Monday, January 11, 2021

False Equivalence

      The currently-popular term is "whataboutism:" one person brings up the Capitol insurrection and are responded to with comments about BLM/Antifa rioting.

      There are parallels: each fits the general pattern of a violent follow-on to a generally peaceful but angry protest.  In Indianapolis, skillful maneuvering by city leaders and some protest organizers eventually managed to sort out rioters from protestors, but only after daytime protests had been followed by overnight riots a few times.  Other cities weren't so lucky -- and suffered much greater damage as a result.  The long, trailing aftermath in the Pacific Northwest appeared to become a lot less BLM and a lot more assorted anti-government, anti-capitalist protesters.

      There are also significant differences.  I've been searching but I have yet to find a single example from the BLM protests where a prominent political office-holder had arranged for or promoted the initial rally or protest and provided a slate of speakers -- and there appear to have been far fewer calls to direct action at the Summer/Fall protests than there were at last Wednesday's rally.

      The BLM protesters blocked highways and intimidated motorists.  The BLM/Antifa riots appear to have targeted police stations, downtown districts and a Federal courthouse, largely because they were there and big, visible symbols.  They set fires and worse.  In Portland, the conflict may have never really stopped.  Last week's insurrectionists attacked the U. S. Capitol building, specifically seeking Congresspeople, Senators and the Vice-President, with the expressed intention to interrupt and interfere with their Constitutionally-mandated counting of Electoral votes.

      Those elements -- time, place, target, goal -- are the difference between a riot and an attempted coup.  Neither one is right.  Both do more damage than effective messaging,  But when downtown Indianapolis was infested with violent, dumpster-fire-setting window-smashers, their intent was "sticking it to the Man," with a side of looting; when the U. S. Capitol building was infested with violent window-smashers, their intent was to change the outcome of a Presidential election -- an election that had been challenged, tested and audited, officially voted on by the Electoral College, certified by the Governors of all fifty states and submitted to Congress: it was a done deal, and no Constitutional mechanism exists to change that.  It was an attempted overthrow of our Federal government.

      And that's why it's a big deal.  This is more than body count, more than the physical damage done, more one bunch of punks being better organized than another.

      Washington, D.C. is a clown show on a good day.  Our democracy is a deeply imperfect system, run by deeply imperfect people, most of them no different, no better or worse than you and your neighbors.  It's also the best system we've got, the best system the world has yet seen.

      Our government of limited, defined and much-debated powers was devised precisely so that elections would not be apocalyptic power struggles; casting them as such demeans the process and reduces the citizenry to no more than a mob of thugs -- at which point, it doesn't matter if they're swaddled in red, white and blue, some flavor of cammo or head-to-toe black, and it particularly does not matter to their victims.

1 comment:

Bruce said...

While I hold a slightly different opinion re last week's protest, I agree that "Washington DC is a clown show on a good day".