Case one: Use tear gas and violent tactics to break up peaceful demonstrations.
Case two. Step aside and let rioters invade the Capitol.
On Wednesday, as I was watching Trump’s supporters storm the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the result of the presidential election, the first thing that came into my mind, was that, if the protesters had been Black, they would most likely have been shot to death on the steps outside the building. I also immediately remembered the huge display of force that had been organized to deal with the peaceful BLM demonstrations that took place last summer.
Anytime Black people gather to demonstrate pacifically, they are routinely met by huge numbers of police outfitted in riot gear who attack them with tear gas, rubber bullets and batons. This time, instead, a group of white supremacists was allowed to violently storm the Capitol with only token resistance by a few hundred poorly equipped police officers.
The invasion of the Capitol building by the insurrectionist mob on Wednesday, during which five people died, clearly represents the most evident display of an undeniable racial double standard in the United States of America.
Speaking on television the day after the riots, President elect Joe Biden said: “No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol. And it is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable.”
An article in the L.A. Times reported that, “In images posted on social media and beamed around the world Wednesday, small clusters of U.S. Capitol Police officers retreated, fell away from violent assaults or simply moved aside as a large mob descended on the seat of American legislative power.” Clearly, there was a lack of coordination with Metro police and both Donald Trump and Mike Pence refused to deploy the National Guard. “The storming of the U.S. Capitol offers a reminder that the most devastating attacks often aren’t the ones that take us by surprise but those we see coming and don’t take adequate steps to avoid,” writes David Ignatius in the Washington Post.
In Europe, law enforcement officials and security experts were dismayed by what happened in the US capital. Several European security officials described the invasion of the Capitol Building with the intent to block the ratification of Joe Biden’s victory as an attempted coup d’état, and said Trump’s supporters appeared to have at least tacit backing from top officials of the US federal agencies responsible for securing the Capitol complex.
According to Business Insider, its reporters spoke with three officials on Thursday morning: a French police official responsible for public security in a key section of central Paris, and two intelligence officials from NATO countries who directly work in counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations involving the US, terrorism, and Russia. “They said the circumstantial evidence available pointed to what would be openly called a coup attempt in any other nation.”
While they did not furnish evidence that federal agency officials facilitated the chaos, Business Insider reported this information because it illustrates the scale and seriousness of Wednesday’s events: America’s international military and security allies are giving serious credence to the idea that Trump deliberately tried to violently overturn an election and that some federal law-enforcement agents — by omission or otherwise — facilitated the attempt. As Business Insider reported the impression of the NATO intelligence official, “The defeated president gives a speech to a group of supporters where he tells them he was robbed of the election, denounces his own administration’s members and party as traitors, and tells his supporters to storm the building where the voting is being held…The supporters, many dressed in military attire and waving revolutionary-style flags, then storm the building where the federal law-enforcement agencies controlled by the current president do not establish a security cordon, and the protesters quickly overwhelm the last line of police.”
Even though at this time it may appear that, all things considered, what happened last week was not as bad as it seemed, in reality things were much worse than they seemed.
In the beginning we only had a partial idea because there was so much news that it was hard to process: Reports of explosive devices, an armed standoff, a shooting and evacuations. Viewers were able to see some of it with their own eyes, but most of the information was secondhand, from tweets and phone calls and emailed dispatches from congressional reporters, many of them locked in the Capitol.
On cnn.com Brian Stelter wrote that, “Only later did it become clear that lawmakers feared for their lives; that some of the attackers were hunting for congressional leaders; that there could have been a massacre. The fuller videos that came out on Thursday and Friday provided much more detail. The Daily podcast from The New York Times played audio clips of rioters chanting ‘Where’s Mike Pence? Where’s Mike Pence? Where is Mike Pence? Find Mike Pence.’”
As Mitt Romney, a Republican senator, said after order was restored in the Capitol, “We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States.”
In a post on Facebook, Alexander Stille has written that “the argument that Trump and his Republican enablers have used to justify their effort to overturn the election is that polls show that three-quarters of Republicans told pollsters that they believe the election was stolen. (…). The circular logic of this is stunning. Trump and hundreds of Republican leaders run around the country telling people that the election was stolen, riddled with fraud and then when many of their supporters believe them, they offer it as proof that these claims are valid. Many people believe that the earth was created in six days but that doesn’t make it so.”
But while Trump and the Republican politicians know that all the stories about election fraud are complete bullshit and more than 60 lawsuits have been dismissed by Republican elected judges because they were found to be baseless, the angry rioters who stormed the Capitol and tens of millions of Trump supporters around the country truly believe that the election has been stolen.
President elect Joe Biden and many other Democratic politicians and political observers have spoken of the need for reconciliation, but it is unclear how this reconciliation may come about when vast numbers of Republicans and a majority of Trump supporters are convinced that the Democrats have stolen the election from them.
As a matter of fact, many security experts are concerned that there may be more violent demonstrations between now and Inauguration Day.
In a report for CNN Investigates, Rob Kuznia, Curt Devine, Scott Bronstein and Bob Ortega, wrote that, “Experts warn that the calls for violence have only intensified ahead of Inauguration Day, when President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as commander in chief.”
We must not underestimate the impact of last week’s violence that has seriously damaged America’s standing with the rest of the world. In the video released on Twitter, former California Governor and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger had this to say referring to the infamous “Kristallnacht”: “Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States; the broken glass was in the windows of the United States Capitol…..Our democracy is like the steel of this sword,” said Schwarzenegger,” holding up a sword and comparing it to the strength of American democracy. “The more it is tempered, the stronger it becomes.”