Paradkar: The tens of thousands of white people who rioted at the U.S. Capitol were reclaiming white supremacy

Pretty evident from watching the mob yesterday, and the double standard of relative police inaction compared to the BLM Washington protest:

Let it be remembered that it was white people who were allowed to breach the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress, white people who broke the building’s glass windows and rummaged senators’ desks, white people who laid violent siege to the seat of American democracy, white people whose attacks led to Vice-President Mike Pence being evacuated and white people’s violence that put the senate and house chambers on lockdown.

Tens of thousands of white people. Armed white people. Confederate flag-waving, QAnon poster-bearing white people. 

Mostly maskless rioters on a day when the U.S. hit 21 million cases of COVID-19..

They weren’t just white people engaging in democratic protest. “An insurrection,” president-elect Joe Biden called it. 

Whom are we kidding? What we witnessed today was an assertion of white power, a Trump-pumped MAGA crowd staking claim to power without care for facts or truth. 

Depraved racists recreating the death of George Floyd as crudely as you can imagine on the steps of a D.C. church that unfurled a Black Lives Matter banner. 

We witnessed the U.S. brought to the point of anarchy by white people whose beliefs are so mired in falsehood that even an advocacy group funded by a Koch brother — one of the villainous billionaires who funded climate change denial — disagreed with their attempts to delegitimize the election. 

This was a reclaiming of white supremacy because white people are the only group that can spin a fake grievance into violent chaos and not face bodily harm.

Imagine if they were a crowd of Black people. 

A crowd of visibly Muslim people.

Indigenous peoples. Peacefully occupying their own territories.

We don’t need to imagine any of it, really. 

We’ve witnessed that reality many times over. Racist chants, batons, violent arrests, water cannon, tear gas, bullets. A hail of bullets that mainstream narratives would find ways to justify. They were damaging private property! They burned a police station! Why can’t they be more civil?

Those protesters would be agitating for basic human rights. Right to their land. Right to not be murdered by police. Right to a clean planet. Wednesday’s rioters were fighting not for the right to live on equal terms but on unequal ones that would ensure they retained supremacy. 

This violent insurrection has been in the works for weeks. Law enforcement may or may not have been prepared for reasons known only to them. Some did their job. Others participated. Cops were recorded taking selfies with the white throngs. Cops were seen gently opening the barricades to allow the crowd to stream onto the Capitol grounds.

Where’s the need to burn down police stations when you’re all as one?

This is not a double standard. This is the standard. 

When mostly Black athletes knelt respectfully during the national anthem to protest the unequal treatment of Black people, Trump called them “sons of bitches,” saying they “disrespected the flag.”

What a lot of hot air and baloney. An image of a white intruder Wednesday sitting inside the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with his boots up on her desk, made the rounds on social media. Trump hailed people like him and the rioters as “great patriots.”

When the rioters chanted “Whose capitol? Our capitol?” they were staking a claim to a fundamental truth in America: that the direction of violence has always flowed from white to Black and all the shades in between. 

White supremacy has been the continuous thread weaving through the history of democracy in the U.S. (and Canada) from its founding to the present. It’s ever present and its proponents — whether overt or sheathed in politeness — know it is theirs to evoke. 

And still there is that tone of surprise among media commentators. “This is not America” “This is not how we function” “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic.” That last statement from former president George W. Bush, the man who butchered Iraq in the name of democracy.

The violence of white innocence continually excels itself — and exhausts the rest of us. 



About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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