Soapbox

Call It by Its Name: Wednesday Was a Fascist Riot

Tyler Merbler, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday left us in shock. Rioters stormed up the steps, climbed up the walls of the U.S. Capitol, broke windows and battered through doors to get into the building. Then they meandered through Statuary Hall like tourists, before breaking into offices and Senate and House chambers. You were watching too; we were all glued to our screens that afternoon. This was the first time that our “temple of democracy” was attacked since 1814 (during the War of 1812), when the British burnt down the Capitol and other government buildings. They occupied Washington for only 26 hours before retreating.

As events were unfolding, much of the reporting and most pundits were quick to point out that yes, these in fact were Trump loyalists and yes, they did engage in violent behavior, but one crucial word has been left out of many of the discussions in the wake of the riot in Washington D.C. on Wednesday—fascism.

For the entirety of his term, Trump has made no secret of his desire to stay in office indefinitely. He’s made countless speeches saying he “might” stay in office for 10 or more years. He at least once publicly quipped that “we might try” having a “president for life.” Throughout the 2020 election cycle, Trump has repeatedly made sure to say that any result other than an overwhelming win in his favor would be “fraudulent” and “rigged.” Meanwhile, the President has not only been able to craft a devoted cult-like following, but encouraged that following to violently attack anyone remotely critical of him or his agenda. 

Those who stormed the Capitol building weren’t “anarchists” or “a few bad apples,” they were answering a call more than four years long to install Trump as President for life, even in the face of a free and fair democratic election that said otherwise. Though there was plenty of chaos and disorganization, evidence is now coming to light that the events at the Capitol  were fully coordinated in advance.

The fascists who stormed the Capitol Wednesday made no secret about their intentions prior to heading to Washington that day. Not only did they post publicly about their plans online–some even had shirts made for the occasion. 

In NBC reports on the messageboard 8kun, which replaced the 8chan board after it was taken down in the wake of multiple mass shootings by right-wing extremists in 2019, at least one user was extremely explicit in what they hoped to see at the Capitol on Wednesday. 

“You can go to Washington on Jan 6 and help storm the Capital,” the post read. “As many Patriots as can be. We will storm the government buildings, kill cops, kill security guards, kill federal employees and agents, and demand a recount.”

On a website known as The Donald, a clone of the now banned The_Donald page on Reddit, users openly talked about what weapons to bring with them to the rally and executing politicians they didn’t like.

And while online message boards have varying degrees of anonymity, those who broke through the barricades and entered the building snapped selfies, smiled for pictures, and posted proudly what they were up to throughout the day. At least one man even had his work identification card around his neck.

The response from some Trump loyalists in the wake of the riot has been everything from “we didn’t do anything wrong” to “actually it was anti-fascists impersonating us who rioted” to whataboutism regarding civil unrest that occurred over the summer, to “I was there but made a mistake in taking part but also didn’t do anything wrong.” All of these are a combination of downplaying their own culpability, gaslighting, and outright lies. All of those responses are meant to obfuscate the true intention of so many who were in the Capitol that day, and so many who have devoted the last few years to worshipping Donald Trump—turning the United States into a full fascist regime with him at the helm. 

The alarm bells have been going off recently as white supremacists and other fascists have been taking roles in law enforcement, the military, and other parts of government; but this has been have going on for well more than a decade. In 2006, the FBI released a bulletin expressing concern over skinheads and neo-nazis infiltrating law enforcement agencies in America. As far back as the 1990s, white supremacists and other fascists had plans to work their way into these roles, and they didn’t exactly keep it a secret. 

Frank Meeink, a former white supremacist and member of neo-nazi gangs, told a House Committee in September about a meeting he attended in the ’90s where this was discussed. 

“Late in 1992, I went to Aryan Fest in a desert town in California. At the time, I still had a big swastika tattoo on my neck,” said Meeink. Many people made comments about me needing to get rid of it, and grow out my hair, because we needed all our people to join the military and police. The fact that many of these neo Nazis became cops, means there is something not right with the screening process in law enforcement.”

Concerns that fascists have been inside law enforcement and other roles in government agencies local and federal have been reiterated over and over, but have mostly been swept to the side, particularly during and by the Trump administration, which shut down programs designed to encourage equity and inclusion and combat white nationalist extremism. 

It shouldn’t then come as a surprise that law enforcement on site were woefully unprepared, outnumbered, and ill-equipped to handle a mob of people who stormed the Capitol because they wanted to see a xenophobic President installed as dictator-in-chief. Despite dozens of injuries sustained by officers and one now dead, mounting evidence from the day shows that at least some people working that day turned a blind eye toward, gave subtle nods to, and in some cases, assisted the fascist mob storming the building.

Video from a livestream posted to Twitter shows one member of the fascist mob posing for a selfie with an officer. Another video appears to show officers letting people through barricades at the Capitol. Even as the situation began to slowly wind down, participants were allowed to leave the building of their own volition and one even had an officer hold their hand on their way down the steps. According to The New York Times, two members of the mob say they were given directions to Senator Chuck Schumer’s office by a Capitol Police officer. 

A member of the Proud Boys who has since been arrested, told CNN “we didn’t have to break in, I just walked in and filmed.” 

All of this took place just a short while after Trump himself addressed a crowd of devotees, many of whom left his speech to take part in storming the Capitol, which he encouraged them to do. Numerous other right-wing legislators and personalities were present to revel in the presence of their leader, who all but personally led the group to the Capitol steps. The streets of Washington meanwhile seemed to appear completely absent of militarized police, who were a fixture during months of Black Lives Matter protests over the summer, and on multiple occasions tear gassed, clubbed, and arrested groups of peaceful demonstrators. 

And while plenty of the destruction inside the walls of the Capitol appeared random, a much darker picture of what might’ve been is slowly being uncovered. Amid the chaos of people stealing podiums, smearing feces on the bathroom walls, and taking photos in the offices of legislators, more organized members of the mob were determined to do much more damage. Pipe bombs were left outside the offices of both the DNC and the RNC. Journalists were targeted and assaulted. Several of those both inside and out had clubs and other improvised weapons. Photos show multiple people who breached the Capitol were wearing tactical gear and zip ties, as if they were planning to take hostages. 

The events that took place Wednesday cannot be separated from President Donald Trump, nor can they be separated from those who demanded the overturn of a democratic election so he could be installed as a dictator. They equally cannot be separated from the calls for the murder of his opponents and critics by the cults most devoted to him. The storming of the Capitol wasn’t the culmination of Trump’s presidency, but another shot fired by a fascist movement that’s coalesced around him for his entire presidency. 

The fascism is coming from inside the house. 

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1 reply »

  1. It wasn’t just a fascist riot; it was a part of a seditious insurrection; which was itself a part of an attempted coup.

    Calling it a protest is a real disservice to the English language.

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