My suggestions to anyone hyperventilating over the protestors that entered the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, are first to stick your head in a bucket of ice water and wait for it all to boil away; and then, read and consider the following definitions, which clarify what that event was not. Here’s a spoiler: it was NOT a siege, an insurrection, a coup, terrorism, or treason. Compare the actual facts of what happened that day to these common definitions.
What is a “Siege”?
- “a military blockade of a city or fortified place to compel it to surrender” – Merriam Webster
- “the surrounding of a place by an armed force in order to defeat those defending it: ‘The siege of Mafeking lasted for eight months.’ ‘The soldiers laid siege to (= started a siege of) the city.’” – Cambridge English Dictionary
- “A military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling those inside to surrender. ‘Verdun had withstood a siege of ten weeks’” . . . An operation in which a police or other force surround a building and cut off supplies, with the aim of forcing an armed person to surrender. ‘Two cult members have died so far in the four-day siege’”– Oxford English Dictionary
What is an “Insurrection”?
- “an organized attempt by a group of people to defeat their government and take control of their country, usually by violence.” – Cambridge English Dictionary
- “a violent uprising by a group or movement acting for the specific purpose of overthrowing the constituted government and seizing its powers. An insurrection occurs where a movement acts to overthrow the constituted government and to take possession of its inherent powers.” [Younis Bros. & Co. v. Cigna Worldwide Ins. Co., 899 F. Supp. 1385, 1392-1393 (E.D. Pa. 1995)] — USLegal.com
What is a “Coup”?
- “a sudden illegal, often violent, taking of government power, especially by part of an army.” – Cambridge English Dictionary
- “Coup d’état, also called coup, the sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group. The chief prerequisite for a coup is control of all or part of the armed forces, the police, and other military elements.” – Britannica
- “A coup attempt includes illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive.” – Global instances of coups from 1950 to 2010: A new dataset, Jonathan M Powell & Clayton L Thyne, Journal of Peace Research, 2011
What is Terrorism?
- “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents”. – Title 22 Chapter 38 U.S. Code § 2656f
There are many other definitions of terrorism, so everyone can probably find one to suit their purpose or prejudice, but one of the more thoughtful and reputable discussions is found in Britannica, excerpted here:
“Terrorism, the calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. Terrorism has been practiced by political organizations with both rightist and leftist objectives, by nationalistic and religious groups, by revolutionaries, and even by state institutions such as armies, intelligence services, and police.”
“. . . Revolutionary terrorism is arguably the most common form. Practitioners of this type of terrorism seek the complete abolition of a political system and its replacement with new structures. Modern instances of such activity include campaigns by the Italian Red Brigades, the German Red Army Faction (Baader-Meinhof Gang), the Basque separatist group ETA, the Peruvian Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), and ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant; also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS]). Subrevolutionary terrorism is rather less common. It is used not to overthrow an existing regime but to modify the existing sociopolitical structure. Since this modification is often accomplished through the threat of deposing the existing regime, subrevolutionary groups are somewhat more difficult to identify. An example can be seen in the ANC and its campaign to end apartheid in South Africa.”
What is “Treason” (a term that is also widely misused by conservatives)?
- “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” — Article III, Section 3, U.S. Constitution.
- “The Founding Fathers carefully delineated the crime of treason in Article III of the U.S. Constitution, narrowly defining its elements and setting forth stringent evidentiary requirements. . . The Treason Clause applies only to disloyal acts committed during times of war.” — https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/treason
So what was it, at the Capitol on January 6, 2021? It was not any of those things; nor was it an armed takeover, nor even the kind of illegal occupation that local governments tolerated for weeks last year in Seattle and elsewhere. It was, to a still unknown extent, provoked and encouraged by agent provocateurs of the left, who knew exactly what would result, and how they could exploit it, and by agent provocateurs of splinter groups on the right who seem to either worship chaos for its own sake, and/or are too clueless to have understood the consequences of their action. From the perspective of the thousands of pro-Trump protestors in D.C. that day, it was politically stupid, and criminal. Criminal prosecutions, based on specific and applicable U.S. statutes, are underway.
When searching for motivations, one should always ask: who benefits? Did President Trump benefit? Did his supporters, or any subset of them benefit (including the 99% of protestors present in D.C. that day, who did not enter the capitol)? Did Americans concerned about the fairness and legality of the November, 2020 election benefit? The answer to all those is an obvious and resounding “NO!”
The only people who benefited are the politicians and media pundits who are turning our nation’s capital, and soon our nation, into a police state with their created boogeyman of “far right extremists”, “white supremacists”, and “domestic terrorists”. When you hear and see that continued refrain, in broadcast, print, online, and on the floors of Congress, remember this quote, and who said it (if you don’t know who, look it up):
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
What was January 6, 2021?
It was our Reichstag Fire.