Alternate history: Biden’s account of January 6 Capitol riot isn’t factually challenged, but serving a political narrative
While US President Joe Biden was quickly challenged for describing the January 6 Capitol riot as the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War,” there is a peculiar logic behind it – one that most people have missed.
The line – also leaked to the press in advance of Wednesday’s address to a rump Congress – was used to set up Biden’s claim that his administration has completely turned the country around in 100 days. While it was eagerly picked up by partisans in the corporate press, it was just as quickly panned by critics from across the political spectrum.
Or Pearl Harbor?
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 29, 2021
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, for example, called Biden’s claim “completely unhinged drama queen script,” in a Twitter thread bringing up 9/11 – in which the fourth airplane was supposedly aimed for the Capitol – the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal office building, as well as a train of abuses by the US government itself, to conclude that “the list of worse attacks than [January] 6 is endless.”
OAN’s Jack Posobiec simply posted a photo of “insurrectionists” staying within the velvet ropes strung between the stanchions in the Capitol Rotunda, with a caption “Worse than the Civil War.”
Worse than the Civil War pic.twitter.com/x502YmeyyM
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) April 29, 2021
More than one Twitter user also pointed to the 1983 bombing of the US Senate by the May 19th Communist Organization. One of the members of that group, Susan Rosenberg, had her 58-year sentence for weapons and explosives possession commuted by President Bill Clinton in 2001 – at the urging of Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-New York), currently one of the most influential House Democrats – and is now a celebrated political activist on the left.
All of this criticism is factually correct. Yet none of it matters. Because the characterization of January 6 as an “insurrection” threatening ‘Our Democracy’ embraced by Biden, the Democrats and the corporate press isn’t about facts, but about creating a Narrative.
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This was obvious from Biden’s own words on Wednesday, when he circled back to January 6 towards the end of his speech:
“As we gather here tonight, the images of a violent mob assaulting this Capitol – desecrating our democracy – remain vivid in our minds,” Biden said. “Lives were put at risk – many of your lives. Lives were lost. Extraordinary courage was summoned. The insurrection was an existential crisis – a test of whether our democracy could survive. It did.”
Notice the passive voice and the religious symbolism (“desecrating”). This is not by accident. One cannot logically parse this language; it’s emotional by design. Much has been made of the “five people killed” in the “insurrection” – itself a loaded term to justify political persecutions of everyone involved, then-president Donald Trump himself, and Republicans in general – even though three people died of unrelated medical conditions and the only person actually killed was Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, shot by a Capitol Police officer. Not a peep about that from the party screaming to “defund the police,” of course.
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Even when the medical examiner admitted – four months later – that Officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes, rather than “injuries” in the riot, the Capitol Police continued to insist he died in “an attack on our democracy.”
Meanwhile, an actual deadly attack on Capitol Police on April 2 – which killed one officer and injured another – has been memory-holed. The fact that the perpetrator was a black man who claimed to be a Nation of Islam member doesn’t fit the Narrative, also embraced by Biden last night, that “white supremacy is terrorism” that most threatens Our Democracy.
I’m capitalizing the phrase because it has emerged over the past several years as a proper name of sorts – just like the United States went from plural to singular following the original Civil War (1861-65). That’s because the Democrats are behaving as if they just won another civil war, and successfully replaced the old constitutional republic with what they call Our Democracy.
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A party that has proposed abolishing the Senate filibuster, packing the Supreme Court, and expanding the Senate and the House by giving statehood to Washington, DC – as the Democrats have – isn’t seeking to preserve the existing order, but to bring about revolutionary change. To create a pretext for this, they have conjured a pseudo-historical narrative of January 6 being an “insurrection,” the same way they’ve made the death of George Floyd into a manifestation of systemic racism in America somehow.
Surely truth will come to light and history books will set the story straight, you might say. Yet in a country that effectively erased the Soviet Union from the history of WWII and replaced it with ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ‘Schindler’s List’ and Michael Bay’s ‘Pearl Harbor,’ that’s by no means guaranteed.
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