"In praise of protest."
Thoughts on 6 January, last year and this.
18 JANUARY—The over-the-top theater staged on Capitol Hill earlier this month, the one-year mark for the 6 January protests against the official 2020 elections results, was read in various ways at the time. We were advised, here and there by prominent voices, that we ought to laugh (Glenn Greenwald) or dismiss the spectacle out of hand as “melodramatic anniversary-related nonsense” (Michael Tracey), “endless hyperventilating” (Matt Taibbi), and an “orgy of psychodrama” (Greenwald again).
O.K., but let us not spend too much time laughing or dismissing—and let’s not assume the preposterous display put on by our lawmakers as well as the president and vice-president was a one-time event so silly as to be offensive. As serious journalists and analysts such as those just named are the first to understand, the variety show put on not quite two weeks ago, kitschy as it was, bears close scrutiny and interpretation.
This charade is going to go on and on and on so long as corrupt Democrats find it opportune to keep it going for purely political reasons. The House select committee conducting its investigation (which it appears to have no constitutional right to do), continues to call witnesses—with the aim at this point of somehow determining what Donald Trump was thinking and feeling that day. Whatever he was thinking and feeling, I dearly hope it is not conjured into a crime. We’re all in trouble if that turns out the case.
Apparently under White House pressure to indict somebody, anybody, as of this week the Justice Department has indicted 11 protesters—on sedition charges no less. This also ought to concern all of us, given its implications for some kind of war on “domestic terrorism.” Sedition charges have the ring of the witch hunts of the 1920s and ’50s. If there is much more of this in months to come, we are all in for a miserable, not to say perilous, period of truncated rights and liability for who knows what offenses.
Let us sort this out. If the Jan. 6 protesters defaced the Capitol in the name of one thing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and all the other clowns rendering “commemorative” performances at the one-year mark defaced it in the name of something else.
Who, we need to consider, acted in the name of participatory democracy and who stands against it? What, we need to decide, is the place of protest in the land of the Boston Tea Party and the antiwar movement of just a few decades back? From whence does violence spring in our violent republic?