January 17, 2021 Abdul Haqq

Trump’s Insurrection, Erection & Attempted Resurrection: A Flaccid Presidency

Race Riots in Wilmington, North Carolina, 1898   (Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

If there was any lingering doubt about how structurally racist – and yes, backward – the US continues to be across various societal levels, one only need reflect on the recent events of Wednesday 6th January. The storming of Capitol Hill while Congress convened to certify president elect, Joe Biden’s win, will be remembered in the annals of history as the most brazen attempt to destabilise a US government in the country’s history. It must also go down as one of the most audacious acts of domestic terrorism on US soil. Only the 1995 Oklahoma bombing that resulted in the death of 168 people and wounding of 680 others supersedes it in audacity due to the deadliness of that particular attack.[1] Trump’s incendiary speech, which preceded the assault on the Capitol, has widely been interpreted as incitement, leading to his impeachment for a historic 2nd time[2] and suspension from various social media outlets.[3] Indeed, his supporters comprised of:

“…a disconcerting mix…of everyday Americans supporting their president and extremists prepared to commit violence for him. All had assembled in answer to Mr. Trump’s repeated appeals to attend a march to the Capitol the next day that he promised would be “wild.” It was.” [4]

Media outlets have been referring to the events of 6th January as an insurrection while others have labeled it a coup d’état. However, what is apparent is the reluctance by most to designate the attack as terrorist. Five people died as a direct result of this incident, one of them a being a police officer in the line of duty, while many more sustained injuries.[5] Yet, despite the magnitude of the attack, alongside these five fatalities, no unanimity could be found to declare it a terrorist incident, except by a few. Indeed, white America was not prepared to accuse a significant – and also white – Trump supporting minority of terrorism:

“Now let’s take a look at how the nation’s news media covered this disgraceful day, beginning with Thursday’s front pages. The New York Times says, in all caps, “TRUMP INCITES MOB.” The Washington Post’s banner headline says “Trump mob storms Capitol.” The Wall Street Journal says “MOB STORMS CAPITOL.”

— Peter Baker’s lead for The New York Times: “So this is how it ends.”

— Dan Balz’s lead for the Washington Post: “Jan. 6, 2021, will be remembered as one of the darkest days in the history of the United States.”

— Kevin Liptak’s lead for CNN: “Three years, 11 months and 17 days after President Trump warned from the West Front of the US Capitol that ‘American carnage stops right here,’ the very spot he stood was engulfed by his own protesters bringing carnage of their own.”

— America is in a “reality crisis,” Charlie Warzel wrote, “in which millions of Americans are actively courting conspiracies and violent, radical ideologies in order to make sense of a world they don’t trust.”” [6]

Black Lives Matter but All Lives Matter Even More…

Hearken back to the relatively recent Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that arose across the US, following the death of George Floyd, to witness the glaring differences in how law enforcement tackled that and the latest incident. The use of force and subsequent violence meted out on BLM protestors was in stark contrast to the affable treatment afforded Trump supporters on 6th January, some of whom even obtained selfies with law enforcement:

The US Capitol Police Force is under fire for the way it handled Wednesday’s insurrection at Capitol Hill, as officers were filmed taking selfies with rioters and appearing to help them move back barricades and open doors… In one video, an officer can be seen posing for selfies with members of the mob and interacting with them in a congenial manner. [7]

To claim that things have dramatically improved for Black populations over the years would be a gross misstatement. The continuing flagrant disregard for Black lives in the US is inarguable and has been woven into the fabric of American society since slavery. Regardless of the advancement and progress of African Americans, structural racism continues to plague Black communities across virtually every strata of society – including the areas they have been permitted to excel in (i.e. music, sport and, once in a lifetime tokenisms, like the presidency itself etc. so long as the sensibilities of benefactors are not offended, as in the case of Colin Kaepernick). Historic evidence of this particular assertion can be seen in the events that unfolded in Wilmington, North Carolina, on 10th November 1898:

“Thirty years after the Civil War African-Americans were making headway in Wilmington, North Carolina. By 1898, many participated in a multi-racial government. But this angered a group of white supremacists. It led to a riot and to the violent overthrow of duly elected officials forced to resign at gunpoint. For years, this was depicted as a race riot in which 60 black men died. The ugly truth is that it was a bloody coup.” [8]

Another account provides more detail:

“For all the violent moments in United States history, the mob’s gruesome attack was unique: It was the only coup d’état ever to take place on American soil.

What happened that day was nearly lost to history. For decades, the perpetrators were cast as heroes in American history textbooks. The black victims were wrongly described as instigators. It took nearly a century for the truth of what had really happened to begin to creep back into public awareness.” [9]

Fast forward to 6th January 2021 and witness Donald Trump as hero of a marauding mob of supporters converging on the Capitol. He is reciprocal of their adulation, declaring his love and acknowledgment of them as ‘special people’ with daughter, Ivanka, proclaiming them to be ‘patriots’.[10] [11] We should be under no illusion that among the reasons for Trump’s ascendancy as president was White America’s revulsion that the highest office in the land was held by a Black incumbent for two terms:

‘…the political ascent of Donald Trump is largely about Caucasian fears of browning America…As a result, this election is no longer about all Americans. It is about white Americans.’ [12]

Had Black Americans behaved remotely similar to their White counterparts on 6th January, the following scenarios are likely to have unfolded:

  1. Mass casualties would have ensued following security led violence against Black protestors
  2. Protestors would invariably have been designated as terrorists
  3. Mass incarceration targeting African Americans, already disproportionately represented in US prisons, would have followed
  4. Increased racially inspired attacks targeting African Americans and public lynchings are likely to have arisen.

These are only a few scenarios among the plethora of abuse Black communities would have been subjected to.

Chickens Coming Home to Roost: Egg on the American Face

Developing Countries witnessed in shock, the reality – and hypocrisy – of US democracy; the same societal construct it has foisted upon others across the world, policing them with economic inducements or force.[13] The Capitol Hill terrorist attack/insurrection/ coup d’état – however one chooses to describe it – is another embarrassing milestone in US history, and the society’s moral high ground has been further eroded as a result, rendering it more of an undesirable ‘shithole country’ than those Trump previously maligned.[14] Unfortunately, such observations remain beyond the intellectual capacity and scope of many of his ardent supporters whose blinkered perceptions that America was ever ‘great’ continue to galvanise them towards realisation of this racially (white) constructed myth. A viral video showing a brief encounter with a somewhat distressed rioter who participated in the attack on the Capitol before being maced by police, provides a poignant image of the herd mentality that follows Trump.  ‘Elizabeth from Knoxville’ as she introduced herself responded emphatically when questioned about her reasons for storming the Capitol. A brief transcript of the conversation is reproduced here for clarity:

Interviewer: “What happened to you?”

A distressed Elizabeth from Knoxville (not Karen): “I got maced!”

Interviewer:You got maced? And what happened – you were trying to go inside?”

Elizabeth: “Yeah! And I made it about a foot inside and they pushed me out and they maced me!”

Interviewer: What’s your name? Where are you from?

Elizabeth: “My name is Elizabeth, I’m from Knoxville, Tennessee.”

Interviewer: “And why did you want to go in?”

Elizabeth – indignantly: We’re storming the Capitol! It’s a revolution!”

As Elizabeth was escorted away and the brief encounter concluded, the interviewer thanked her.[15] This footage serves to highlight that even a diminutive but determined white American woman – Elizabeth from Knoxville Tennessee – was prepared to participate in the type of criminality witnessed on the said occasion. Despite her protestations, she was clearly unprepared for the revolution she surmised to be occurring under Trump’s waning leadership.

In any event, it has long been established that the revolution will not be televised and, under the current climate of censorship imposed on Trump and the extremist elements among his supporters, it won’t be taking place anytime soon on social media either. That will at least provide temporary respite for us all.

 

 

 

[1] Wikipedia: ‘Timothy McVeigh’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_McVeigh

[2] Gambino, L: ‘Donald Trump impeached a second time over mob attack on US Capitol,’ The Guardian, 13th January 2021: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/13/trump-impeached-again-president-history-capitol-attack

[3] Zuckerman, E: ‘The real lesson of Trump’s social media silencing,’ CNN, 12th January 2021: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/12/opinions/twitter-trump-silenced-zuckerman/index.html

[4] Barry, D; McIntire & Rosenberg, M: ‘’Our President Wants Us Here’: The Mob That Stormed the Capitol,’ New York Times, 9th January 2021: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/09/us/capitol-rioters.html

[5] Leveson, E, Vera, A & Kallingal, M: ‘ What we know about the 5 deaths in the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol,’ CNN, 8th January 2021: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/07/us/capitol-mob-deaths/index.html

[6] Stelter, B: ‘How the news media covered domestic terrorism on Capitol Hill,’ CNN, 7th January 2021: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/07/media/domestic-terrorism-capitol-hill-reliable-sources-january-6/index.html

[7] Gerstein, J: ‘Officers calmly posed for selfies and appeared to open gates for protestors during the madness of the Capitol building insurrection,’ Business Insider, 8th January 2021: https://www.businessinsider.com/capitol-building-officers-posed-for-selfies-helped-protesters-2021-1

[8] Zucchino, D: ‘Charlotte Talks: ‘Wilmington’s Lie’ Reveals 1898 ‘Race Riot’ Was White Supremacist Coup,’ WFAE 90.7, 20th February 2020: https://www.wfae.org/show/charlotte-talks-with-mike-collins/2020-02-20/charlotte-talks-wilmingtons-lie-reveals-1898-race-riot-was-white-supremacist-coup

[9] LaFrance, A & Newkirk, V R: ‘The Lost History of an American Coup D’état,’ The Atlantic, 12th August 2017:  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/wilmington-massacre/536457/?utm_source=atl&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share

[10] Bunscombe, A: ‘‘We love you, you’re all very special’: Trump tells mob to ‘go home’ but repeats false claims about election,’ Independent, 6th January 2021: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-election-2020/trump-twitter-video-today-mob-address-b1783518.html

[11] Doherty, B: ‘Ivanka Trump criticised for calling Trump mob ‘patriots’’, The Guardian, 7th January 2021: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/07/ivanka-trump-criticised-for-calling-pro-trump-mob-patriots

[12] Bailey, I.J: How Trump Exposed America’s White Identity Crisis’, Politico Magazine, 22nd August 2016: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/trump-race-white-america-identity-crisis-214178

[13] PBS Newshour: ‘America’s History of Intervention in Foreign Nations,’ PBS, 31st July 2002: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/americas-history-of-intervention-in-foreign-nations

[14] Watkins, E & Phillip, A: ‘ Trump decries immigrants from ‘shithole countries’ coming to US’, CNN, 12th January 2018: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/11/politics/immigrants-shithole-countries-trump/index.html

[15] YouTube: ‘Trump Rioter “Elizabeth” Cries After Being Maced By Police After Storming the Capitol’ YouTube, 6th January 2021: https://youtu.be/WTLXtE8ihcY

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