She looked dead as soon as she hit the ground. Eyes open, blood on her face. She fell onto her back where a flag had been draped over her shoulders that bore Donald Trump’s name.
The death of a woman killed at the U.S. Capitol yesterday as insurrectionists forced their way into the building is no less tragic than that of any American or any human who died fighting for what they believed in. Instead it’s more tragic, because what she believed in was so obviously incorrect. She died for a false cause.
Trump lost a free and fair election, the kind of thing that many countries around the world do not enjoy. In some of those places, oppressed people take over government buildings and commit other acts of insurrection to assert their rights. That’s what happened in the United States yesterday, except no one’s rights had been infringed upon by the November election of Joe Biden to become president. It was free and fair, but Trump has convinced his supporters — and they have convinced themselves — that it was not. These past two months of Trump’s fire-stoking, compounded by the flamethrower that has been his apocalyptic presidency, came to fruition Wednesday as radicalized right-wing extremists stormed the Capitol. It was the first time the building has been breached since the British invaded it in 1812. But instead of the King’s Cross, it was the stars and bars that flew for the first time in the history of this country in the Capitol.
“We were normal, good, law-abiding people, and they did this to us,” one man said as British TV cameras rolled, announcing to the world that America is no longer the globe’s strongest and most stable democracy.
The insurrectionists had been preparing to breach the Capitol for weeks, Buzzfeed reported. A researcher tracking extremist chatter online noted that one of the first posts to come to their attention yesterday was a militia chat about being “ready for blood.” In person outside the Capitol, insurrectionists attacked reporters, proclaimed they were “at war” and that they were “coming for bodies.”
The question now is how hot this cold civil war will get. The insurrectionists likely don’t have the mental stamina to maintain days of protests in Washington D.C. or around the country, where they’ve gathered at a dozen statehouses, because they don’t actually know what oppression feels like.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be further actions in what feels like an escalating conflict.
“Wait til we come back with rifles,” one man said as night fell and police cleared the Capitol grounds. “I’ll see you from 600 yards.”
The radicals in D.C. yesterday truly believed they had a chance to overturn the results of the election — a false promise they greedily consumed from Trump and other Republicans’ constant lies. There was never a constitutional path to a second term for Trump, but the extremists went to D.C. anyway wrongly believing there was. When they realized there wasn’t, they took matters into their own hands.
That is why this is an insurrection and possibly even a coup attempt. Prevented by law from their goal of Trump as president, they stormed the Capitol to make it so by force.
“This is our country,” another man in the British newsreel said, as if he was taking it back from foreign invaders.
That’s what this is all about: taking something they believe was taken from them. Unfortunately they believe this because of the lies of elected officials, the algorithmically-altered social media bubble they live in, and the right-wing news outlets that feed the engine, speeding up the radicalization process in the past five years.
That radicalization engine isn’t going away anytime soon. Americans will continue to be radicalized and fed conspiracy theories — already extremist influencers on the right are pushing the tale that yesterday’s insurrection was an Antifa false flag operation — and become enraged to the point of taking matters into their own, well-armed, hands. The only question now is when and how they’ll carry out their next act of violence.
The photo on this post is from Mike Thieler of Polaris Images.