The day of January 6th
Just a reminder
As I’ve reported previously, last January 6 I had taken some time off from work-from-home and was on my way to see what was shaking at the Capitol, just two miles away.
But down the block I was waylaid by a neighbor with medical issues — wheelchair bound, neurologically impaired, etc. — who needed my help getting him inside, then outside, then to call his brother, and so on. By the time I got it straightened out, an hour had passed and I figured: Well, I have a meeting at three to get ready for, I guess this one I’ll just have to miss. And I went back to my desk.
Thus was my witness to history averted. Had I known what would happen, I would have gone on ahead, and gotten on Microsoft Teams unprepared, or not gotten on at all.
But I didn’t know. Though I’d had every warning, my mind could not accept that he would really go through with it.
I had seen, in my coverage of protests by the MAGA people months before, where their heads were at — their weird suburban honky grievance, their end-times Jesus freak fatalism. I had written White House Scenes about Trump planning violence (Trump to Hawley: “I don’t want any bullshit, Dairy Queen. You’re gonna take this gun and you’re gonna bring it to the Senate and we’re gonna do just like I said, or you’re gonna have problems.”)
And on the morning of January 6 my Substack began, “Today we will witness the latest in a series of Tubby’s attempts to steal the election.”
So I could sort of see it coming, just as could anyone who knew how thoroughly Trump lacked any feeling for democracy or due process or anything else that got in his way. I knew he was a gangster who had blundered into the presidency; I had never expected, as had fools like Van Jones, that the office would or could elevate him. For four years I had watched Trump crudely paw the levers of power and bawl his bigot spiels, and from the moment his defeat was declared I saw him work the courts, work his rubes, work anything that could keep him in power.
But when the coup attempt actually happened, it was still a shock. Not because of Trump — I knew he was shit — nor because of his followers, in the streets and in the government — I knew they were shit, too.
I guess I still thought, despite everything, that America was exempt. We’d fucked up a lot, no question; our system was sclerotic; the Reagan fantasy of endless growth and endlessly rising productivity paid for with only a smile and a shoeshine had left millions of baffled marks rage-addled and prone to blame and attack those weaker than themselves.
But I never thought America, sweet land of liberty, would come to this. And yet we did. We have. And to this day most of the goon squadders think it was a great idea.
There was a lot of talk about “resistance” during the late administration. But if anything the need to resist is more urgent now. Today you’ll see a lot of shitheels trying to play January 6 off. My last remaining Trumpkin friend is on Facebook saying, and I quote, “A few windows were broken but when the crowd got inside all I saw was aimless milling around. They wandered the halls of Congress with no apparent purpose or design.” Thus, he maintained, it was just a harmless protest.
He was joined by some guy with a bowtie avatar who did the even-if tack that “the problem on January 6th was self-inflicted due to horrendous decisions made in the run-up by Mayor Bowser, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McConnell… and the resulting tragedy should, most properly, be blamed on THOSE THREE, and nobody else.”
This is a common trope among the Trumpkins, one of several fantasies they promulgate to explain away what happened — false flag, put up by FBI agents provocateur, Antifa, etc., take your pick, mix and match. But both the firsthand testimony and the video evidence make plain what the goon squad did and what they were trying to do, which is why fantasy is their only recourse.
But theirs is not the kind of quietist fantasy that helps outcasts cope with their marginalization. They’re activist fantasists. They want to force their fantasies into the official record because, as the original horrified responses of Republicans to the event (before expediency forced them to backtrack) showed, the truth makes plain to all sane people that these bastards must never be allowed back into position to try and overthrow the government again.
It gets exhausting sometimes resisting their bullshit. When they pull it you may be inclined say, you know what, forget it, you can have your delusions, I can’t be bothered.
But when these guys pitch me their bullshit I talk back. Not to reason with them, because they’re beyond that. When my MAGA friend and his bowtie buddy responded to my presentation of evidence with the standard-issue eyerolls, emojis, and dumb gifs, I told them: I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing this for whatever sane person might come across this conversation.
It’s little enough, though it may come to more hereafter. But for now the thing is to just tell the truth, unequivocally and every time. Tell your asshole friends, tell your asshole relatives, and when they squawk tell them facts is facts and fuck off. Remember, these people are not only wrong, they’re also a minority, not the Representatives of True America they cosplay but a diseased rump, and their only remaining hope is if everyone who knows better does a Chuck Todd, bothsides “well, let’s hear what the insurrectionists have to say” ass-presentation.
Don’t fall for it. Instead, tell them what Brad Pitt told Christoph Waltz at the end of Inglourious Basterds: I’m gonna give you something you can’t take off.