What in the World: For whom the bell tolls

It is heartwarming to see the Left denouncing mob violence against federal buildings and their inhabitants. Seven months later than I would have preferred but, hey, we are all human.  

My causticity now spent, welcome back! Some stuff is going on: Winter Term, the president — wretched be his name — is facing a second impeachment for reasons, and the pandemic remains as near as a mouth-breathing second-grader asking to play games on your phone. To the first, may your studies be blessed and your professors gracious and you likewise to them. To the second, we will be discussing it in a bit. And to the third, keep doing your mask thing. Onward! 

In case you have been living under a rock — a cliched expression and one needlessly discriminatory toward informed rock-dwellers, it is true — the President of the U.S., Mr. Donald J. Trump, has been accused of inciting a riot that stormed the steps of the Capitol building in Washington D.C. The rioters were attempting to prevent the certification of the electoral college vote, which would officially confirm Joe Biden as the next president. When the perpetrators were finally repulsed, five Americans lay dead — a police officer and four rioters. This was a tragedy, start to finish.  

To put my thoughts succinctly, Trump should be impeached for his hand in this, mobs are jackassery personified, and the Left cannot help but cast this damnable situation as worse than it was for their partisan benefit.  

Yes, Trump should be impeached for his role in this event. While I am sympathetic to the argument that Trump did not technically incite a riot — which would require him explicitly saying, “Go mine followers and assault the Capitol, take up arms against your elected officials, and kill my traitorous vice-president” — I do think we should hold our president to a higher standard than “Did he or she meet the legal threshold for incitement?”  

Furthermore, because impeachment is a matter of political penalty, not a legal standard, and the assault was directed at Congress acting in its constitutionally-mandated role to confirm the president-elect, it seems to me that Congress should probably exercise its constitutionally-mandated power to check the ever-loving dickens out of the sitting president. I have no patience for politicians hiding behind mobs, to enact the desires of the aforementioned politicians. This sort of nonsense is despicable, and I think it would be ruinous were there not ramifications before Trump leaves office. Congress should establish a precedent that when a mob of a president’s adherents keeps them from doing their job, the president can expect to receive his walking papers forthwith. Let it be so.  

Let us then turn our attention to the mob itself. I have a very simple view: mobs are bad. A hot take to be sure. Be they ideologically similar to me or not, I am at best wary of them and at worst I despise them. But what do I mean by a mob? After all, there are many large protests, marches and demonstrations that involve no discernible violence and bring light to worthy topics. These situations would fall in my “wary of” category. Though the purpose may be noble, I think any ideologically homogenous group larger than three increases the capacity for human error and asininity. This is a linear concept; every individual added after three increases the likelihood of derailment and idiocy. And a protest becomes a mob as soon as criminal actions among the group are not corrected by the group, but instead affirmed and exacerbated.  

For example, over the summer, I attended the Portland protests as an observer and writer for National Review. My purpose there was to record what I saw, simple as. During my second night at the protests, there was a fire started in the street in front of the federal courthouse. There were a few speakers around the fire, and while I don’t suggest starting conflagrations willy-nilly in public roadways, it was more or less fine in the offing. 

However, when the fire got low and there was not readily available fuel, a few of the group started tearing plywood from storefronts opposite the park. The group accepted this. It is at this moment I posit the protest now becomes a mob, even if it is a relatively stationary one. “But it is just plywood,” you might say. Do you know how outrageously expensive plywood is? Not to mention the time and tools required to affix it to a storefront; a store making the owner’s family no money because of these events, by the way. The night wore on and similar actions took place, never to be corrected. I failed and still fail, to see how larceny and destruction of property advance the idea that the lives of Black people matter. Mobs rarely do anything other than harden the public’s heart to the purported cause of the rabble.  

But let us return to the shmucks in D.C. While I abhor mobs generally, those that assemble to inhibit the operation of our government at delicate, Constitution-required junctures deserve an extra helping of disapprobation. Some of my friends who are of the Right have asked me, “How is this any different than what the Left was doing in Portland and Seattle?”  An interesting counter, but I would say our federal government can continue without a courthouse during the evenings from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. What we cannot have is our representatives, senators and vice-president — acting in his role as President of the Senate — brutalized and killed while conducting their duties. Intent and consequences matter here. Portland violence does not permit D.C. violence; they were both despicable but the latter was all that much more so.  

Now for the Left. Why can they not observe something abhorrent and refrain from fictionalizing it to even better fit their narrative? Is the truth not advantageous enough for their rhetoric? An officer slain by a fire extinguisher to the head, four rioters dead, gas and flashbangs used to devastating effect and hand-to-hand combat in the halls of the Capitol are not hallmarks of permissive security. 

The Capitol police officers acquitted themselves well, and it is a shame they are being misrepresented as inept. They held the line, outnumbered and without sufficient back-up from the National Guard. Where was their backup? Unarmed and disparate due to a Jan. 5 edict from Democratic Mayor Bowser of D.C., a day before the riot.  

The Left pulls this fiction-making nonsense time and again around legitimately serious events, and it hardly ever redounds to their benefit. But cheap, sugary political point-making, ephemeral as it is, maintains its hold as the choice diet among the opinion-making classes. Why is it this way? The truth takes too long to chew, and they may not like all parts of it, methinks.  

With that, I wish you all the very best start to the term. Be well and take care. If you agree or disagree with anything I have written here, you can contact me anytime at abell@lawrence.edu. Cheers!