking that far ahead.
And we are very, very lucky they weren’t.
If there is not a reckoning for this: if the Capitol police are not rooted out for sympathizers and those who tried to overturn a legitimate election suffer no consequences, then this is going to happen again. And it’s going to be much, much worse next time. Next time they’ll know how easy it was. Next time they’ll have a plan that goes behind “Step One.”
Remember how frustrated everyone was with Obama and Hillary pushing for a “peaceful transfer of power”? I was frustrated, too. But I understood why they did it. They knew how divided the country is and that all it would take is a spark from the top to ignite a fucking riot.
Obama modeled a classy, peaceful transition of power, even though it was to one of the most grotesque folks to ever hold the office. Because he knew where contentious rhetoric would lead us.
It would lead us here.
America in particular likes to believe that it’s singular and special, that stuff like coups and authoritarianism can’t or won’t happen here. But we’ve danced with that throughout our history. The last time we came this close was during the Great Depression, when we nearly went over the edge, driven by much worse material circumstances than those we face today. It can and does and did happen.
If you’re wondering what an attempted coup looks like, that thing that happened on Wednesday was it. That’s the thing. That’s what it looks like.
I often find myself asking people what they would think of yesterday’s images and events, the cause and effect of a President and his cronies calling for “wild protests” and “trial by combat” to overturn the election and then… a bunch of people showing up and trying to do just that while the President refuses to send in the National Guard (Pence was the one who finally facilitated the deployment of the Guard. Not the President. Let that sink in).
That was an attempted coup. That was exactly it. Surprise! If often happens very quickly, that turn from “it’s just trolls on the internet and GOP theatrics” to “armed rioters busting into the Capitol and killing people.”
We came the closest in my lifetime, and probably my parents’, as well, to waking up to a very different America yesterday.
I want people to remember that, because we are very likely to see continued domestic terrorism at this level for years, and again: the next time we may not be so lucky.
Call your reps. Push for a reckoning. If no one is held accountable, if nothing changes, if we continue pretending it’s all talk and theatrics, we’re fucked.
Let’s not be fucked.
What we saw on Wednesday was America. Not all of America, but a very dark and vocal piece of it, and it’s getting stronger the longer it’s allowed to fester.