It is being demanded that we view yesterday’s events in DC as if they occurred without precedent, in a vacuum, nothing of relevance preceding them. Right-wing Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, vandalized, fought with police, wreaked havoc, and there was no catalyst for any of it, no underlying reason, other than Donald Trump and his incitement. That is how we are meant to see it. But if we see it that way, whatever lessons we take from this week will be the wrong ones.
We do not need to widen our lens very much to see that the rioting and violence on Capitol Hill this week happened after many months of violent left-wing riots, all of which were defended, even romanticized, by prominent voices in the media and government. It is not “whataboutism” to point this out. It is not “whataboutism” to observe that this latest bit of chaos did not erupt in a void, mysteriously disconnected from all events that came before it. The simple fact is that left-wing mobs spent the entire summer and much of the fall reigning chaos upon our cities and leaving burned buildings, looted stores, and dead bodies in their wake. They did this in DC as well — multiple times, in fact, over the summer — and the aerial shots of the city after their “protests” looked like something out of Baghdad in 2003.
It is argued that the BLM riots were a different sort of thing because, for one, the rioters were not fueled by conspiracy theories but by valid concerns over police brutality. Also, as the argument goes, they were targeting private businesses and not government buildings. Of course, both of these arguments are wildly off base. I’m not convinced that any rioters — whether the ones this summer or those in the Capitol yesterday — are motivated by anything other than a savage desire to destroy purely for the thrill of it. That is why I oppose rioting in all its forms, because it’s illegal and destructive, and also because it is fundamentally nihilistic.
But to whatever extent the BLM and Antifa mobs were animated by outrage over police shootings, they were, in almost every case, very wrong about the facts surrounding those shootings. Indeed, they had been whipped into a frenzy by falsehoods and conspiracy theories just as outrageous as anything you may hear in the QAnon fever swamps. For example, the rioters in Kenosha claimed that Jacob Blake was murdered in cold blood while unarmed and attempting to break up a fight between two neighbors. In reality, he was armed, wanted on a felony warrant for sexual assault and other crimes, allegedly harassing a woman who had a restraining order against him, and in the process of assaulting the police and resisting arrest. This is the way it almost always goes. The BLM radicals take a real incident and fabricate an entire story around it, totally unconcerned with whether the story bears any resemblance to the truth or not. If you say that the rioters in DC were hopped up on falsehoods and conspiracy theories, you must say the same about BLM and Antifa.
What about their chosen targets? Again it is not true that they solely victimized private businesses. Rioters infiltrated and torched police stations in Minneapolis and Portland. A federal courthouse was under sustained and violent attack for weeks. Add in all of the police cars that were incinerated or demolished by the mob, and the claim that yesterday was unprecedented because it was an attack on government property reveals itself to be absurd. But, in any case, is it really worse to attack government property? It is surely reprehensible to swarm the Capitol and put our elected officials in danger, but is it better to loot and burn a CVS or Target and put the workers at those establishments in danger? Was it better when David Dorn was murdered for trying to defend his friend’s pawn shop from looters? Can we not agree that all of these acts are barbaric and untenable in a civilized society?
Apparently we cannot agree on that point, and that is exactly the problem. Though we are supposed to erase all of this from our memory now, the truth, again, is that the media and the Democrat Party spent much of the previous year offering full throated defenses of rioting, looting, and political terrorism. The very same people who are lamenting that the mob violence in DC was a dark and unprecedented moment in American history, were, not but a few weeks ago, openly defending and encouraging exactly that sort of violence.
Recall Chris Cuomo back in June laughing at the very idea that protests should be peaceful. And celebrities like Trevor Noah reclining thoughtfully in their mansions and pontificating about how sometimes protests must involve violence and arson. And BLM leaders, like the president of the Greater New York Black Lives Matter in an interview with Tomi Lahren, declaring that “rioting is the language of the unheard” and that it is “tool of white supremacy” to insist on peaceful protests. And of course Democratic leaders like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez insisting that to call for peace is to call for “injustice to continue.”
There is a consequence to these words. There is a consequence to the decision by powerful and influential people to put on their pom-poms and act as cheerleaders for violent, murderous mobs. The consequence is exactly the result we are witnessing, and which they desired. Political violence has been mainstreamed and rioting has been normalized. That was their endgame, and now that it is realized, they want to wash the blood from their hands and dust off their old “civility” talking points. Those of us who object to this charade, and call it for what it is, are accused of somehow excusing violence. But the excusing of violence is precisely what we are trying to call out and condemn.
I am not interested in justifying anything that happened in the Capitol on Wednesday. I am even less interested in allowing the cretins who set the stage for it by encouraging that sort of behavior for months to now pretend that they bear no blame. This is not merely about accountability. It is even more urgently a matter of facing reality, in its full context. Because if there is any chance of making a change, of pulling ourselves back from the brink, we have to start by understanding where we are and how we got here.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.