Last night, the nation was treated to the unwelcome sound of Donald Trump sticking his head out of whatever misbegotten golf locker he’s retreated to in the wake of his disastrous presidency and humiliating defeat in the 2020 elections.
Joining white supremacist Laura Ingraham on FOX News, the disgraced ex-president provoked outrage on social media for trying to recast the horrifying events of the January 6th mob siege on Capitol Hill as a friendly, harmless misunderstanding by wonderful people who were now being “persecuted” for their actions.
Ingraham set the scene by defending the idea of mob invasions in and of themselves, asking Trump if he was “concerned that the U.S. Capitol after Jan 6th has become a fortress, protecting the Capitol from the people who are supposed to be the ones in charge here, not the people in the Capitol surrounding themselves with razor-wire.”
This is about as unsubtle a dog-whistle as you can get and toes the line of inciting another attack on Congress, since she obviously means that the Trump fanatics and QAnon devotees who stormed the capitol and killed a police officer are “supposed to be in charge here.”
Trump’s response was predictably appalling, completely misrepresenting the events of January 6th and the perpetrators while immediately dovetailing into a racist disparagement of the Black Lives Matter movement and the “antifascist ” boogeymen that the right-wing, as fascists, naturally obsess over.
“It was zero threat, right from the start… Look, they went in, they shouldn’t have done it, some of them went in, and they are hugging and kissing the police and the guards, they had great relationships, a lot of the people were waved in, and then they walked in and they walked out and I’ll tell you what, they’re doing things to — they’re persecuting a lot of those people! When I look at antifa in Washington, what they did to Washington and to other locations, and the destruction, and frankly the killing and the beating up of people? Why aren’t they going after antifa?” complained Trump.
"It was zero threat, right from the start, it was zero threat" — Trump on the January 6 insurrection that left 5 dead, including a police officer pic.twitter.com/6YBho1bywM
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 26, 2021
There are hours of video footage showing that the January 6th rioters were not “hugging and kissing” the cops. Officer Brian Sicknick died after he was confronted by insurrectionists with chemical sprays intended for use in bear attacks.
Judging from Ingraham’s question and Trump’s response, the right-wing propaganda machine’s clear intention is to soothe the concerns of any potential would-be-insurrectionists that what happened on January 6th was an abhorrent event that should not be repeated.
On the contrary, they are working overtime to convince them that a fascist takeover of the government is not only appropriate but would be a good thing for this country and that the punishments being laid out to the rioters are just a liberal witch hunt and not the enforcement of the laws that the right-wing claims to respect so much.
It should be painfully obvious to everyone that the Republican Party and its supporters are actively working to destroy our democracy, be it through nationwide voter suppression legislation or a mob attack, and we must take drastic action to make sure they don’t succeed. Eliminating the filibuster and passing the “For The People Act” would be a great start!
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.