Road to the Riot House

Early last week, I started writing a post about the Christmas Day Bomber in Nashville, Anthony Warner, and the pharmacist in Wisconsin, Steven Brandenburg, who destroyed more than 500 doses of Covid-19 vaccine. 

I’d been researching both men and the conspiracies they believed that led them to such acts of violence (because destroying vaccine is absolutely violent), when last Wednesday, a mob of seditious traitors stormed the Capitol building in Washington D.C. as Congress met to certify the electoral college vote of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. 

I was especially worried about Wednesday, January 6th, because of the high-profile senate runoff in Georgia between Kelly Loeffler and the Rev. Raphael Warnock/David Perdue and Jon Ossoff. The race would determine which political party controlled the Senate, which is unusual in and of itself, but it was even more consequential because of the widespread and baseless conspiracy theories regarding voter fraud.

The crowds gathered, just like they’d been planning to do for weeks, at the behest of President Trump. The MAGA Cult descended upon Washington D.C., because the PRESIDENT asked them to. 

On its face, that request could seem fairly benign. I guess. Maybe. At least, I understand why someone might argue that asking supporters to come to D.C. is not the same thing as asking supporters to storm the Capitol Building. Regardless of belief system, it is the right of Americans to protest, to peaceably assemble. 

Of course, Trump didn’t merely ask his supporters to come to D.C. He actually walked outside and spoke to them. There was a stage. There were huge, blue banners on either side of the (massive) stage that said, “SAVE AMERICA MARCH!” 

The rally was organized by a 501c(4) group known as Women for America First (insert gagging and puking noises here) and chaired by a woman named Amy Kremer, who has been deeply entrenched in far-right politics for more than a decade. 

Here’s the Facebook page for Women for America First. 

If you visit their page, you’ll see that they make absolutely no mention of the riot at the Capitol. It’s like it never even happened. 

Kremer’s personal Facebook page looks pretty much the same way, skipping from January 9th, when she updated her profile picture to a zoomed in crop of Trump’s face, all the way to January 3rd. There are no (public) posts in between.  

Every speaker at the rally that day, including Kremer, whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Don Jr., when it was his turn to speak, said, “This isn’t their Republican Party anymore! This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party!”

You know, dictator stuff. 

Rudy Giuliani said, “Who hides evidence? Criminals hide evidence!” and “Let’s have trial by combat!” He also spent quite a bit of time talking about the “rigged” Dominion voter systems, and he was accompanied by some guy who explained to the crowd how the vote in Georgia had actually been stolen the night before in the runoff election, just like it had been stolen in November. 

Finally, Trump comes out on stage. He essentially starts his speech by bashing the media and telling his crowd that the media will never cover them fairly, which goes on for minutes. Then he says, “They rigged the election. They rigged it like they’ve never rigged it before.” 

Other quotes:

“The election was stolen by the radical Democrats and the fake news media.”

“We will never give up. We will never concede. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”

“Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that’s what this is all about.”

“We will not let them silence your voices. We aren’t gonna let that happen.”

“They’ve used the pandemic as a way of defrauding the people of a proper election.”

“We’re gonna have someone in there who should not be in there, and our country is going to be destroyed.”

“Our election was so corrupt, that in the history of this country, we’ve never seen anything like it.”

“We’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

“We fight. We fight like hell. And if we don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

“We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try to give…the weak Republicans…the boldness they need to take back our country. 

That’s exactly what Trump’s mob did. They walked to the Capitol. They lingered outside for a while, and then, almost suddenly, the broke through barricades and began to storm the steps. 

And then they got inside the building, leaving absolute chaos in their wake. 

I watched it happen on live television, just like nearly everyone else in the country (and probably the world). I sat there on the couch all day, intermittently infuriated and devastated.

Lots of people saw this coming. We were shocked, but we weren’t surprised. That seems to be the running sentiment of anyone who’s been paying attention to the emergence of online extremism to the mainstream over the last four years, and especially since the election. 

Every single blog post I’ve written here, at Tiny Blue Dots, is about this extremism and the dangers of it, and come on—there had been chatter online for weeks about the “protest” in D.C. on the 6th. It wasn’t a secret that thousands of Trump supporters planned to converge on the Capitol.

We already know that 5 people have died as a result of the riot. One of them was a Capitol police officer named Brian Sicknick, who succumbed to the injuries he sustained while trying to control the crowd. He was just doing his job. It is heartbreaking, and it is infuriating, that a mob of people who were literally carrying “thin blue line” flags murdered a police officer. Another office involved in the Capitol riot died on Sunday, January 10th, but no real information has been released about that death, although some media sources are claiming he died of suicide. 

The 4 other people killed were rioters themselves—55-year-old Kevin Greeson from Alabama, 50-year-old Benjamin Philips from Pennsylvania, 34-year-old Roseanne Boyland from Georgia, and finally, 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt from California. 

Babbitt’s death has been the highest profile of them all, as she was fatally shot by a Capitol police officer, and the shooting was captured on video. It’s been widely shared on the internet and on television. I won’t link the video here. It’s there if you want to find it, but while I am going to go into a little detail about her life (and death), I don’t think sharing video of that death is appropriate here. I don’t relish her death or the deaths of anyone who died on Wednesday, and before I write anything else, I want to make that perfectly clear. These deaths were senseless and avoidable. 

Ashli Babbitt had become an avid follower of QANON conspiracy theories over the years. According to multiple sources, she was one of those people who had a lot of feelings and when she got it in her head to do something/believe something, it became near obsession. Honestly, I can identify with that, as someone with a bit of an obsessive personality myself. 

You can see the bottom of a QANON patch on her jacket

However, her descent into the world of online conspiracy theories didn’t happen overnight. We all know by now that Babbitt was an Air Force veteran, who’d spent 14 years in the military. 

After being discharged, Babbitt worked for a nuclear powerplant for a couple of years in California. After that, she opened up her own pool supply store, according to an article in The New York Times.

Ashli Babbitt struggled in her personal life and her professional life. According to the same NYT article, her husband’s former girlfriend filed multiple complaints about Babbitt and had a restraining order against her for stalking. In 2017, Babbitt and her pool company were sued for $71,000 for failing to repay a loan. 

Even though sources say she voted for Obama both times, she eventually found her place in politics when Donald Trump entered the arena. She became a fervent supporter, and as so often happens with Trump’s most passionate loyalists, she also began to believe and espouse much of the far-right wing rhetoric that has become commonplace since 2016. 

You can see in this picture of her from January 6th, the “Q” emblem on her jacket. The very bottom part of the patch (or button or sticker—I can’t tell) is a fragment of the common Q phrase, “Where we go one, we go all.”

After storming the Capitol Building, Babbitt was shot in the neck by Capitol police after she was hoisted up by two men, and she attempted to climb through one of the windows that had been broken by her fellow rioters.

She was pronounced dead later that day at the hospital. 

The last thing she wrote on Twitter was this, on January 5th: “Nothing can stop us. They can try and try and try but the storm is here, and it is descending upon D.C. in less than 24 hours…dark to light!”

The Storm. 

If you’ve read my previous blog post about QANON, you know what that is. 

Ashli Babbitt died bloody, wrapped in a Trump flag, because she truly believed that Wednesday, January 6th, was going to be a day of reckoning. 

Babbitt believed, much like “Elizabeth from Knoxville,” who claimed she was maced while rioting inside the Capitol (who some believe was holding an onion in her towel during the video, while others say it was a piece of ice), replied to a reporter who asked her what the hell she was doing in the Capitol in the first place: “We’re storming the Capitol! It’s a revolution!”

Ashli Babbitt and Elizabeth from Knoxville certainly weren’t the only two people who believed the day in D.C. would become the day they Stopped the Steal. Thousands of people in D.C. last Wednesday believed this lie. Now many of them are being arrested and charged in federal court for their participation in the disgusting act of sedition we all witnessed on national television. 

Some of the most famous faces from that day are Richard Barnett from Arkansas, who was pictured with his feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk, who later told a reporter that he “didn’t steal” the piece of mail he was holding (which was addressed to Billy Long, a member of Congress from my home state of Missouri), because he’d “put a quarter on her desk” as payment. He also told reporters that he scratched his balls in her office. 

Adam Johnson from Florida was pictured smiling, waving, and carrying Pelosi’s lectern from the House of Representatives. 

Jacob Chansley (known online as Jake Angeli/The Q Shaman) from Arizona was shown in multiple pictures hanging out, screaming at people, and just being an all-around fun guy.

Lonnie Coffman, a 70-year-old man from Alabama was carrying unregistered pistol and police found Molotov cocktails and other firearms in his truck. 

So far, more than 80 people have been arrested in connection to the attempted coup, and I expect in the days to come, many more will face a similar fate. Even if rioters manage to escape federal or local charges, their names and faces will forever be associated with what will undoubtedly go down as one of the most hostile days in our history. 

I want to circle back to Jacob Chansley for a minute, because when I saw him on television last Wednesday, in all his horned glory, I knew who he was. He’s become one of the most recognizable faces of the riot, not only for his appearance, but because he was one of the first people to be cast as an “ANTIFA bad actor” by the right wingers, despite the fact that there is much evidence to the contrary. Those of us who have spent any time in the QANON sewer know this man as Jake Angeli, the Q Shaman. 

One of the podcasters I follow on Twitter, Travis View, who hosts the QANON Anonymous podcast, posted a video he captured in November of Chansley in Arizona, speaking to a crowd of protesters at the Maricopa Tabulation Center. 

In other words, Chansley is no “bad actor.” He’s a regular, run of the mill QANON terrorist.

**Side Note** The QANON Anonymous podcast is THE BEST podcast, in my opinion, if you want a window into the minds and actions of the people deeply entrenched in the QANON conspiracy theory. The hosts of the show—Travis View, Jake Rockatansky, and Julian Fields are fantastic journalists, and they’re funny as hell. I also suggest paying for the premium episodes through Patreon. 

Anyway, back to the horned douche bag. Chansley is a regular at QANON events, and wouldn’t you know it? I found him on Parler, which seems to be (as of yesterday) one of the only social media outlets where he still exists. 

From his Parler, I linked to his video feed on Rumble, and boy is it a trip. Apart from being full QANON, this dude believes he is a Super Soldier, which is, well, sort of like an alien from another dimension. Honestly, I tuned him out after he used the term “starseed.” In one video, he gives an hour and a half explanation of his origin, which is titled: “An Avenger’s Story: Captain America.”

Let’s all stop for a second to say a collective, “Fuuuuuuuuuuck.”

In a Washington Post article, Chansley apparently called the FBI and told them he, “came as part of a group effort with other patriots from Arizona, at the request of the President that all patriots come to D.C. on January 6th, 2021.”

The vast majority of these people, it seems, aren’t trying to hide from the law or their part in the Capitol takeover attempt. Although some of them, like Jenny Cudd from Texas, who livestreamed herself in the Capitol and has since tried to downplay her involvement, just like newly elected (and since resigned) West Virginia lawmaker, Derrick Evans, who ALSO livestreamed himself inside the capitol and has since claimed through his lawyer that Evans was just acting as a “amateur journalist” recording the day’s events, even though he posted a video earlier in the day (that has since been deleted) where he can be seen saying, “They’re making an announcement right now: If Pence betrays us you better get your mind right, because we’re storming that building.”

An article by Reuters also reports that both police officers and firefighters in multiple states have been placed on administrative leave pending investigations for their part in the Capitol riot. It has been pretty well documented that there is a QANON presence within the police force nationwide, so this tidbit of information doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise to me. Even fallen officer Brian Sicknick, who on his Parler account described himself as a “Patriot, Veteran, and Constitutionalist” followed a few QANON accounts there. He doesn’t appear to have ever shared anything Q related, however.

Sicknick’s death is absolutely tragic. He did not deserve to die, and he died defending his country, which absolutely does make him a patriot. The fact that he was murdered by people who probably, at the end of the day, he fundamentally agreed with goes beyond the bounds of tragedy. 

It’s clear to me that these people who have traitors to their own country, truly believed in the cause for which they rioted. They believed in the president for whom they were willing to die. They really thought that there would be a storm, some kind of reckoning. They believed, most of them, the same way Elizabeth from Knoxville believed—it’s a revolution.

Of course, it wasn’t a revolution. It was a poorly orchestrated and attempted coup. 

It was sedition. 

It was treason.  

It was a lie. 

And that lie was perpetrated by the man who holds the highest office in The United States of America—President Donald John Trump. 

Trump has been not only allowed but encouraged to spout his lies for years unchecked. He’s been allowed to bully those who will not capitulate. He’s been allowed to say whatever and do whatever from the Oval Office and on social media, and it wasn’t until his vast web of lies culminated in a massive act of violence that anyone with any power themselves really and truly did anything about it. 

Make no mistake, Trump is not alone. He’s been able to do what he has done over his presidency with the help of many, many other people. I believe that Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senator Lindsey Graham are absolutely complicit, but when we speak to the insurrection at the Capitol last Wednesday, there are other names that stand out further, like Senators Ted Cruz from Texas and Josh Hawley from Missouri. They are part of a group of Senators who have been deemed the “Seditious Six,” because even after the riot, they still voted to reject the electoral college vote in the Senate. The other four on this list are Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Roger Marshall of Kansas, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. 

141 members of the House of Representatives also voted not to certify. Here is a picture of the 6 Senators plus the 141 members of the House.

Freshman House Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene from Alabama (who I’ve written about at length in another blog post) continues to viciously defend Trump on Twitter and Parler. 

Parler has since gone down after Amazon pulled its hosting services.

I’m not sure how much pressure other GOP lawmakers are getting for the part they knowingly played in the moments leading up to the insurrection, but in my state, Josh Hawley is getting quite a bit of pressure to hold himself accountable (which he will never, ever do). Several of his financial and political backers have denounced him, he lost his book deal with Simon & Schuster, newspapers are calling for him to resign, and there were protests in St. Louis over the weekend. 

We also need to add General Michael Flynn, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Lin Wood to the tally of individuals who have incited violence, knowingly lied, and worked to perpetuate fraud on the American people. 

Lin Wood is the most unhinged of them all, calling for VP Mike Pence to be executed by firing squad on Parler in a since deleted (by Parler) post. He’s claimed he wasn’t being literal but come on. Lin Wood doesn’t know the meaning of hyperbole. I don’t even have the time it would take to go through his vast catalogue of batshit posts, but here are a few, just so you understand what I’m talking about. 

On Friday, Twitter took the extraordinary move to ban Trump from Twitter indefinitely, right after it banned Lin Wood, Sidney Powell, General Flynn, and many others, including several QANON supporting and adjacent profiles (like Praying Medic, who I also wrote about in my post about Marjorie Taylor Greene). In the last few days, Trump has also been banned from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and many other social media networks. Both Apple and Google have removed the Parler app from their app stores, and Amazon announced it would no longer host the website, effectively removing it from the web altogether. As I’m typing this on Monday afternoon, January 11th, Parler has moved to sue Amazon for that removal. 

Now those who truly don’t understand the meaning of the 1st Amendment are crying foul, which honestly, is pretty par for the course. Not only do they not know the way their constitutional rights work, but they’re also livid over this supposed censorship for all the wrong reasons. In my opinion, social media networks like Twitter and Facebook have been, much like lawmakers, complicit in the events that transpired last Wednesday. They have allowed rampant hate speech to dominate. They have allowed outrageous lies and half-truths to circulate across the globe. It’s not just what’s happened here, in this country. These social media networks have a history of allowing bile to spill forth from all over.

While I’m glad they’ve finally taken action, it’s too little, too late, and although I enjoy watching the far-right masses scream in displeasure, this mass effort to muzzle Trump has only resulted in further outrage that could incite more violence. Let me be clear, though—it had to happen. 

I think we could be having a productive discussion about what is and is not permissible information to share via social media, especially when it comes from those with a large following. There is a level of responsibility—both from those who run the social media outlet to the person sharing the information. While I think we could argue about what does and does not constitute violent rhetoric, there really is no argument for allowing anyone to share false info, and it doesn’t matter how angry Trump’s base is about it. Nobody, and I mean nobody, should be allowed to lie about things like voter fraud and pedophilia. Nobody should be allowed to tell us that “the storm” is coming, when there is no fucking storm.

Lies laced with hate are exactly how we got here. 

Still, the fact remains that Donald Trump is the cancer, but he’s not the root cause. Removing Trump from office would be a good (and unlikely) first step. Banning him from ever running for office again is a good second step, but his base isn’t going to go away, and it’s not just because of their undying worship of him. His base has always existed, and we will never be able to heal until we address the issue of why they exist. 

We can’t do that until we’re ready to have a hard, and I mean really hard, conversation. 

I’ve spent most of my life living in small towns. The people here are tired. They’re poor. They’re angry. They’re frustrated. They live in a cycle of generational poverty that isn’t getting any better. The wealth disparity is enormous. People cling to their bibles and their guns because it gives them a reason to get up every morning. People cling to fascists like Donald Trump because he tells them that it’s not their fault they struggle, and unlike their Bibles, he tells them they don’t have to wait until they die to reach the Kingdom of Heaven. All they have to do is blame someone else, anyone else, for their dire circumstances. 

Brown people.

Immigrants. 

Democrats. 

Liberals. 

ANTIFA.

BLM.

Nancy Pelosi. 

Joe Biden.

It’s not a groundbreaking concept. It’s how all dictators gain and hold tight their control, and if we want to keep the sores of our nation from festering, we have to address the fact that we live in a society where the poor stay poor and the rich stay rich. We have to address the fact that the American Dream died in the 1970’s for poor, white people and never even existed at all for people of color. 

We need to discuss the reasons why a group of people who, over the summer rallied behind police officers, would so casually beat one to death. We need to discuss why a group of people would proudly and loudly call themselves deplorables and believe people like Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani when they tell them the “elites” hate them, even though Trump and Giuliani are the literal picture of elite. We need to understand the psychology of both hating rich people and wanting to be rich people at the very same time. 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a seminal novel in high school English classes across the country. It’s a fantastic work of literature, and there is a reason why we discuss it still today. I think most of us could agree that the very same problems that plagued the town of Maycomb in Atticus Finch’s Alabama are the same problems that continue to plague us. That all white jury believed Mayella Ewell and her white trash family over Tom Robinson, despite the wealth of evidence that proved Mayella was a liar, and if for a second they considered that Tom Robinson wasn’t a lustful black man who wanted to rape Mayella, all of that changed the second Tom admitted he felt sorry for her. 

Why?

Because at the end of the day, that jury believed that it was better to be poor, white trash than to be black, and if you think for a single second that 99% of the men and women who stormed the Capitol on May 6th don’t also believe that, then you are dead fucking wrong. 

If you believe that this divide, this desperate value system isn’t at the very heart of everything going on in our country right now, then you are dead fucking wrong. 

The people who committed acts of sedition by breaking the windows of one of our most sacred buildings, who propped their feet up at the desks of our elected officials, who smeared excrement on the walls and floors, who beat a policeman to death, who trampled one of their own, who hopped over chairs carrying zip ties, who chanted to hang our Vice President, who called Nancy Pelosi a bitch and a cunt and sent texts to their friends about wanting to murder her will absolutely be held accountable, but they have already fared far better than any POC would have fared had they attempted half of that.

And make no mistake—the people at the top who urged them on nearly every traitorous step of the way will fare far better still. 

P.S.–Fuck you, Josh Hawley.

Yours Truly,

Tiny Blue Dot

References:

Barry, E., Bogel-burroughs, N., & Philipps, D. (2021, January 08). Woman Killed in Capitol Embraced Trump and QAnon. Retrieved January 9, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/07/us/who-was-ashli-babbitt.html

Caspani, M. (2021, January 10). Off-duty police, firefighters under investigation in connection with U.S. Capitol riot. Retrieved January 10, 2020, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-police-investigation/off-duty-police-firefighters-under-investigation-in-connection-with-us-capitol-riot-idUSKBN29F0KH

Dailymail.com, M. W. (2021, January 08). Capitol riots: Why was ‘Elizabeth from Knoxville’ holding an ONION? Retrieved January 10, 2021, from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9126861/Woman-gave-interview-crying-saying-maced-holding-ONION.html

Rambaran, V. (2021, January 09). West Virginia lawmaker charged in Capitol siege resigns. Retrieved January 10, 2021, from https://www.foxnews.com/politics/west-virginia-lawmaker-charged-in-capitol-siege

Published by tinybluedot2020

Just a tiny blue dot in a deep red state.

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