In the wake of the failed insurrection on Wednesday I’ve been trying to sort out what would drive a person to that level of delusion. It’s tempting to assume that all people are rational and that the reason Republicans or conservatives in any form exist is simply because they simply aren’t terribly well-read. But if that were the case, then Eton in the UK would have turned out an entirely different line of Prime Ministers. And while there does seem to be a close correlation between conservative positions and far-right terrorism or hate driven violence there are examples of supposedly leftist terrorists.
The primary reason Sanders will never be President is that a vocal plurality or majority of his supporters embraced violent hateful rhetoric and sometimes engaged in actual violence against liberal voters. The reason we see communist regimes falling into autocratic tendencies and imposing fascist policies despite having a supposedly leftist economic system is because they are trying to enforce stratification through hate and fear. I’m not exactly sure why conservative movements seem to be more susceptible to white supremacy and it’s correlates, but they are not alone in their vulnerability.
This is not at all to say that devoid of the white supremacy I would support conservatism. I don’t, because I don’t think conservatism actually works particularly for the things I care about like the environment, culture, promotion and advancement of science and art, and human wellbeing. But my concerns with conservatism should be restricted to these sort of academic or theoretical discussions of how best to get from point A to point B. Instead though, conservative movements worldwide have been hijacked by white supremacy.
Without getting further into the weeds, the issue has become one of white nationalism and which Party protects and promotes white rights, or more importantly protects white egos über alles. There are elements of white nationalism on the left as well and these tend to erupt — on both left and right — whenever a politician tries to use populism in order to accelerate their ascension.
I know this is going to sound unbearably nerdy but the problem is the devaluation of BIPOC speech and experience relative to the inflated value of white feelings.
So, in summation: “F**k your feelings.”
But okay that’s not really what I’m frustrated over at the moment. My frustration stems from Trump’s little insurrectionists thinking they could get away with this nonsense. It is truly shocking that white privilege has gotten so out of control that Trump’s supporters literally thought they could break through police lines, violently attack and in one case murder a police officer, loot and rampage through our Capitol with the intent not only of disrupting government, but also the kidnapping and murder of duly elected representatives and just leave whenever, hop on a plane and go back home. I am terribly amused at footage of these people ugly crying when they are told they’re not allowed on planes anymore.
Trump was kicked off of Twitter for inciting insurrection and he will likely be impeached (again), possibly be removed, and be criminally prosecuted on those same charges. So naturally following that his army of idiots decided that the responsible actions taken by a corporation to limit the reach of a client using their platform to foment violence and possibly the overthrow of the oldest constitutional democracy was a violation of his First Amendment Rights.
And then Parler, aka the platform on which they had spread vicious rumours and planned both the insurrection on January 6th and multiple other future attacks was shut down for basically the same reason. According to these domestic terrorists again … it’s a violation of their First Amendment Rights that they can’t plan to destroy the very constitutional government that entitles them to those rights AND get away with it.
First Amendment Rights are not a blank check. Yes. You may say virtually anything that pops into your pretty little head. But if you issue a threat you have to accept it will be taken seriously. If you insult someone you have to accept that they may not like you afterwards. And if you plan a conspiracy to overthrow the government and murder anyone and everyone who gets in your way in a fascist day of reckoning then no … First Amendment Rights are not going to save you. And also, as big as they are, neither Twitter nor Amazon nor Google are the government. They are companies. Them kicking you off their platform is entirely within their rights. It’s not a violation of your rights unless the government does it and OH MY GOD, YOU TRIED TO OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT, BRAD! (Well, no. Brad explicitly didn’t. But every time I yell a name in anger now it has to be “Brad.”)
All of this becomes especially ironic with the consideration that these very same domestic terrorists tried to shift blame for their own violent and seditious acts onto BLM and AntiFa.* BLM has never been violent. There were white people on the periphery some more or less for it and some clearly against who were committing acts of violence in BLM’s name, but BLM itself was at no point violent. And explicitly peaceful BLM protestors were violently attacked by police. This stands in absolutely stark contrast to how the white domestic terrorists who stormed the Capitol were treated. So shifting blame or trying to use the actions of particularly BLM to justify the insurgency is both really bad faith and also very stupid.
*I wrote an article excoriating AntiFa when it was being appropriated — ironically by fascists — so they could in turn appropriate BLM for their own political purposes. Fortunately, and unlike with the Occupy Movement it’s far harder to infiltrate something as a white man when the organizers are Black women and ultimately the effort fell apart and AntiFa went back to being ACTUALLY anti-fascist.
But cloaked in this white fragility and bad faith arguments about how it’s liberals who are trying to impose a police state, but also defund the police is bad and and it’s definitely liberals trodding all over the constitution, but let’s overthrow our constitutional democracy, is this racial resentment which absolutely permeates all aspects of the Republican Party particularly as it is associated with Trump. And the idea is not actually that white people are being denied their rights. It’s the excuse often proffered and the rallying sentiment being spoken. The idea is that increasingly, BIPOC’s rights and civil liberties are being granted.
Quite ironically, Trump surrogates and supporters, much like Trump himself are not terribly skilled at expressing themselves in actual words or speech. But their great fear is that if everyone is equal, they will no longer be special. And given that these people smeared their faeces throughout the Capitol, I have to say, said fears may be well founded. But I don’t think they actually believe their own rhetoric.
We’re not dealing with an issue of Freedom of Speech. We’re dealing with a legacy of racism which on Wednesday resulted in an attack on our democracy.