My friend and colleague Bill Whitaker did an excellent job with his column in the Waco Tribune-Herald calling out the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, as the abomination that it was. Many are now asking “why this happened”? Here is my take on “why”. Be warned, many of you will not like this, because to tell you that “why”, I might have to challenge what you may believe.
The Trump presidency continues until noon January 20th, unless he is removed from office earlier in some way. What you may not yet know is that his “fearless leader” cult, the Qanon community, are pushing for him to declare martial law, despite the failed coup attempt on the 6th. This is now to be justified by the supposed presence of "Antifa terrorists" masquerading as Trump supporters.
These ringers supposedly actually started the break-in as a false-flag operation to discredit the real Trump supporters. I got this first hand from a youtube video from one (of many) known Qanon outlets (David Zhang's "Beyond the Noise"), forwarded to me by a friend whom I know to be a fervent Qanon believer.
By way of reality check, there is no single, or even a few, organizations that could be called "Antifa". That is merely a label applied to an unorganized and rather-varied class of leftist extremists. Some of these are no doubt terrorists, but they are more of a threat individually, not as an organization. So the latest ploy of blaming Antifa, instead of Trump supporters incited to violence, is simply untrue.
The real organized threat here is the Qanon community itself, which is a definite (if informal) organization, now communicating on the GAB and PARLER services, having just been chased off Twitter and Facebook (for being a dangerous organization promoting violence.) And, they have been identified as a serious domestic terror threat by the FBI. We just saw this warning come true, with the events of the 6th.
Here is the danger: the only people still close to President Trump are those advisors who are known to be Qanon believers. Those include Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, and to one extent or another, Rudy Giuliani. Their Q-derived falsehoods are essentially all he hears! And we know already that those falsehoods can incite violence out of people.
As long as he holds the presidency, Mr. Trump still has his finger on the nuclear trigger, as well as the ability to order conventional war.
Update 14 January 2021: It appears that the mob had insider help getting into the Capitol, and insider help for locating those they intended to kidnap. (It also appears that insider help was not just a officer or two letting them in.) And, I presume that the mob intended to execute their prisoners, because I saw on the video the gallows they had set up.
Move On has published the names of 3 Republican Congressmen they accuse of participating in the planning of the attack, with a reconnaisance tour the day before. We will see if that accusation bears up. And I suspect there are more instances of such treachery.
Move On has also repeated the accusation that I heard earlier off mainstream reports that known Qanon believer Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-CO) was tweeting Nancy Pelosi's location to the mob during the attack. That does not surprise me, given the other things she has said.
If proven to be true, these allegations just go to prove my point about how dangerous this Qanon conspiracy really is, when added to all the far-right extremist groups out there.
As I said, I think more of this treachery will be revealed. Those who did this must be held accountable, and it's not just Trump, that is for sure!
We will soon see if the Senate can act for the people in Trump's second impeachment case, under the condition that about two thirds of Republican Senators seem to be partial or total subscribers to the Qanon lies. The first time around, they essentially admitted that he "did it", but they still did not choose to convict.
Further, the risk of more mob violence to stop the transition of power between now and January 20th is still quite serious, precisely because there are still hordes of rabid Trump supporters unwilling to accept his election defeat, instead sincerely believing it was stolen by fraud! The inauguration itself will prove to be the next target. The same kind of crowd that attacked the Capitol on the 6th is now threatening on-line to bring their guns to the inauguration.
The best estimates I can find indicate that something like half to three quarters of Republicans and Trump supporters believe at least some of the false Qanon claims about reality. Many of them may not really know where these claims actually come from, getting their supposed news and information from social media “echo chambers” that (until recently) were entirely unpoliced for truth.
Qanon is a “fearless leader” cult around Trump that started in 2017, not long after he was elected (see the Wikipedia article about Qanon for a good start at understanding this). It has very definite fascist or authoritarian roots in its beginnings on the internet. Almost none of those who lean Democrat are involved with this, and apparently few of them know much about it. However, it is always best to understand a potential adversary, which is why I have investigated this cult.
My version of the list of those claims follows, with some notes about them that are my opinions:
#1. There is a stealthy cabal of Satan-worshipping child-traffickers that controls everything, known as the “Deep State”, which is composed mostly of Democrats, plus some Republicans-in-name-only. Mr. Trump is secretly leading the fight to overturn this cabal. This claim dates to the beginning of the Qanon community.
Typically, only the true believers say much about this claim. The politicians who merely pander to the believers among their constituents, rarely say much about this one.
Update 1-23-21: Why would this claim be true when the other 4 claims are false?
#2. There is supposed to be an event called ”the Storm”, in which the “Deep State” is overthrown by Trump with the US military, leading to mass arrests, imprisonments in Guantanamo Bay, military tribunals, and mass executions. In its most extreme form, the secret executions have already begun. This claim, too, has been around since the beginning of the Qanon cult. However, not much has been said about this claim since Trump’s November election loss, to the best of my knowledge.
Again, this one was typically mentioned only by the true believers, and not much at all by the pandering politicians.
Update 1-23-21: Trump is out of the presidency, and is headed for a Senate impeachment trial sometime after Feb 8. The military is demonstrably loyal per their oaths to the Constitution, and so to their new commander-in-chief, President Joseph Biden, per the inauguration on the 20th. There was no "Storm". There will be no "Storm". That claim is demonstrably false.
#3. The SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 pandemic is an overblown hoax; the disease really being only an ordinary influenza, with medical entities paid by the government (the “Deep State”) to inflate disease and death figures. Extreme forms make false claims about the purpose or safety of the Covid-19 vaccines. Another common corollary is that wearing a mask to slow disease spread is somehow unAmerican, or an infringement on liberty. These claims date to 2019, right after the disease first appeared in the US.
Both true believers, and pandering politicians, make this claim. This false belief and the irresponsible behavior it engenders, is why Trump rallies and parties have been superspreader events. That is not to say that holiday gatherings and people gathered in bars are not also superspreader events, because they are.
Update 1-23-21: stats say 500,000 dead by February, which is substantially larger than those we lost during WW2. This disease is on track to exceed the toll of the 1918 pandemic in a shorter period of time (675,000 dead in 2 years). The claim is demonstrably false on the face of it.
#4. The November 2020 election was a ”win” for Trump, stolen from him by massive election fraud. Despite the lawsuit record of 60+ lawsuits thrown out by courts for a total lack of any credible evidence, this belief persists very strongly! It is the primary incitement motivation for the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th. This is a very dangerous belief!
This is a very fervent belief among Qanon true believers, and also among the many who believe only part of the Qanon claims, and it has been widely disseminated by many Republican politicians, who pander to the believers among their constituents. This falsehood is the basis for the GOP Representatives and Senators who objected to the electoral vote tallies from the swing states.
Update 1-23-21: this claim was demonstrably false, and that was known before the insurrection on the 6th! The 60-some court cases thrown out for lack of credible evidence are rather conclusive, not to mention all the election officials' certifications regardless of their party affiliations, and ex-AG Barr's statement about there having been no massive fraud, despite his prior unflinching support of Mr. Trump.
#5. The mainstream media are “fake news”, being controlled by the “Deep State”, and lying to the public for them. We have heard from Mr. Trump’s own mouth the epithet “fake news” since his original run for office. He may, in fact, be where the Qanon community got this phrase, and incorporated it into their ”Deep State controls everything” falsehood.
This one is quoted by true Q believers, and by the Trump supporters who do not necessarily subscribe to all the claims, and until recently by some of the pandering politicians. It’s not really a screening tool. It may actually be a corollary to claim 1, but it does predate that claim.
Update 1-23-21: events through the inauguration have unfolded exactly as reported by the supposedly-"fake news" "mainstream media", and not at all in accordance with the Qanon claims. Proof enough that the "mainstream media" are not "fake news" at all. This is quite obviously a true statement when you understand that "mainstream media" means the 5 broadcast TV news outlets and their websites, not the bullshit seen on cable TV, or internet social media, or heard on talk radio.
Now you know why some folks believe strange stuff politically, and behave the way that they do. And you also now know how to tell who they are. And why the very serious risk to democracy continues as long as this leader cult’s false belief system persists.
I do think we have to do something about some of the falsehoods that spread all across the internet, specifically those that could incite riots or worse. Especially those that are already revealed to have caused violence.
But we have to be very careful how exactly we do that. The elements are (1) falsehood, and (2) dangerous to the public safety. It has to be both. This is exactly like it being illegal in all 50 states to yell “fire” in a crowded theater, when there is none. People could be hurt or killed by that. False plus dangerous. See?
These many internet communication services, big or small, are all owned and operated by people. Those people seem to be completely un-responsible for the damages done (or risked) by any lies told on their services. So, such are unpoliced.
I suggest we make those owners and operators responsible for the damages risked or done by lies told on their various services. Personally responsible. With big fines that their organizations cannot pay for them. Jail time if egregious-enough a case.
It’ll take an example or two before the word gets out that we-the-people are serious about this. But once the word does get out, these owners and operators will police their own services for dangerous content. And the reach of violence-inspiring conspiracy theories like Qanon will be greatly reduced.
Many will object to this, on the basis of “restricting free speech”. But my counter argument is that NO right is absolute! All rights have common sense limits!
· My right to swing my fist ends BEFORE I strike another. So does yours.
· My right to carry and use a gun ends BEFORE I shoot somebody else, except in self defense, and only as a last resort. So does yours.
· My right to free speech does NOT include yelling “fire” in a crowded theater when there is none. Neither does yours.
And THAT is my take on it!
Closely-related articles on this site include the following list. Use the navigation tool on the left to find them quickly. Click on the year, then the month, then the title (if necessary).
1-1-21 Observations About the Mainstream Media, And Much More
12-18-20 Q As A Threat to the US
2-13-20 Beware of Leader Cults
Update 1-17-2021: add "Sometimes You Simply Must Do What Is Right" published 1-17-2021.