Read time: 10 minutes

Does The Average Trump Supporter Think Riot Was 'Not That Bad'?

I’ve been watching, as has much of the world, the events even now still unfolding from the invasion of the Capitol Building by Trump fanatics. To my dismay, I’ve discovered that I have a few friends who aren’t all that active politically but have loyally supported Trump and voted for him... and they aren’t letting go.
Does The Average Trump Supporter Think Riot Was 'Not That Bad'?
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I’ve been watching, as has much of the world, the events even now still unfolding from the invasion of the Capitol Building by Trump fanatics. To my dismay, I’ve discovered that I have a few friends who aren’t all that active politically but have loyally supported Trump and voted for him. They aren’t letting go – desperately wanting to believe this was all the work of antifa, a leftist conspiracy to discredit the greatest President of all time, fake media taking everything out of context or just making it up, at worst a bunch of yahoos who took it all the wrong way...

These are good people, kind people, beloved friends of many years. But. They cannot – will not – accept that “their” side could do this. Even worse, they’re dismissing the carnage as not being really “all that bad.”

Not all that bad…

Five people died, including a cop, his head bashed in by a fire extinguisher. Nobody “accidently” smashes someone’s head in with a fire extinguisher, it was murder, nothing less. Another cop was almost murdered, being intentionally crushed by the mob between a metal door and police shields, his gas mask clawed off his face by one of the rioters, blood gushing from his mouth as he screamed for help. A lone black Capitol cop was chased up the stairways by a gang of white men in MAGA caps who very obviously intended to harm him until other of his colleagues arrived to back him up. Armed only with a baton, he purposely made himself bait to lure them away from a door that would have led them to their goal, the Chamber floor, risking his own life. Over 50 police officers were injured, some hospitalised in serious condition.

Not all that bad…

Inside the Chamber, security was evacuating members of Congress and staffers to safety, but it took time. Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania – the woman in that photograph lying on the floor having a panic attack and comforted by Rep. Jason Crow, a combat vet, as the windows in the gallery were being smashed and security were standing with drawn guns – was one of the last people to evacuate the gallery. Police rushed Pelosi and Steny Hoyer off the floor below, but the gallery doors were locked and barricaded, those who hadn’t already escaped told to get the gasmasks from under their seats. Many were trapped in the upper gallery, with no escape route. Rep. Diana DeGette leaned over the railing and yelled: “What about all of us?”

There was only one open door for the people in the gallery, walking single file through narrow aisles to get to it. By the time they did, the mob had blocked that exit as well. They heard gunfire and police shouting, “Get down! Get down!” so those in the gallery crawled on hands and knees. Rep. Terri Sewell called her husband and her mother to tell them she loved them, the sort of thing you do when you think you’re going to die. Rep. Jason Crow rang his wife. Susan Wild, thinking she might never see them again, Facetimed her children on her phone. At last, when the remaining people were rushed out, Rep. Wild lost a shoe in the scramble. It was not a dignified escape, it was desperate and chilling.

When they were finally safe, many removed their Congressional pins so that if they were to run into the rioters they wouldn’t be identified as members of Congress – but a Black Representative kept his on because he didn’t want the police not to know he wasn’t a member, more afraid of being shot by the cops than he was of the mob.

Not that bad…

And while all that was happening, another woman, Ashli Babbitt - ex-military and fanatical Trump supporter - was shot and killed as she tried to force her way into the House chamber. That managed to slow the rest of the mob attack long enough for Susan Wild and her colleagues to be rescued. Her death possibly saved their lives.

They also escaped two of the "zip-tie guys" - one identified as retired Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock, Jr. an Air Force combat veteran, the other a bartender from Nashville named Eric Munchel who had been in several other Trump protests, neither antifa – who finally invaded the empty Chamber carrying flexi-cuffs, hunting for members of Congress to take hostage, chiefly Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and that now hated "turncoat" Mike Pence. Their goal was as starkly obvious as the gallows that had been erected in front of the Capitol and the mob could be heard chanting “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!”

Not that bad…

The doofuses in silly costumes baying at the moon, the irrational mob Trump sneered at as he watched them on television as looking too "low class" for his taste, the whackadoodle buffoons, the toothless rednecks waving Confederate flags, the fratdudes, the whining piano scarfed naïf shocked that she was maced when they were only trying to have a nice little revolution – they were just camouflage. Behind the façade of that Looney Toons travesty were a lot of far more serious people, many of them ex-military, law enforcement, and members of right-wing militia who came prepared for a real coup. They had come with pipe bombs, body armour and military gear, bolt cutters, pepper spray, two-way radios, flexi-cuffs… not the sort of things you just happen to have in a backpack during an impromptu uprising. They had enough intelligence on the lay-out of the Capitol and knew their way around that they were able to easily find obscure and unmarked Congressional offices. They weren’t mugging for the cameras or taking selfies, they wore masks to hide their faces and were there on a mission, hunting. When they didn't find their quarry, they didn't make off with souvenirs – a broken office plaque, or a looted podium – or smear their shit on the walls like monkeys in a zoo. They stole laptops and classified files.

Not that bad…

An AP photographer was grabbed by the mob, punched and kicked and thrown over a ledge, accused of being an “antifa” infiltrator, even while his press credentials were on obvious display. Another photographer from the New York Times, after Trump supporters surrounded her and demanded to know what news organization she was with, knocked her to the ground and stomped on her and her cameras, shouting “Fake News!” and “The media is the enemy of the people!” She thought she was about to be killed and no one would stop them. And no one did.

Not that bad…

The mob that stormed the Capitol were chanting for all the world to see and hear: “Stop the steal!” “We love the Proud Boys!” “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat!” “Hang them all!” “Everyone in that building is a traitor and should be shot!” “Murder the media!” “Four more years!” “Fight for Trump, fight for Trump, fight for Trump!” None of these goons were antifa - the sheer logistics it would take to create some nefarious antifa conspiracy and pin it on Trump and his virtuous supporters to make him “look bad” is so farfetched it gives me a headache trying to imagine it. Yet Trump’s supporters are clinging to that feeble excuse to keep from drowning in the blood.

They were Trump zealots, both the silly and the serious, the stupid easily manipulated into a mindless riot, the dangerous at last set loose to do what they’d dreamed of doing for the last four years. And after the Capitol had been ransacked, after five people had died and dozens more injured, after all that… the vast majority of these people simply walked away, still grinning and chanting, whooping with adrenaline and testosterone, promising that they’ll be back with more guns, watch out Inauguration Day, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. The vast majority got away with it, as they knew they would. A few have been arrested, charged with minor crimes that carry a maximum of a year in prison.

This mob wasn’t a bunch of frat boys in silly costumes trashing a fraternity house after a drunken kegger. They’re not “vandals.” They’re not “trespassers.” They’re seditionist criminals. They are accessories to murder, attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, treason. But most of them will skate with maybe a year in jail, maybe nothing at all. The justice system has always favoured and protected them. And most of them honestly believed they were going to win – Trump had promised them they would.

Not that bad…

Yet after that. After all of that. Republicans returned to a Chamber strewn with broken glass and smashed furniture and blood-spattered statues, and STILL tried to sway the electoral votes in Trump’s favour to keep him, and themselves, in power. Still. Still.

Because, really. It’s just wasn’t that bad…

So if none of that is enough to finally dispel the notion that this is all just rhetoric, the President didn’t actually mean to incite them to march down Pennsylvania Avenue and “take back” our country, it’s not his fault, he was misunderstood, it was just a few bad apples, he was cheated so what did we expect… what is? Where is the new goal post of what is unacceptable?

What would be enough to break this obstinate belief in the myth of Donald Trump? Would it have been enough if the mob had been able to capture Pelosi or Pence, dragged them to the gallows they’d erected in front of the Capitol and lynched them in front of a baying bloodthirsty mob? Would the beaten and raped bodies of AOC and Ilhan Omar twisting at the end of a rope be enough to at last understand that Trump had whipped his fanatical base into a killing frenzy to serve his own political desires?

No? Not bad enough yet? How about if he decides if he can’t have what he wants, no one can, and launches a nuclear strike – probably at North Korea, but might as well be at Scotland because he’s pissed off they’ve banned him from absconding to his golf course there. Maybe he’s enough of a nihilist he doesn’t care if everyone on the planet dies, or maybe he thinks he’ll be safe enough in the White House bunker, and when the fallout settles he can repopulate the earth with Ivanka…

Yes, I’m being ridiculous. It’s completely preposterous, absurd, nonsensical. I’m pushing out the boat of reductio ad absurdum as far as it will go. It’s as ludicrous an idea as… as…. Well, I dunno. How about as ludicrous as a “low-class” mob, spurred on by the rhetoric of a bitter narcissist, invading Capitol Hill, attacking anyone they decided was an “enemy” – a photographer, a cop, a member of Congress – erecting a gallows to lynch politicians they hate, murdering a cop, smearing shit on walls and graffitiing statues of historical luminaries with MAGA slogans. And able to walk away unscathed, still chanting and grinning and posting selfies. That sort of thing would only ever happen in a movie. Right?

So please, all you folks who still follow this man, think he’s the best President we’ve ever had, that it’s been blown out of proportion, we on the left are just wussies and crybabies. What would be bad enough? I really would like to know.

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