The attack on the United States Capitol has produced two interpretations of the protest. The visual evidence shows it was a violent attack on the building housing the US Congress. Some supporters of the president have called the protesters patriots. Others have branded them as domestic terrorists. It seems clear that the actions were inspired and encouraged by the president and his allies. Internet postings indicate that the protestors were encouraged to bring weapons to Washington and employ violence. So, what was the violence about, and what did the people involved want to achieve?
The following questions may better define the reality of the event.
- How should we characterize the attack? Was it an insurrection, sedition, and/or coup? Insurrection is the “act of revolting against civil authority or an established government.” The act is usually a violent one. Other words to describe insurrection are “revolt” or “uprising,” Sedition is the “incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority.” A coup, shorthand for “coup d’état,” is a “sudden decisive exercise of force in politics,” but particularly the “violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group.” These definitions suggest the event should be considered as sedition, not the sensational words “insurrection” or “coup” used by the media.
- Was this “demonstration” intended to be a peaceful protest? If it was, why bring guns, swords, Molotov cocktails, and bomb-making materials?
- What were the goals of the protestors? The number of Trump signs indicated that the people did not like the election results and wanted to keep Trump in the White House. The belief that the results justified the means is not obvious because the results are so muddled.
- If the goal was to occupy the buildings, why did the protesters seek out the offices of specific Congressmen and women?
- Why did the protesters carry zip lock fasteners to restrain people?
- How is beating someone with a flag pole and the American flag patriotic?
- Why did the protesters steal government property? What do these thefts have to do with occupying the Capitol to protest the results of the election?
- Among the groups participating in the attack were people carrying Nazi flags, Confederate flags, and wearing shirts with anti-Semitic phrases. None of these symbols can be linked to protesting the outcome of the 2020 election.
- Are the protesters protected by the First Amendment? The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” I have underlined peaceably which was not the case in this attack. The rioters have no protection under the First Amendment.
- How do we separate the vandals from the people who remained outside the building? Thanks to the pictures posted on the internet, we have images of the culprits. People have contacted law enforcement with information identifying those pictured. The perpetrators are being identified.
- Two definitions: A Patriot is “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.” A Domestic Terrorist is “a person who commits terrorist acts in their own country against their fellow citizens.” The FBI defines domestic terrorism as acts “perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with primarily U.S.-based movements that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.” The USA Patriot Act from 2001 defines domestic terrorism as a dangerous act occurring within U.S. territory that violates criminal laws in ways that are “intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.” The attack has also been described as a “failed coup” or “failed insurrection.”
After reviewing these comments and questions, it is obvious these rioters were DOMESTIC TERRORISTS not patriots.
These have been very difficult times for our country aided by a mountain of lies and accusations, spread by the right-wing media, and enabled by Republican lawmakers who wanted to attract Trump supporters. Will we survive? Yes. If we can endure a Civil War, we can certainly triumph over the current discord.
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