It’s the old Kent State syndrome of turning killers into heroes and blaming the victims. Recall in 1970 when the National Guard gunned down four Kent State University students who were protesting Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia. As James Michener wrote in his book on the Guard’s assault, the killings drew “one of the most virulent outpourings of community hatred in recent decades”–not against the Guard, but against the students. The virulence was reflected in day after day of letters to the editor of the local paper, where protesters were reduced to “know-nothing punks,” “creeps” and “mobs of dissidents.” The Guard’s killings were cheered. Four days after Kent State construction workers building the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan (the ironies never cease) attacked anti-war protesters shouting “All the way USA” and “Love it or leave it,” and with the tacit consent of police, provoked a riot that left more than 100 people injured.
There’s a direct line between what became known as the Hard-Hat Riots and last week’s assault on the Capitol. It wasn’t a few criminal messengers that disproportionately commandeered headlines on Jan. 6, but an innumerable mob of lawbreakers that had shifted from the Ellipse to the Capitol grounds with premeditation and intent to do one thing: attack democracy. What started as an exercise in First Amendment rights turned into a criminal assault that left five people dead, including a law enforcement officer, 58 police officers, many others injured, and now 50 legislatures and who knows how many individuals under threat of more violence, not least of it that instigated by our local elected thug, with his colleagues’ chronic and complicit indifference.
The mob can hide behind the First Amendment and use the foil of BLM marches all it wants. It’s piling chicanery on top of lies. It’s more Fox and One America newspeak cesspooling across social media. Call it a difference of opinion if you like. Making up facts and assaulting truth is a hallmark of the Trump cult. Like bacteria feeding on decomposing flesh, it cannot exist otherwise. But like our goon of a president, that pathology and its apologists, however numerous and enduring in Ponzi-schemed circuses like Florida, are as discredited as the nightmare of the last five years.commondreams Opinion | No, Open Sedition Is Not a First Amendment Right