January 7th, 2021

Kyoami Looks Up

Of Mobs and Government

It's been hard to focus on much but the news to-day. Especially since, as usual, it's difficult to find articles and reports unfiltered by significant bias. So often a story convinces me something happened but leaves me asking, "What really happened?" prompting me to seek out more and more sources. By a rudimentary net of cross-referencing I gain something like a clear picture of circumstances. Of course, when both The Guardian and Breitbart say Trump Supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol building, it's a good bet that's exactly what happened, though Breitbart has since removed the term "Trump Supporters" from their headline.

It's this widespread obfuscation that has led to frustration on both sides and fomented rage on both sides. Though to those Trump supporters who would argue that it's evidence of election fraud I would ask them to compare the 2016 and 2020 elections. When Hillary Clinton lost the electoral college and won the popular vote, she didn't incite invasion and vandalism of a federal building, she didn't stubbornly refuse to concede for months. And Biden won both the popular vote and the electoral college.

The invasion of protesters has rightly been called a terrorist act because it was intended to and succeeded in inspiring terror. And like most terrorist acts, the terror it inspired had the exact opposite effect of what the terrorists hoped to achieve. Republican lawmakers who previously supported Trump's dispute of the election results, like Senator Loeffler, changed their minds as a direct result of being frightened out of their minds by a mob intruding on and vandalising their workplace. Again, I'm reminded of 2016 when I said I thought the best movie to watch to understand the Trump presidency was Luis Bunuel's Viridiana. It was hard not to think of the dirty beggars rifling through the household finery, a move that shook the titular character's desire to champion their liberty, when I saw pictures of a Trump supporter kicking back in Nancy Pilosi's office, or that guy in the buffalo hood romping around on that familiar blue carpeting, amid the marble columns. Only now Trump isn't the figure of tighter security, of the iron fist who promises to keep the rabble in line. Now he's truly the figurehead of the rabble. There are few things he could have done that would more decisively turn Republicans against him.

For years, I've watched the rhetoric on both sides of the political spectrum ramp up and I see it in full, grotesque extravagance to-day. Both sides call for violence, both sides point to the irony of the other side's attitude about their own violent protests. And then both sides are seemingly shocked that the other side would dare use violent rhetoric.

I looked through the Twitter account of Ashli Babbit to-day, a Trump supporter shot and killed by police in the Capitol. She was unarmed but she was trying to break into the Speaker's office. The comparisons between her and George Floyd are already flooding social media. She's an obvious flashpoint for the two sides to condemn each other as monsters. As it happens, she's from San Diego, my hometown. Her Twitter is filled with pictures of familiar seasides. Mostly she retweeted other people but she also has videos in which she rants about border security, liberal media, and the California Governor, whom she blamed for many people losing their homes. She doesn't come off as a smart person, she may even have been a hateful person, but she seems like she genuinely cared about people. That's the kind of thing the Democrats are going to have to recognise if there's any hope in truly avoiding a civil war--the two sides have to recognise each other's humanity. That's looking increasingly unlikely.

Last week I listened to the infamous hour long recording of Trump in a phone conference all but begging for votes, his argument pathetically dissolving into flat assertions that he'd won the election. As though, like a spoiled child, he could make something happen just by saying he wanted it. And I thought again, how could anyone take this guy seriously? How could anyone think he belongs in a place of authority? But maybe it's not surprising when so many have praised selfishness for years while the quality of education has decreased.

I hope for the best but I think we're in for the worst.