The events that occurred in the nation’s Capitol yesterday are more than just disturbing. They strike at the very heart of our system of government, one that purports to be based on the rule and law and the peaceful transition of power from one party to another. It seems that everybody in the media is convinced that President Trump instigated the violence and encouraged the mob by his comments to hundreds of thousands of supporters gathered on the National Mall to hear his speech.
Did Trump’s comments spontaneously instigate an angry mob and induce them to storm the Capitol to save his presidency?
If such is humanly possible any more, let’s look at this critically.
President Trump held many dozens of political rallies across the United States over the past five years. This includes campaign rallies leading up to the 2016 election, as well as during the 2018 mid-term election cycle, and of course those he conducted in pursuit of his second term as POTUS. My wife attended one on those rallies in Minneapolis in October 2019. In all those rallies, attended by millions of people, there were no acts of violence perpetrated by Trump supporters. None.
On the other hand, thousands of anti-Trump protesters showed up outside the venues of those rallies. They did their best to disrupt the proceedings and to prevent the peaceful passage of those wishing to attend a rally. My wife witnessed such events with her own eyes, and experienced the fear and intimidation caused by those throwing rocks and bottles, and by starting debris fires in the streets along the route to Target Center in Minneapolis, where Trump’s rally was held.
As to yesterday’s speech, at no point in Trump’s commentary did he encourage or cajole people in any way to attack the Capitol. His rhetoric was charged – without a doubt. He and his supporters are clearly emotional about what they believe is, if not outright fraud, at least the strong perception of impropriety with regard to the election processes in various states. The frustration is especially (and understandably) high given that there’s never been a decision on the merits of the claims in any of the court cases brought by the president’s team.
What we do not know is who the people were who led the charge to the Capitol following the president’s comments. What I saw on numerous video clips leads me to believe that there was nothing spontaneous about the attack. For example, a number of the attackers wore helmets, gloves and knee pads. They carried backpacks stuffed with gear of some kind, including at least ropes. They had tools of some sort they used to break windows and breach locked doors.
Does that sound like a crowd spontaneously inspired to riotous conduct after hearing a political speech? I don’t think so.
The media tell us this morning that the rioters stormed the Capitol to stop Congress from certifying the election. That is to say, they were apparently acting as Trump’s surrogate militia to stage a coup in hope of overturning the election. Again, if it’s humanly possible, let’s evaluate this view critically.
Certain Republican senators and representatives raised objections to the certification of electoral votes from specific states. Is the process of challenging electoral votes in Congress somehow a revolutionary act? Of course not. It’s part of the constitutional process intended to ensure the integrity of election results. Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore all did the same thing when George W. Bush won his second term as POTUS. Incidentally, there was no media outrage when Democrats followed this very same process to challenge an election. But the media has raged against President Trump for raising both legislative and judicial challenges, demanding that he simply concede the election for the sake of national unity and healing.
Should the president have conceded? Perhaps. But his raising of objections in the forums that he did constitutes the claim and exercise of one’s First Amendment right to petition the government for redress in its most pristine form. Only when all of one’s lawful appeals are exhausted does one then walk away – peacefully.
Ask yourself this question: What was stopped by the actions of the mob yesterday? Was the certification process stopped? By no means – nor should it have been through such acts.
What stopped were the objections of many Republican senators and representatives who theretofore pledged to challenge the certification process. Thus the violence was successful only in shutting the mouths of those with legitimate concerns over the integrity of our election.
Don’t you find it odd that President Trump might have had the intent to unleash a mob which would have the effect of stopping the process he’s been pushing since early November, and in which he’s invested all his hope for a second term as POTUS? Certainly he knew, as any reasonable person does, that an attack on the Capitol would not succeed and would only cast the attackers and their benefactors in the worse possible light.
Might it not make more sense that those wishing to undermine the integrity of the republic, those who have been burning, looting and destroying our cities since May 2020, would interfere with the constitutional electoral process through force and violence?
The cry went out yesterday that Trump should have done more to stop the violence as it developed. Perhaps. But what? Deploy law enforcement? Weren’t they already deployed?
It is simply undeniable that Antifa and Black Lives Matter are sworn to destroy the American Republic. This fact is established well beyond any reasonable doubt. These groups were at the heart of the violence that swept America’s cities last year, including protests in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., last June. Police there were pelted with water bottles and other projectiles.
When the administration took steps to disburse that crowd, the response from the media was quite different than the “why-didn’t-he-do-something” refrain we hear today. Law enforcement personnel disbursed the crowd in Lafayette Square with gas and pepper balls. The media were outraged, claiming that the president cleared the crowd, not to protect property or restore order, but rather, so he could walk to St. John’s Church, adjacent to the Square, for a so-called photo-op.
Regardless of what you think about President Trump and his performance as president, it is wholly irrational to believe that he, by his comments, intentionally inflamed a crowd of his supporters to storm the Capitol. This claim against Trump is simply another in the endless list of alleged wrongdoing by a president whose only offense seems to be that he loves his county.
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