The response to yesterday’s attack on the Capitol building by Trump supporters has been met with the most common of excuses: “It wasn’t us.”
The blame, it is said, is on the terrorist group Antifa. They are said to have infiltrated what was otherwise a peaceful demonstration and rioted, all to paint the Trumpists – patriots, in their minds, fighting to free America from the shackles of the nebulous and all-encompassing Deep State – as the villains. There are three big problems with this: the Deep State as they’re describing it doesn’t exist, Antifa didn’t commit violence yesterday and nationalism isn’t the same as patriotism.
One thing must be made clear at the outset: while everyone who attended the rally yesterday in support of Trump was a believer in ridiculous conspiracy theory, they were not all rioters nor did they all support rioting. This runs counter to people’s desires for simplistic answers, but it’s important. Generalization fosters the “us or them” mentality that will keep people from being open to the truth, and that mentality has been used to promote the conspiracy.
Let’s take a look at how the theory is pushed, via Congressman Mo Brooks:
This is part of Brooks’ “evidence” that Antifa was behind the rally violence. The problem is that it’s evidence only that rumors were circulating before the rally… and that’s hardly a surprise; I heard those same rumors from my home in north Texas. The rumors of Antifa organization began minutes after Trump suggested, via tweet, that violence might be seen at the rally.
Those rumors, following so quickly on the heels of the President’s statement, bear every mark of a “CYA”, or “cover your ass”, effort. Once it became clear that the President had produced a signal that QAnon would take as a call to violence, his enablers wanted to create some distance from the likely action. If nothing happened, they could claim that they heroically pushed back against the efforts of Antifa. If there were riots, Antifa could be blamed.
It plays well to the people who view themselves as patriots who would never support an insurrection. They were told, weeks ago, that Antifa would be violent. It must be Antifa, because they support the rally – hell, many of them wanted to go, themselves – and they’d have never participated in such a riot.
The rumor is taken as evidence; it’s the same cheapjack con game which was used to sell the notion of voter fraud. And, once again, it fails upon examination of available evidence. Because there is evidence.
The man photographed in Nancy Pelosi’s office was positively identified as Richard Barnett, who had previously spoken to reporters during a “Stop the Steal” rally. Far from being Antifa, he was an organizer for pro-Trump events.
Jake Angeli, the “QAnon Shaman”, was very distinctive; wearing a furred headdress and with prominent arm tattoos, he was easily identified. He was also recognized as being at BLM rallies, which prompted many to use his image as proof of Antifa involvement. The problem is that he’d gone to BLM rallies holding a “Q sent me” sign and spent his time there counter-protesting against the marchers. A Trumpist, not Antifa.
The woman shot and killed by Capitol police yesterday was Ashli Babbitt, a 14 year Air Force veteran and QAnon believer. She tweeted on Tuesday about “The Storm”, a QAnon theory about how Trump was going to arrest all of the Deep State on the same day. That date was originally declared to be months ago, and it has been pushed forward every time the date passed with nothing happening.
Similar stories have unfolded for every person identified so far… and because many weren’t masked, there have been some quick identifications. If Antifa was present in large enough quantities to instigate and direct the action, there should be some evidence to support it. There is none, there are only the CYA rumors.
Ashli Babbit wasn’t Antifa, and the others attacking the Capitol weren’t Antifa. They were domestic terrorists, and they were simultaneously dupes… people, sometimes otherwise good people who fought to defend the country and who were neighbors and family members with big hearts and the best of intentions… who bought into asinine conspiracy theory. And now she’s dead, just like many who bought into the notion that COVID-19 was just like the flu. The people who convinced her that QAnon was anything but a completely idiotic theory have her blood on their hands, but I seriously doubt any of them care.