God's Mob

It's not how far they'll go to make their fantasy real, it's how far they'll get

As I frequently say, the main thing keeping rightwingers from total domination of our politics is that normal people find them repulsive. The most successful cons try to look normal because they know that even when voters find their ideas darkly intriguing, they get creeped out on contact with the kind of people who would enthusiastically peddle them. That’s why Ronald Reagan went over so well — he was like an old-Hollywood skinsuit for Bircherism. (I’m convinced Sarah Palin couldn’t quite get in the door, even with her pretty good Reba McEntire act, due to sexism. Trump does a version of “all of them, Katie” every fifteen minutes, but it pretty well killed Palin as a national figure.)

The folks at Saturday’s Jericho March in Washington, D.C. were not wearing their normalcy skinsuits. The event advertised itself as a wishful-thinking reenactment of the Battle of Jericho in which Joshua and his Israelites called down the walls of the wicked city of Canaan; its promo video suggested that if enough of the righteous came and really believed, as kids were once encouraged to do for Tinker Bell, then Jesus would bring down Washington, D.C. and restore Trump to the golden throne. “Now it is our moment,” the narrator intoned over heroic music, “to save our Republic and protect our freedoms from the corrupt and destructive forces at work.” There would even be a pre-rally march seven times around the Capitol, mimicking Joshua, which if it did its work would render the rally a joyous after-party.

The Jericho March turned out to be sort of a mash-up of the explicitly religious “Return” event I attended last summer and last month's less godly Million MAGA March. (It was to my reckoning smaller than either, maybe a few thousand souls — the hardiest of the hardcore, and of course largely unmasked.) Among the religious elements I saw on the Mall was a preacher snarling about Jericho (“and the SHEEP’S FACE peeled BACK like a BANANA and revealed the FACE of a LION!”), a woman singing “Ave Maria,” and a presentation of an Our Lady of Guadalupe icon to an absent Melania Trump. (Like the Return congregants, the crowd was mostly holy-rolling Protestants but these days such people endorse a sort of fascist ecumenicalism, where even Catholics and Jews are allowed so long as they associate liberals with the Devil.)

The apotheosis of this was a speech by the Catholic schismatic archbishop and idol of Opus Dei freaks Carlo Maria Vigano: “The children of darkness have sought to subvert the outcome of the presidential elections," he intoned, but Jesus is “the ‘Supreme Court’ to which we can and must appeal, that the Will of God may be fulfilled, and Truth may triumph over falsehood.” (This was too much even for crypto-fascist ex-Catholic Rod Dreher, whom events have pushed into the hilarious position of old lefty professors in the 60s crying “It’s your means I question!”)

There was also Trumpism that referred less overtly to religion, but had the weird quasi-religious glow that most such encomiums have these days. Thomas Speciale of Veterans for Trump, for example, after portraying Michael Flynn as a Christ figure betrayed by a swamp full of Judases (“And then your own government conspires against you! You see General Flynn was known to the Deep State... because what he did was he spoke truth to power”), bade, like John the Baptist, his brethren turn their devotion to one who was yet greater:

We have marched against evil to bring down the walls of sin and iniquity that are hiding in these buildings! But there is one man right down the street that we gotta show our love for! So go from here today and join Vets for Trump, and when you leave I want you to go to the White House and tell Donald Trump that we love him!

Try to imagine this kind of wounded worship offered to any other President.

That was at the Mall — down at Liberty Plaza the crowd was slightly rowdier, and the sound much worse. Not that it mattered; I saw them get pumped up by a guy who looked like Kingpin from Daredevil who basically just waved his stubby arms and screamed and gargled, with words and phrases like GOD BLESS AMERICA and TRUMP occasionally popping out of the glottal froth. (Women’s voices were even harder to make out — I guess the sound engineer knew what frequencies commanded the interest of this group.) And they howled to the heavens and took pictures when the Presidential chopper Marine One flew low overhead:

There were also calls to violence — holy violence, like that which the Lord visited on Jericho, though if men had to step in for Jesus and do it for Him that was okay too. You may have heard about Alex Jones saying “Satanic pedophile, globalist” Joe Biden would be removed from power “one way or another,” stepping just up to the line but no further, the way a guy who lost a big defamation case will do.

But there were less well-known nuts screaming for war and promising to disrupt the Inauguration before and during the March, too. And of course Trump’s brownshirts, the Proud Boys, came to DC simply to do violence, and achieved it; you will no doubt see news reports bothsiding it, but anyone who saw the butched-up bully-boys rampaging in the streets know what they came there for.

The Jericho Marchers were not fazed by the previous day’s Supreme Court decision putting the kibosh on Texas’ delirious suit against the election results — which, I remind you, was supported in writing by a large majority of House Republicans and 18 Republican state attorneys general. What care they for the “norms” of princes and potentates? In their world the walls of Washington actually did come down; Trump won even though the Electoral College confirms Biden’s victory today, and Trump will still be president after Biden is inaugurated on January 20 — though at the same time they will scream about Biden’s mismanagement of the country he is not really leading, just as they scream about Soros and JFK Jr. and Q and the other figures in their fantasy world. Which would be fine if that fantasy also walled them off from the rest of us; but like the schizophrenics one sees in the streets they will inevitably, when incensed, use such real-world strength as they have — legislative, judicial, or goon squad — to lash out at their perceived enemies, which in their delirium (as one can see in the current internecine Republican struggles) could be anybody within arms’ reach.