They were not simply thugs or a mob. These were not some drunken fools who, after a concert or a sporting event, randomly wrecked buildings and cars, and attacked some people including each other. This was a largely sober political group of white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, MAGAts, and other assorted terrorists who had a publicly stated political platform and plan, however preposterous, to carry it out. They were in Washington, D.C., for a “revolution”, to prevent Congress from officially counting the Electoral College votes and declaring Joe Biden as President-elect and Kamala Harris as Vice President-elect.
In other words, they were explicitly there on January 6, 2021, the day Congress is mandated to carry out this task, to overturn the election results, to disenfranchise millions of people, and in essence to override the Constitution of the United States of America.
There is only one historically and politically accurate name for such people, for such gangs, for such a movement. They are fascists, in the tradition, sometimes acknowledged and sometimes not, of Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, and that ilk. They exist to destroy any type of democracy, however limited or flawed that system may be.
They strive to replace a democratic form of government with a naked, terrorist dictatorship of the most authoritarian, most racist, most misogynist, most xenophobic, most anti-working class, most anti-immigrant, most anti-LGBTQ, and most anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim forces who represent and serve the worst and most predatory financial and corporate parasites.
Many have called what was attempted on January 6, 2021, a coup or an insurrection. That is only partially true, as coups and insurrections can take place for any number of reasons and to carry out any number of agendas. This mostly white crowd specifically opposed the Black Lives Matter slogan and movement, with some even carrying Confederate flags. They were there to try to keep Trump in office and to support his brutally racist edicts.
Their chief goal was, clearly, to keep Trump in power as a dictator. Trump is their Führer, their Il Duce, with red MAGA baseball caps and blue jeans replacing the brown and black shirts of old.
When some police did try to stop their rampage, after they initially faced little resistance and even assistance from them, the fascist gang acted like any other terrorist outfit and fought them.
Many have noted that fascism in America would not come with a German accent, but, in a quote whose origins are murky, “it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” We saw plenty of those symbols displayed January 6, 2021. We saw the same thing with Senator Joe McCarthy generations ago, and with the Tea Party of more recent memory. And we see it once more intruding into American civilization, with faux anti-elitist and sometimes even anti-capitalist rhetoric.
It is essential that this historical connection be made. Hitler and the Nazis did not succeed all at once or the first time they tried to seize power. Their infamous Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 was a spectacular disaster, ten years before the Nazi dictatorship was established. Hitler and his boys were even convicted of major crimes and sent to prison for this coup attempt, but then had their sentences reduced by sympathetic officials and allowed to replenish their fascist movement.
What will the punishment be for these would-be American Hitlers, for these failed coup plotters 98 years after the Beer Hall Putsch? Will they too be slapped on the wrists and permitted to continue their movement? Will they find enablers at various levels of American government who, out of sympathy or plain naivete, will treat them gently? Or will the door of justice be firmly shut on them to block their efforts and nip their cancerous actions and movement before it metastasizes to the whole society?
Many of the talking heads and televised pundits said they were shocked by the events of January 6, 2021, that they didn’t understand why Trump was encouraging if not directly assisting them. They were stunned that this could happen in America. And they thus demonstrated that their grasp of history was utterly deficient.
Fascism and the fascists, you see, know no limits. They cannot be appeased. They cannot be reasoned with. They will continue on their path, even if it is self-destructive, as Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union proved to be. They will not stop but can only be stopped by those who are determined to fight them. And this generation of fascists is no different from its predecessors in that regard.
We heard lots of chatter about a “racial reckoning” after last year’s massive anti-racist and anti-police terror rallies following the murder of George Floyd. The events of January 6, 2021, were, to cite a phrase more commonly used in the 1960s, the white backlash to that, as well as to the presidency of Barack Obama and the coming vice presidency of Kamala Harris. Like other backlashes, including the destruction of the gains made during Reconstruction in the 19th century, and the attempts at reversing the gains of the Civil Rights and Black Liberation movements of the 20th century, the white backlash of the 21st century wants to destroy every democratic gain it can, in this case going back to the formation of the American republic itself.
It is not predetermined or inevitable which side will win these battles, or at what cost. That depends on what is done about these movements, and also what is done to their enablers, including the Trump administration and their key supporters, who are also responsible for this entire situation.
The incoming Biden-Harris administration faces a basketful of crises as soon as it takes office. We all know this. Now they must take forceful steps to stamp out the fascist threat. These deluded and violent gangs are not going to disappear into the sky, even though many in their unmasked mob will soon be felled by Covid-19. They must face the highest punishments allowed by the law, and not just a token few. Their collaborators, including those currently in public office and in law enforcement, and their financial backers must be publicly revealed and sanctioned. And their lies must be refuted at every opportunity.
This is really a task for all of us, for all who oppose fascism. But it must be carried out responsibly and with mass popular support, unlike the adventures undertaken by those in the alt-left.
Various assassins throughout history have faced the harshest possible retribution. What should the punishment be for those who tried to assassinate democracy?
Yes, their plans were ill-thought out. They only used a limited number of weapons and were repelled after a few hours, however tense. What they did also likely marked the end of the Trump era as president, one way or another. Their “revolution” was a spectacular and televised failure. But minus the TV, so was the Beer Hall Putsch of Hitler and his gangs. And we understand that the failed Beer Hall Putsch served as a training exercise, a sort of dress rehearsal for what was to come.
The time to act is now, while we still can. We may not be so lucky the next time.
This is a stirring clip from the acclaimed 1961 film “Judgment at Nuremberg” about the trial of Nazi leaders.
This clip is known as “The Guilt of the World Scene”.
Eddie Goldman — No Holds Barred