Guest Column: Insurrection Narrative Crumbles, Glenn Greenwald

As the Insurrection Narrative Crumbles, Democrats Cling to it …
Excerpt from Greenwald’s letter to unpaid subscribers, go here to subscribe

This is an important column from an intellectual who seems to accept much of the official story of the January 6 breach of the Capitol, yet exercises more critical thinking than the conventional ‘left’ journalist.

“And as Democrats and liberals now gear up to demand a new War on Terror, this one domestic in nature, it should be no surprise that the rhetorical leaders of their effort now are the same lowlife neocon and Rovian slanderers — Bill Kristol, David Frum, Steve Schmidt, Nicolle Wallace, Rick Wilson — who demonized everyone who questioned them as part of the first War on Terror as traitors and terrorist-lovers and subversives. It is not a coincidence that neocons are leading the way now as liberals’ favorite propagandists: they are the most skilled and experienced in weaponizing and exaggerating terrorism threats for political gain and authoritarian power.”

Twice in the last six weeks, warnings were issued about imminent, grave threats to public safety posed by the same type of right-wing extremists who rioted at the Capitol on January 6. And both times, these warnings ushered in severe security measures only to prove utterly baseless.

First we had the hysteria over the violence we were told was likely to occur at numerous state capitols on Inauguration Day. “Law enforcement and state officials are on high alert for potentially violent protests in the lead-up to Inauguration Day, with some state capitols boarded up and others temporarily closed ahead of Wednesday’s ceremony,” announced CNN. In an even scarier formulation, NPR intoned that “the FBI is warning of protests and potential violence in all 50 state capitals ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.”

The resulting clampdowns were as extreme as the dire warnings. Washington, D.C. was militarized more than at any point since the 9/11 attack. The military was highly visible on the streets. And, described The Washington Post, “state capitols nationwide locked down, with windows boarded up, National Guard troops deployed and states of emergency preemptively declared as authorities braced for potential violence Sunday mimicking the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump rioters.” All of this, said the paper, “reflected the anxious state of the country ahead of planned demonstrations.”

But none of that happened — not even close. The Washington Post acknowledged three weeks later:

Despite warnings of violent plots around Inauguration Day, only a smattering of right-wing protesters appeared at the nation’s statehouses. In Tallahassee, just five armed men wearing the garb of the boogaloo movement — a loose collection of anti-government groups that say the country is heading for civil war — showed up. Police and National Guard personnel mostly ignored them.

All over the country it was the same story. “But at the moment that Biden was taking the oath of office in Washington, the total number of protesters on the Capitol grounds in Topeka stood at five — two men supporting Trump and two men and a boy ridin’ with Biden,” reported The Wichita Eagle (“With Kansas Capitol in lockdown mode, Inauguration Day protest fizzles). “The protests fizzled out after not many people showed up,” reported the local Florida affiliate in Tallahassee. “The large security efforts dwarfed the protests that materialized by Wednesday evening,” said CNN, as “state capitols and other cities remained largely calm.”

Indeed, the only politically-motivated violence on Inauguration Day was carried out by Antifa and anarchist groups in Portland and Seattle, which caused some minor property damage as part of anti-Biden protests while they “scuffled with police.” CNN, which spent a full week excitedly hyping the likely violence coming to state capitols by right-wing Trump supporters, was forced to acknowledge in its article about their non-existence that “one exception was Portland, where left-wing protesters damaged the Democratic Party of Oregon building during one of several planned demonstrations.”

Perhaps the most significant blow to the maximalist insurrection/coup narrative took place inside the Senate on Thursday. Ever since January 6, those who were not referring to the riot as a “coup attempt” — as though the hundreds of protesters intended to overthrow the most powerful and militarized government in history — were required to refer to it instead as an “armed insurrection.”

This formulation was crucial not only for maximizing fear levels about the Democrats’ adversaries but also, as I’ve documented previously, because declaring an “armed insurrection” empowers the state with virtually unlimited powers to act against the citizenry. Over and over, leading Democrats and their media allies repeated this phrase like some hypnotic mantra:

The argument then, and the argument now, is that the threat was being deliberately inflated and exaggerated, and fears stoked and exploited, both for political gain and to justify the placement of more and more powers in the hands of the state in the name of stopping these threats. That is the core formula of authoritarianism — to place the population in a state of such acute fear that it acquiesces to any assertion of power which security state agencies and politicians demand and which they insist are necessary to keep everyone safe.

There is, relatedly, a massive political benefit from convincing the population that the opponents and critics of those in power do not merely hold a different ideology but are coup plotters, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists. That is the same political benefit that accrued from trying to persuade the population that adversaries of the Democratic Party were treasonous Kremlin agents. The more you can demonize your opponents as something monstrous, the more political power you can acquire.

And as Democrats and liberals now gear up to demand a new War on Terror, this one domestic in nature, it should be no surprise that the rhetorical leaders of their effort now are the same lowlife neocon and Rovian slanderers — Bill Kristol, David Frum, Steve Schmidt, Nicolle Wallace, Rick Wilson — who demonized everyone who questioned them as part of the first War on Terror as traitors and terrorist-lovers and subversives. It is not a coincidence that neocons are leading the way now as liberals’ favorite propagandists: they are the most skilled and experienced in weaponizing and exaggerating terrorism threats for political gain and authoritarian power.

To access the original column and/or subscribe to Glenn Greenwald, go here.

 

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