Why I'm Over January 6

Florida man Adam Johnson waves to a camera while committing multiple crimes. January 6, 2021

Win McNamee / Getty Images

American Impotence

A strange text from a friend: “They’re in the Capitol.”

What I saw when I navigated to Google News was not what I expected, though it was exactly what my friend described. They were in the Capitol. I watched it live. I listened to the report of Ashli Babbitt’s shooting and death. I saw the infamous photos of Adam Johnson carrying a podium, the Q-shaman, Jacob Chansley, with his face painted as if at a football game, the orange noose meant for Mike Pence. You don’t even need to look up these images, they are seared in your brains, too.

I knew what I was watching a year ago, and there has been little revelation over the past year. We have learned some things, sure. We know that Lauren Boebert led a large group of tourists through the Capitol after hours - allegedly. We know for certain that Boebert tweeted that Pelosi had left the building. We know those closest to Trump were texting him frantically to make the crowd go away. These may add context and detail to the events of the day, but they do not change anything. The images, videos, and pile of bodies in the aftermath make up the narrative.

I knew as I watched January 6 unfold, the Right would later deflect, defend, and deny. Their playbook is rote and uninspired. Antifa was to blame. No, the patriots were protesting a stolen election. No, there was no violence.

I knew the Left would be stuck trying to squeeze rational responses from the Right and that their efforts would be limp and ineffective. They are at least reliable in that regard.

Here we are a year later, firmly divided on what we want to be true about January 6. We deeply want it to be as bad as we could possibly imagine or we want it to be an insignificant yet justifiable event. I repeat: heap of dead bodies, a noose meant for Mike Pence, things going smash into windows. Trespassing, rioting, looting.

For months I have skimmed articles about the January 6 investigation that recount some previously unknown detail or provide an update into the investigation into January 6 and its counterpart obstruction. We are learning more about January 6, but nothing about the events has changed.

It’s not that I don’t know what to make of the January 6 riot - it’s that what I saw a year ago in video and photographs hasn’t changed. It is available for free or behind paywalls all over the internet. You can go look at the photographs and watch the videos. That’s the brilliance of the internet - for anything that must be seen to be believed, there is an archive somewhere online. The flipside is, of course, equally true. If you want to deny what you’re seeing with your own eyes, you can find an online charlatan to convince you that truth is not truth.

A barely literate man says words that lead people listening to believe that he will march with them to the Capitol Building to take back the country. He is lying and returns to his taxpayer subsidized residence. People will die. Then more people will commit suicide. People will argue long after this day whether or not he holds any responsibility. January 6, 2021

Associated Press

What did I see a year ago? Insurrection? Coup? Riot? False flag? No, none of these. I saw a dog that had for years been chasing a car and then finally caught it, teeth embedded in the bumper, and having no idea what to do with it. No plan, no follow-through, and utterly confused as to how it had gotten to this point.

It was apparent in the video subsequently released that showed rioters looting through binders left in the House and saying in desperation, “There’s got to be something here we can use against these bastards,” that what they were looking for - the something like a smoking gun - was as unknown to them as it remains to me. They had willingness, but lacking ability and intelligence they were left to tear through useless procedural binders.

Patriots erect gallows with an orange noose to hang Vice President Mike Pence, for whom they voted. January 6, 2021

Shay Horse / NurPhoto via Getty Images

That the rioters believed diabolical plans to steal an election would be collated, bound, and left behind in haste is a testament to how what we witnessed was exactly as it seemed: a half-baked, full-hearted effort to do an existential something. They managed to achieve exactly what you would expect: they did something that resulted in absolutely nothing. This much was apparent to anyone watching. The other thing that was achingly apparent was the sheer hypocrisy bleeding from every pixel on my computer.

Where were the tear gas cannons, pepper spray guns, riot shields, rubber bullets, National Guard, Proud Boys swinging their AR-15s to protect the Capitol Building and uphold peace? Where was the photo-op of Trump striding through a battered crowd of protesters and holding up the Constitution in front of the Capitol and condemning the rioters and looters to hell? Had we not just all lived through the same 2020 in which non-violent protests were met with cops plowing through crowds with their cruisers? Where children were pepper-sprayed and gassed? Where reporters and bystanders were assaulted by police?

Kevin Seefried unironically parades a symbol of treason in front of Vice President John Calhoun, ardent supporter of slavery and white rights. January 6, 2021

Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

Of course we lived through that same 2020. The same 2020 that saw a conspiracy to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer thwarted, state capitol buildings occupied by anti-maskers carrying guns, Rudy Giuliani sweating shoe-polish, Trump staffers booking the famed Four Seasons Landscaping Company for a presser.

As much as we saw abject violence against unarmed American protesters in 2020, we saw the abject idiocy and insincerity of the outraged Right. 2020 was the year of the right-wing propaganda film, “Antifa: Rise of the Black Flags”, in which director Dave Lugo’s brother “infiltrates” Portland’s CHAZ, then makes a lazy leap to how anti-fascists are terrorists. Will we see a “MAGA: Rise of the Neo-Confederacy” streaming on YouTube in 2022? Of course not.

I am tired of January 6 because one year later we have seen by the actions and public support of the new-Right that nothing that happened actually mattered, and we have seen from the Left that January 6 is the only thing that matters. January 6 isn’t a harbinger of things to come, January 6 is a testament to how things are - it was not a jumping-off point but an impact point where Trumpism landed with a splat. At this point we have nothing to gain from this ongoing autopsy - the corpse is eviscerated and drained and barren and rotten and useless.

Of course the Right is veering even further Right - venturing from boring obstructionism to oppression and fascism. Of course they think they’re above the law. Of course they will use their arsenal of guns to intimidate. Of course they will legislate us into submission. Of course they hate us.

But the flipside is equally depressing. Of course the Left will accomplish nothing. Of course they will betray citizens by ignoring widely popular Progressive issues in favor of pursuing the status quo. Of course, of course.

January 6 tells us exactly where we are as a nation, not where we are heading. 2021 ended with 437 deaths and 1,688 injuries from mass shootings - numbers we falsely compare to automotive deaths and then happily ignore. Guns are not going anywhere, violence is not ending, lies don’t stop, justice is dead. January 6 was a surprise, to be sure. But nothing revealed by its investigation is surprising. Another January 6 will not be a surprise. The unthinkable in the US has long been made reality - from independence to secession to civil war to abolition to civil rights to ongoing riots. The next unthinkable thing is just around the corner and we have - as always - no way to predict it or safeguard against it.

January 6 is America. Good luck sorting that.

Patriots beat officer Brian Sicknick to death. The narrative from the Right is that Leftists don't really care about this because he is a cop and Leftists hate cops. The truth is that a pro-Trump MAGA crowd beat a man to death. Trump later condemned the killing of rioter Ashli Babbitt by Capitol Police. January 6, 2021

Photo by US Capitol Police via Associated Press.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal hunkered in an aisle during the January 6, 2021 riots. Because nothing makes sense any more, she came under scrutiny for not wearing a mask and then contracting Covid-19 as a result of huddling together with other staff and members of Congress while they feared for their lives. January 6, 2021

Image Pool via ABC News

Rep. Dan Kildee tweets from the House Chamber after rioters breach the Capitol Building. January 6, 2021.