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We Mock the Rioters as Ignorant Buffoons at Our Peril

It wasn’t antifa. It was us. White, middle-class, evangelical Christian Americans.

We Mock the Rioters as Ignorant Buffoons at Our Peril

Jack Shafer, opining for Politico.

we’ve learned that many who rallied or rioted on January 6 were, in Trump’s memorable 2016 phrase, only “the best and most serious people.” Take, for example, Bradley Rukstales, a tech CEO in suburban Chicago who faces charges of illegally entering the Capitol “with the intent of and impeding government business” or others arrested on similar charges: retired Air Force officer Larry Rendall Brock Jr; Republican state legislator Derrick Evans (who live-streamed his storming of the Capitol Building); Aaron Mostofksy, the son of a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge; Olympic gold medalist Klete Keller; and former Midland, Texas, mayoral candidate Jenny Cudd, who said in one video, “We did break down Nancy Pelosi’s office door.” Cudd was arrested Wednesday for her role in the Capitol rumble.

Then there are the ranks of those who haven’t been charged: a Seattle doctor, who appeared in a video recounting her storming of the Capitol. A former Republican state representative, who resigned his adjunct professor position at a college after posting a video of the melee outside the Capitol, as KDKA reported. A California physician (and vaccine critic), who read a speech inside the Capitol, and her communications director. A Texas attorney, alleged by the Houston Chronicle _to have posted video from inside the Capitol, got sacked by his bosses for his “activism.” A housing entrepreneur, who was arrested for violating the curfew. An unnamed Pennsylvania teacher who was reportedly suspended for his role in the unrest, as the _Morning Call reported. A retired SEAL, who bragged about “breaching” the Capitol. A Chicago real estate agent, who posted selfies from the crowd outside the Capitol on Facebook and was fired, in turn, by her bosses. Then there was an active-duty U.S. Army officer who led a group to the rally, making herself the subject of an Army probe, according to CBS News. Police departments in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia and other jurisdictions have opened investigations into whether any of their officers participated in the rebellion, as have some fire departments. And finally, let’s not forget Ashli Babbitt, the Air Force vet and QAnon devotee who was shot dead as she tried to vault through a just-broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby just outside the House chamber.

It would, of course, amount to an overcorrection if we attempted to characterize the riot as a middle-class insurgency. But many of the protesters who filled Washington’s 17 Hilton hotels to capacity and made the Grand Hyatt’s lobby their after-action lounge did not come from Dogpatch. Many hail from the Republican professional and political classes, and they fueled the rampage with their organizational skills and reputations just as much as the face-paint guy did with his horns, fur, a U.S. flag mounted on a spear, and tattoos. Some of the criminal interlopers will argue that they only invaded the Capitol to exercise their First Amendment rights to petition the government for a redress of grievances. But that doesn’t fly. Nowhere does the First Amendment empower citizens to bull their way through a line of police—causing murderous injury to one—shatter windows and break doors, make violent threats and disrupt Congress. Nor does anybody have a right to stride into the Capitol behind the mob as long as they don’t break anything. The masses who coursed through the Capitol grand rooms and hallways clearly broke the law, and their overwhelming numbers abetted the rioters who spearheaded the attack.

Yes, there was plenty of class resentment at play at the Capitol and lots of overt racism, but we can’t assume that this was just a revolution by the powerless, the pathetic and the rural. The most shocking thing about the attack on the Capitol was that so many of the rioters were people who better resemble our kin and neighbors than they do the so-called barbarians from the boondocks.

The point here isn’t to sympathize with the rioters, or even seek to “understand” them, but to see them as they are and to prepare ourselves for future confrontations. How are we to deal with them as a country? I want to believe the intruders who now say they regret their actions of January 6. That’s exactly the sort of response you would hope to hear from an otherwise lawful American. But for every such apology we can be certain at least one person—and likely more—has been radicalized, maybe irreversibly, by the events. There are no easy ways to quell this national rebellion, a rebellion that appears to be gaining velocity, but the first step has got to be organizing a political taxonomy that doesn’t marginalize them as aliens. Instead of thinking of the rioters as “them,” try thinking of them as “us.” It’s bound to make you uncomfortable, but at least it’s a start.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Jesus and John Wayne Republicans

Republicans must unambiguously admit that Trump’s lies threaten more violence

Republicans can either be a party that participates in American democracy or they can be the party of Mr. Trump. They can’t be both.

Republicans must unambiguously admit that Trump’s lies threaten more violence

Greg Sargent, opining in the The Washington Post.

Alarming new details are emerging about the true nature of the violent insurrection that we witnessed last week — and the critical point about this insurrection is that it is ongoing.

This raises the stakes on what we’re seeing from many Republicans, who are working to obscure the true source of this ongoing threat. By piously calling for “unity,” and claiming impeachment will “divide” us, they are striving to manufacture the impression that the cause of our ongoing breakdown is some species of generalized division.

In fact, it’s a straight cause-and-effect: One side (Trump and his democracy-despising enablers who are still trying to illegitimately overturn the election’s outcome) is threatening and inciting violence against the other (those who stand for constitutional democracy and are affirming the legitimacy of that outcome).

This has now been crystallized by none other than a senior Republican congressional staffer. Politico reports that Jason Schmid has resigned from the House Foreign Affairs Committee with a blistering letter attacking his party’s efforts to overturn the election.

Schmid argued in his letter that Republicans had failed to sufficiently condemn the insurrection. I want to highlight this:

The sad, incontrovertible truth is that the people who laid siege to the Capitol were and continue to be domestic enemies of the Constitution of the United States. A poisonous lie that the election was illegitimate and should be overturned inspired so called “patriots” to share common cause with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists to attack the seat of American government.

GOP lawmakers who voted to overturn the election, Schmid charged, “harmed the ability of every service member, intelligence officer, and diplomat to defend the nation and advance American interests.”

What’s important here is the unflinching acknowledgment of two things: First, the claim by Trump and his enablers that he won is a deranged lie and anyone telling it is an enemy of U.S. constitutional democracy. Second, this lie is what incited the violent siege of the Capitol.

That is what many Republicans will not say, and it’s why this letter is important news.

… Trump is enforcing this line among Republicans. He told reporters on Tuesday that “I want no violence” and that Democrats pursuing impeachment are “causing tremendous anger.”

There’s that veiled threat again — Hold me accountable for inciting violence and you’ll meet more violence! — but it’s also a command to Republicans: Keep denying that I’m the chief instigator of the violence, and keep claiming the real threat of incitement comes from Democrats.

… Making this worse, as Simon Rosenberg points out, countless elected GOP officials are already on record having propped up these lies for months. The only way to reverse this is to flatly and unequivocally declare that those were lies and that Biden legitimately won:

I would add that Republicans must also say unequivocally that this lie caused last week’s violence, and that it threatens untold more to come.

Republican calls for “unity” are conditional: Unity can only be premised on a blanket agreement not to acknowledge the truth about who and what are actually to blame for violently tearing the country in half. Until Republicans tell the truth about all of this, their professed hopes for unity are empty nonsense, to be treated with derisive contempt.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Impeachment Republicans

For insurrectionists, a violent faith brewed from nationalism, conspiracies and Jesus

There is something tragically wrong with White American evangelical Christianity. How else do you explain a multitude of Christian symbols during the attack on our nation’s capitol and the democratic process?

For insurrectionists, a violent faith brewed from nationalism, conspiracies and Jesus

Jack Jenkins, writing for Religion News.

As throngs surged toward a barricade manned by a vastly outnumbered handful of police, a white flag appeared above the masses, flapping in the wind: It featured an ichthys — also known as a “Jesus fish” — painted with the colors of the American flag.

Above the symbol, the words: “Proud American Christian.”

It was one of several prominent examples of religious expression that occurred in and around the storming of the Capitol last week, which left five people dead — including a police officer. Before and even during the attack, insurrectionists appealed to faith as both a source of strength as well as justification for their assault on the seat of American democracy.

While not all participants were Christian, their rhetoric often reflected an aggressive, charismatic and hypermasculine form of Christian nationalism — a fusion of God and country that has lashed together disparate pieces of Donald Trump’s religious base.

“A mistake a lot of people have made over the past few years … is to suggest there is some fundamental conflict between evangelicalism and the kind of violence or threat of violence we’re seeing,” said Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a history professor at Calvin University and author of “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.”

“For decades now, evangelical devotional life, evangelical preaching and evangelical teaching has found a space to promote this kind of militancy.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump January 6 Insurrection MAGA Cult Christianity Jesus and John Wayne

Statement from Wheaton College Faculty and Staff

Wheaton College steps up and calls out White Christian Nationalism.

Statement from Wheaton College Faculty and Staff

The January 6 attack on the Capitol was characterized not only by vicious lies, deplorable violence, white supremacy, white nationalism, and wicked leadership—especially by President Trump—but also by idolatrous and blasphemous abuses of Christian symbols. The behaviors that many participants celebrated in Jesus’ name bear absolutely no resemblance to the Christian teachings or ethics that we submit to as faculty and staff of Wheaton College. Furthermore, the differential treatment displayed by those with a duty to protect in their engagement with rioters who trespassed on the Capitol grounds illegally, when compared to recent protests over police brutality in D.C. last summer, illustrates the ongoing reality that systemic racism in our country is tragically and undeniably alive and well. These realities are reprehensible. Our Christian faith demands shining a light on these evils and the simultaneous commitment to take appropriate action.

In the days and weeks preceding January 6, many more leaders, including many evangelical leaders, could have spoken truth to the disillusioned supporters of President Trump—diminishing the prospects for violence and bolstering the witness of Christian love and the call for justice in our civic life. Some did. However, many wittingly propagated lies, or were unduly silent in a just cause. Our Christian faith demands greater courage.

We repent of our own failures to speak and to act in accordance with justice, and we lament the failures of the Church to teach clearly and to exercise adequate church discipline in these areas. Moreover, we grieve over the inadequate level of discipleship that has made room for this type of behavior among those who self-identify as Christian.

McCarthy Grows a Sliver of a Spine

Axios Sneak Peek for January 11

“Sneak Peek”, anchored by Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Kadia Goba.

President Trump today privately — and falsely — blamed "Antifa people" for storming the Capitol, even though clear video and documentary evidence exists showing the rioters were overwhelmingly Trump supporters, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.

Why it matters: Despite facing an impeachment vote for an assault he helped incite, the outgoing president is still sticking with his tried-and-true playbook of deflecting and reaching for conspiracies.

Behind the scenes: In a tense, 30-minute-plus phone call this morning with [Republican] House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Trump trotted out the Antifa line.

  • McCarthy would have none of it, telling the president: "It's not Antifa, it's MAGA. I know. I was there," according to a White House official and another source familiar with the call.
  • The White House official said the call was tense and aggressive at times, with Trump ranting about election fraud and an exasperated McCarthy cutting in to say, "Stop it. It's over. The election is over."

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

The Roman Road From Insurrection

This entire newsletter is a forceful Christian response—a proper one, for once—to the insurrection that Trump’s supporters committed last Wednesday.

The Roman Road From Insurrection

Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), writing the “Moore to the Point Newsletter”, for January 11.

The governing authorities do not have a choice as to whether or not to hold people accountable for inciting and carrying out insurrection. To do otherwise would be to cease to be a just society, and to empower future evildoers to do the same. Everyone who attacked our Capitol or planned or directed such a storming of the Capitol, should be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

You will hear people saying that for the sake of “unity” we should quietly put such things away. God forbid. The unity of the people cannot come with a lack of accountability. The police do not have the option to ignore these mobs. The Congress does not have the option to ignore their constitutional obligations on high crimes and misdemeanors. The Vice President and the Cabinet cannot put aside questions of their responsibilities for fear of their futures. To hope that this all will just quietly go away and resolve itself is to incite future terrorists and is to do exactly what the Bible forbids—to “justify the wicked and to condemn the righteous” (Prov. 17:15).

Unity demands accountability. Justice demands accountability. Without such, all we are left with is “lawlessness leading to more lawlessness” (Rom. 6:19).

You don’t have to agree with me. I might be wrong. I don’t speak for anyone else, only myself. But you deserve to hear from me what I honestly think. If I were the President, I would resign. If I were the Vice President, I would assemble the cabinet in accordance with the 25th Amendment. If I were a Member of Congress, I would vote to impeach. And if I were a United States senator, I would vote to convict. And I would be willing, if necessary, to lose my seat to do so. As a matter of fact, I am willing, if necessary, to lose this seat.

Again, I might be wrong. But, if so, propose what can be done to make sure that justice is done and that this never happens to our country again.

Is that easy? No. Will people say you’re a “closet liberal.” Yes. Will people threaten “psychological warfare” or conduct endless investigations against you? Maybe. Will people send threats to kill you and your family or to destroy your reputation and ministry? Perhaps.

You can survive all that. Trust me.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

Records show fervent Trump fans fueled US Capitol takeover

Records show fervent Trump fans fueled US Capitol takeover

By Michael Biesecker, Michael Kunzelman, Gillian Flaccus and Jim Mustian, for the Associated Press.

The Associated Press reviewed social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records for more than 120 people either facing criminal charges related to the Jan. 6 unrest or who, going maskless amid the pandemic, were later identified through photographs and videos taken during the melee.

The evidence gives lie to claims by right-wing pundits and Republican officials such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., that the violence was perpetrated by left-wing antifa thugs rather than supporters of the president.

“If the reports are true,” Gaetz said on the House floor just hours after the attack, “some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters. They were masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.”

Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, told reporters that investigators had seen “no indication” antifa activists were disguised as Trump supporters in Wednesday’s riot.

The AP found that many of the rioters had taken to social media after the November election to retweet and parrot false claims by Trump that the vote had been stolen in a vast international conspiracy. Several had openly threatened violence against Democrats and Republicans they considered insufficiently loyal to the president. During the riot, some livestreamed and posted photos of themselves at the Capitol. Afterwards, many bragged about what they had done.

As the mob smashed through doors and windows to invade the Capitol, a loud chant went up calling for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence, the recent target of a Trump Twitter tirade for not subverting the Constitution and overturning the legitimate vote tally. Outside, a wooden scaffold had been erected on the National Mall, a rope noose dangling at the ready.

So far, at least 90 people have been arrested on charges ranging from misdemeanor curfew violations to felonies related to assaults on police officers, possessing illegal weapons and making death threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

There were also current and former members of the U.S. military in the crowd.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr. of Texas was charged in federal court on Sunday after he was identified in photos showing him standing in the well of the Senate, wearing a military-style helmet and body armor while holding a pair of zip-tie handcuffs.

The insurrectionist mob also included members of the neofascist group known as the Proud Boys, whom Trump urged to “stand back and stand by” when asked to condemn them by a moderator during a presidential debate in September.

Nicholas R. Ochs, 34, was arrested Saturday after returning home to Hawaii, where he is the founder of the local Proud Boys chapter. On Wednesday, Ochs posted a photo of himself on Twitter inside the Capitol, grinning broadly and smoking a cigarette. According to court filings, the FBI matched photos of Ochs taken during the riot to photos taken when Ochs campaigned unsuccessfully last year as the Republican nominee for a seat in the Hawaii statehouse.

Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio was arrested Monday in Washington on weapons charges and ordered to stay out of the nation’s capital. Tarrio is accused of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Black church last month.

The FBI has opened a murder probe into the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation publicly. He died at a hospital.

The Trump supporters who died in the riot were Kevin D. Greeson, 55, of Athens, Alabama; Benjamin Philips, 50, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania; Ashli Babbitt, 35, of San Diego; and Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia.

Boyland’s sister told the AP on Friday she was an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy theory that holds Trump is America’s savior. Her Facebook page featured photos and videos praising Trump and promoting fantasies, including one theory that a shadowy group was using the coronavirus to steal elections. Boyland’s final post on Twitter — a retweet of a post by White House social media director Dan Scavino — was a picture of thousands of people surrounding the Washington Monument on Wednesday.

“She would text me some things, and I would be like, ‘Let me fact-check that.’ And I’d sit there and I’d be like, ‘Well, I don’t think that’s actually right,’” Lonna Cave, Boyland’s sister, said. “We got in fights about it, arguments.”

The AP’s review found that QAnon beliefs were common among those who heeded Trump’s call to come to Washington.

Doug Jensen, 41, was arrested by the FBI on Friday in Des Moines, Iowa, after returning home from the riot. An AP photographer captured images of him confronting Capitol Police officers outside of the Senate chamber on Wednesday.

Jensen was wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with a large Q and the phrase “Trust The Plan,” a reference to QAnon. Video posted online during the storming of the Capitol also appears to show Jensen, who is white, pursuing a Black police officer up an interior flight of stairs as a mob of people trails several steps behind. At several points, the officer says “get back,” but to no avail.

Jensen’s older brother, William Routh, told the AP on Saturday that Jensen believed that the person posting as Q was either Trump or someone very close to the president.

“I feel like he had a lot of influence from the internet that confused or obscured his views on certain things,” said Routh, of Clarksville, Arkansas, who described himself as a Republican Trump supporter. “When I talked to him, he thought that maybe this was Trump telling him what to do.”

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection

Debunking the Conspiracy Theories Claiming That Antifa Led the Attack on the Capitol

Debunking the Conspiracy Theories Claiming That Antifa Led the Attack on the Capitol - The Dispatch

Alec Dent, writing for The Dispatch. (A conservative publication, although not a pro-Trump one.)

While it is, of course, possible that a crowd of tens of thousands of individuals included troublemakers with ties to Antifa or other left-wing groups, there is no evidence to suggest that Antifa members were among those who stormed the Capitol. There is, however, an abundance of evidence demonstrating that Trump-supporting radicals participated in the siege. A number of pro-Trump accounts livestreamed the attack on Congress on social media platforms, including prominent far-right figures Nick Fuentes and Tim Gionet (better known as “Baked Alaska”) who livestreamed themselves breaking into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Derrick Evans, a Republican member of West Virginia’s legislature, broadcast himself breaching the Capitol. A Proud Boy “elder” was among many who shared a selfie from Congress on social media.

Other people who participated in the attack on Congress have been identified as well. Noted QAnon and Trump supporter Jake Angeli drew lots of attention with his face paint and horned hat. Kristina Malimon, a Turning Point USA ambassador who gained notoriety for organizing a Trump boat parade that sank a non-participating boat, was arrested along with her mother for unlawful entry due to her alleged participation in the storming of the Capitol. Ashli Babbitt, who died after being shot while breaking through a window in the Capitol, was an ardent QAnon believer and Trump supporter. Many others openly identified themselves to reporters, such as Richard Barnett, who bragged about a letter from Nancy Pelosi’s office. Barnett is a member of the pro-Trump group 2A NWA Stand and has posted white nationalist comments on social media. A number of participants were identified after sharing videos and pictures of themselves from the storming of the Capitol. After the names of those arrested for their participation in the siege were made public, news outlets looked through social media platforms and interviewed those who knew them, identifying them as Trump supporters.

Even if there were Antifa members present—again, a claim lacking proof—all evidence still points to Trump supporters as the ringleaders of the attack. After Trump encouraged his supporters to come to D.C. on January 6—and after he had spent weeks making the false claim that the election had been stolen—plans were crafted on fringe right-wing media platforms and discussion boards in the weeks leading up to the siege, with plans for sneaking weapons into the rally openly discussed.

All available evidence indicates that Trump supporters, not Antifa members or liberals in disguise, were responsible for the violence and destruction that took place on Capitol Hill Wednesday. There is no current evidence to support claims to the contrary.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump MAGA Cult January 6 Insurrection