Jun 21 • 50M

"Are You Now or Have You Ever Been a Trump Supporter"

January 6th in Primetime is More McCarthy than Watergate

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The podcast version of Sasha Stone's Substack essays.
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The January 6th riot was ugly and violent. It was one of the worst things to happen in this country after one of its most difficult years. Protests are the voices of the unheard. The MAGA supporters who gathered in DC that day were exercising their First Amendment right to protest at their Capitol. At the same time, agitators near the Capitol were whipped up into a frenzy, believing they had a patriotic duty to stop the election of Joe Biden.

The footage was proof at last of what the Democrats had been warning the country about - the “white supremacist” terrorist uprising had finally come to pass. It would also turn out to be the most important piece of political propaganda in over 50 years that would hand absolute power to those who sought to remove Trump the minute he was elected.

It was not, however, an attempted coup or an “insurrection.” For one thing, Trump was the sitting President on January 6th. If anything, they were trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. In their own minds, they were trying to stop a coup, not launch one. Whatever fantasies drove people like Ashli Babbit to become desperate enough that they would sacrifice their own lives is only used to further stoke the flames of hatred and division by our government.

That the media, the blue-checks on Twitter, and the political opposition have declared it an “insurrection” without due process is yet another sign that we no longer have a working media. But we already knew that.

Most Americans know something bad happened on January 6th. Many believe Trump was responsible. But everyone knows these hearings are for: to stop Trump’s movement from overtaking the GOP, getting into Congress, and perhaps recapturing the presidency in 2024.

The thing that scares them the most is that Trump might win. The Democrats have made such a mess of things and turned this country into a dystopian nightmare that Trump is the preferred option, even after the January 6th hearings began.

One of the reasons Donald Trump remains popular is that he’s not afraid to mock the powerful. He’s called the media the “enemy of the people.” He destroyed the presidential prospects of Bush’s golden child, Jeb! He wrecked Hillary Clinton’s chances of being the first female president and knocked down the carefully constructed utopia Obama built. Trump is Public Enemy Number One.

After months of extremely violent riots alongside the Black Lives Matter protests, where the politicians who won in 2020 addressed their complaints and completely re-ordered American society, the January 6th rioters probably thought they would be considered and treated the same way. Hundreds of prisoners have been dumped GITMO style into solitary confinement in the DC jail, many without charges brought against them, enduring all manner of torments to get them to name Trump as their instigator.

Where are the reporters writing about this? Where is the ACLU or civil rights attorneys fighting for their rights as American citizens? As with all things in the post-2020 world, they dare not say a word lest they too be accused of being racist apologists and domestic terrorist sympathizers. Also, they see them as they always have seen them - human garbage as best, terrorists at worst.

The January 6th Select Committee hearings are dressed up to look like Watergate - Authoritative, serious, definitive. But they are not a good faith effort to uncover the truth about that day. Rather, they are about naming Trump and his movement as anti-American, which justifies their ongoing marginalization of the non-compliant. That makes them much more like the McCarthy hearings at the point where the Senator had gone too far.

Since Trump shocked the country with a surprise win, the idea that a “racist” could win after Obama’s two terms was an existential threat that sent this country reeling. Mass hysteria bloomed in the wake of 2016, and after 2020, there were ongoing witch hunts to root out racists on Twitter, in higher education, in science labs, in fiction, in movies. It was bound to make its way into government, and now, because these committee hearings are making them not about the riot on January 6th but the presumed ideology behind the riot — “white rage” — we have another witch hunt on our hands that looks a lot like 1954.

Joseph McCarthy was not wrong about the Communist threat. All of these decades later, it’s clear there were spies in our government, and screenwriters were trying to inject that ideology into our culture. Eisenhower shut it down because McCarthy had become paranoid that anyone and everyone might be a communist, including military members. Ike recognized that it was making the post-WWII American weaker, not stronger. That is why he helped destroy McCarthy’s credibility and end what we now call McCarthyism.

It is hard to police the minds and hearts of Americans in a supposedly free society. Here we are, decades later, and that Communist threat is alive and well and has all but consumed the Democratic Party yet again. But you won’t see a witch hunt about that, at least not yet. Trump’s America First Party is a threat to the established order. The problem is that they sloppily apply “white supremacy” to that movement. That is why the January 6th hearings feel more like McCarthyism than they do Watergate.

Even before Trump won, his supporters had already been spit on, beaten, and dehumanized by the public, whether it was mocking their makeup or age, weight, hair, or education, chasing them out of the restaurants to physically assaulting them all because the media and the politicians had convicted them of being racists, which, in the wake of the Obama era is the absolute worst thing you could be. Here is an example from the run-up to the 2016 election:

It never seems to have occurred to the media or the most powerful “elites” that smearing a whole group of people as “racists” might not be healthy for American Democracy. In a culture that tightly policed thought and behavior even before it reached its climax in 2020, Trump’s freedom to say whatever he wanted and mock whomever he wanted represents a “clear and present” danger to the utopian Left.

It was never about what Trump did. It was always about what he said. Even January 6th isn’t so much about what they did. It’s much more about why they did it. All points lead back to Trump.

They believe January 6th was about race because they believe Trump’s MAGA movement is racist. They believe Trump’s rise directly resulted from the nation’s first Black president, just as they believed the Tea Party was racist. It was just something everyone believed because the media cherry-picked imagery and clips from various speeches and rallies meant to prove all of them were racists. At some point, it just wasn’t a question.

The only problem is that it isn’t true. The Trump movement has always been about class, not racism. It’s about the American people who were left behind after that giant sucking sound that evacuated jobs and nearly wrecked the middle class. The Left now cares only about the most privileged and the least privileged. They don’t seem to care much about the ones in the middle, the farmers, the truck drivers, the bartenders, and small business owners.

How do I know Trump’s America First movement is not about race? Because I made an effort to get to know that world. I went looking for the smoking gun because I did not like belonging to a group that was dehumanizing another.

I never found the version of Trump the Left believes exists. For instance, Steve Bannon and the MAGA movement have been deliberately and actively recruiting Black and Hispanic voters for at least six years. Bannon calls it “inclusive, nationalist populism.” It’s not about race. It’s about a global worldview vs. a nationalist one. Somehow the Democrats and the media seemed to have missed this part of the story because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

That’s not to say that there aren’t “White Supremacists” in this country. They are a real threat, as we’ve recently seen in Buffalo, NY. But what the government and media are trying to do, label Trump and his movement as “white supremacists” without proof, is reminiscent of the McCarthy era.

What Really Happened on January 6th?

The Select Committee looks more like a show trial than a good faith effort to uncover the truth. During Stalin's and Mao’s Communist regimes, they counted on show trials to scare citizens into silence and compliance. Here, we have major media outlets and government officials repeating the false notion that it was an “insurrection” driven by “white rage.” If this were a serious committee in search of the truth of what happened on January 6th, the following questions would be addressed:

One:

How many people knew there was a threat to the Capitol before January 6th, and when did they know it? Polls show even those who believe Trump was responsible want to know the answer to this question. Granted, bringing this up to anyone on the Left means you’ll get two responses — the first, you are a conspiracy theorist, and the second is to rationalize it somehow. General Milley was worried about the protest; the FBI had to know. The Mayor of DC knew. How could the most powerful country in the world with the most powerful military in the world have put the Capitol police in such a vulnerable spot that day?

Two:

What, if any, was the FBI’s involvement? I know, I know. Rachel Maddow would not approve of anyone daring to ask this question, but there hasn’t been an adequate explanation so far. Why was Stewart Rhodes only charged a year later when he was the ringleader of the Oathkeeper’s plans to stop the certification of the vote? Why is Ray Epps still not charged even though he is on tape telling Trump supporters to go into the Capitol? Plenty of other people who never entered the Capitol have been arrested.

If the government’s overreach is so extreme, arresting anyone and everyone involved in the so-called “insurrection,” why not Epps?

From Julie Kelly’s book January 6 - How Democrats Used the Capitol Protest to Launch a War on Terror Against the Political Right:

“In the early 1990s, the FBI accelerated its focus on the white Christian Right after the events at Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge; the FBI launched PATCON, short for Patriot Conspiracy, an alleged movement of Christian extremists. In one case, the FBI created a fictional rightwing militia group to use it as an organ to collect information about other suspected militia members. “The tactics of FBI agents infiltrating militias, as well as paid informants being coerced into spying on these groups, and, in some instances, even providing the means and encouragement to carry out violent plots before being arrested, have been criticized as constituting entrapment by using agent provocateurs—agents posing as criminals to justify the financial and social expenses of counter-terrorism,” a 2011 study published by Rutger’s University concluded.

Was this the case with January 6?

Kelly explains how Stewart Rhodes was widely accepted as Person One in the multi-defendant case and was, by all accounts, calling the shots.

She continues,

But nine months after the first arrests, he was still a free man.

“Given…Stewart Rhodes’s actions and words leading up to and on 1/6, and given that Rhodes is the leader of the major militia group associated with 1/6—why no indictment for Rhodes?” Beattie asked. Citing similarities to the [Gretchen] Whitmer case, Beattie continued, “If it turns out that an extraordinary percentage of the members of these groups involved in planning and executing the Capitol Siege were federal informants or undercover operatives, the implications would be nothing short of staggering. This would be far worse than the already bad situation of the government knowing about the possibility of violence and doing nothing. Instead, this would imply that elements of the federal government were active instigators in the most egregious and spectacular aspects of 1/6, amounting to a monumental entrapment scheme used as a pretext to imprison otherwise harmless protestors at the Capitol—and in a much larger sense used to “frame the entire MAGA movement as potential domestic terrorists.”

All those arrested in connection with Rhodes have been charged with various crimes. You can read those names here. You can look up their charges here.

Here are the only 11 charged with “seditious conspiracy” in a graphic I pieced together from the government’s site:

Of these 11, two have pleaded guilty to “seditious conspiracy,” Joshua James and Brian Ulrich.

Julie Kelly continues her convincing case against Rhodes:

Rhodes then gave an interview, which seemed more like damage control, to the New York Times that revealed he had been interviewed by the FBI in May. “Against the advice of a lawyer, Mr. Rhodes spoke freely with the agents about the Capitol assault for nearly three hours,” reporter Alan Feuer wrote in a July 9 article. Rhodes told Feuer that his underlings had “gone off mission” and that he was “frustrated” so many entered the building. “Prosecutors overseeing the investigation of Mr. Rhodes have long admitted that they have struggled to make a case against him. His activities seemed to stay within the boundaries of the First Amendment, one official with knowledge of the matter said.”

But Rhodes’ posts and texts before January 6 were highly inflammatory, and contradicted his portrayal in the Times. Further, the argument that his online activity and his conduct that day—he did not enter the building, but neither did dozens of other protesters nonetheless charged for various crimes—were protected by the First Amendment also contradicted the government’s stance that the events of January 6 rose to the crime of insurrection, not a legitimate political protest. That certainly wasn’t the case for Thomas Caldwell, one of the first Oath Keepers arrested and indicted, who also did not enter the building.

Beattie followed up his initial reports with an updated piece in October that summarized the Justice Department’s nine-month prosecution of the Oath Keepers. Rhodes, Beattie explained, established the conspiracy, recruited the people involved, gave instructions including the use of illegal weapons, and activated the conspiracy, including the entrance into the building in a stack formation, that afternoon. Still, Rhodes remained uncharged.”

It took them nine months to finally arrest Rhodes, and to come up with the “seditious conspiracy” charge to lend some heft to their unprecedented treatment of political prisoners who were American citizens protesting against the establishment.

The only answer from the media on any of this is to ridicule anyone who would dare ask. It’s all a “right-wing conspiracy theory” to them. Ironically, they did the same thing to Woodward and Bernstein when they were investigating Watergate, as the opening of the film All The President’s Men illustrates:

The New York Times, along with all media outlets on the Left, are working overtime to disprove any FBI involvement and did clear up at least one part of the Ray Epps story, that he whispered into the ear of someone just before he breached the Capitol. According to this story, that is false. But FBI informants are under no obligation to reveal their identities. Epps remains uncharged even though he can be seen on video telling Trump supporters that they must GO into the Capitol.

Of course, because no one trusts the media anymore — and why would they — it’s hard to know what is true and what isn’t, but the point is, something looks fishy about Epps and Rhodes regarding January 6th. If we can’t trust media, and we can’t trust the FBI we need journalists whose jobs are to hold the powerful to account.

Three:

What happened to Ashli Babbitt?

Writing for the Spectator, Peter Van Buren asks, When will the Committee start showing the video of her being shot by Capitol Police? Babbitt, wearing a Trump flag like a cape, was one of the rioters who smashed the glass on the door leading to the Speaker’s Lobby of the Capitol. A plain-clothes Capitol Police officer fired a shot and Babbitt fell into the crowd and died. It was the only shot fired in the riot. A SWAT team just behind Babbitt saw the situation differently and never fired on her or those with her. Babbitt was unarmed and was not resisting arrest because the cop never got that far. He just shot her.

He adds another question that needs addressing:

Why, and on whose order, did Capitol police allow 300 people to simply walk into the building without resistance on the afternoon of January 6? And who was the man in a bicycle helmet whom video shows initiating the window-smashing that ended in the shooting of Ashli Babbitt? Why was he welcomed behind police lines once things got out of hand?”

Four:

There were supposedly pipe bombs placed in buildings in DC, where there were plenty of security cameras. Whatever happened to that investigation? Julie Kelly on Twitter also asks the following question:

An Insurrection or a Violent Riot?

When Communist revolutionaries shot up the Capitol in 1954 they were charged with “seditious conspiracy” for fighting for Puerto Rico’s independence. The sentencing read, “this case makes it clear that these people and their followers have nothing but contempt for our laws, our courts, and our public officials.”

Eisenhower strengthened the “seditious conspiracy” laws after he had quietly and behind the scenes put an end to McCarthyism. He wrote while signing the law:

The American people are determined to protect themselves and their institutions against any organization in their midst which, purporting to be a political party within the normally accepted meaning, is actually a conspiracy dedicated to the violent overthrow of our entire form of government.

One could easily make the argument that the uprisings over the Summer were also political movements that sought to violently overthrow the US government. Or that the #resistance was a four-year-long coup to remove Trump that ended with the 2020 election. No one actually sees it that way because this moment in history is being written solely by one side.

But if we had an objective, honest press, they would see that violent protests against our government by the Left are never seen as seditious or treasonous. Rather, they’re applauded and admired, or they are simply ignored. Most of the political violence in this country’s recent history has come from the Left, not the Right.

You can’t tell me if it had been Democratic activists who had breached the Capitol, they would have been treated the same way.

Julie Kelly writes of the Kavanaugh hearing:

“The siege of government buildings escalated. Republican senators were angrily confronted in elevators and outside government buildings. Some received death threats. The outrage was heavily fueled by Democratic leaders including Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Hello resistance!” Warren shouted to a raucous crowd assembled outside on October 4. “I am angry on behalf of women who have been told to sit down and shut up one time too many. This is about hijacking our democracy.”

Thousands heeded Warren’s call for action. “We were planning to shut down the Capitol Building but the authorities were so scared of this #WomensWave that they shut it down for us,” the official account of the Women’s March tweeted that day. “1000+ women, survivors, and allies have gathered in the Hart Senate Building. Every hallway. Every floor.”

When Pence announced on the afternoon of October 6, 2018 that Kavanaugh’s nomination was confirmed, women shouted from the Senate gallery and were removed.

The nation was roiled by the Kavanaugh fiasco for more than a month yet activists opposed to his nomination were considered heroes, not villains, by the national news media.

The violence at the Capitol was unusual for Trump supporters because if there was one point of superiority they had over the Left, they were the non-violent side. They weren’t boarding up windows on Election Night because they thought Biden would win. They did it because they knew if Trump had won, cities would burn.

Now, because of January 6th, they’ve completely flipped the script. The formerly non-violent Trump supporters are the violent protesters, not the Left. The formerly cop-hating Democrats are now the side that suddenly cares about the Capitol Police.

Footage of the Capitol breach has been played over and over and over again, nonstop. By contrast, the media barely covered the riots over the Summer.

The fact is that the Left can be as violent as they want, as insistent and demanding of their rights as they want, to fight for the country they want - be as intrusive of public spaces as they want, all because they are protected by the media and blue-check Twitter who are ideologically aligned with them.

Trump supporters aren’t even considered human beings, let alone American citizens with those same rights. The 2020 election was unprecedented in the alliance of Big Tech, Big Media, and Big Money. It was the most expensive election in history. When you’re talking about that much power and money, what else do you have except your right to protest?

Whose Big Lie is It Exactly?

You can't talk about January 6 without talking about 2020. You can't talk about 2020 without talking about 2016. I plan on writing a different piece about these two elections, but for now, it’s important to remember what 2020 was - a reaction to 2016.

In the 2016 election, the Trump team had a very specific strategy to keep people home in specific swing states and win a slim Electoral College victory by a few hundred thousand votes. They used Facebook almost exclusively to target three groups to keep them home on Election Day: Black males, using Clinton’s “superpredator” comments, young feminists, Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct allegations, and Bernie Sanders supporters who believe the establishment had rigged the primary against Bernie.

Facebook allowed Trump’s team to microtarget these specific groups in the key swing states. Hillary Clinton’s team was offered the same help but they’d turned it down. She was going for a landslide victory, focusing on winning states like Georgia. Trump’s strategy worked.

Zuckerberg was largely blamed for putting Trump in power, as was the media. Both major players would make up for that in 2020, with $400 million from Zuckerberg to fortify elections for both sides, supposedly. It really only helped the Democrats because they were the side with an enthusiam gap. Trump’s side never had an enthusiasm gap and still doesn’t.

Trump made a strategic error in convincing his supporters to distrust voting machines and save their votes for Election Day. No matter how many of them showed up, there was no way they could close the gap with the massive landslide of ballots Democrats already had collected.

2020 made clear that the media was using its power to swing an election. All of this was bragged about in TIME magazine. They patted themselves on the back for using all their money and resources to remove one person from power and install another. The TIME magazine headline uses the word ‘bi-partisan’ the same way the January 6th committee does: to send the not-so-subtle message that Trump supporters are not welcome in American democracy.

Here is Ben Shapiro saying as much:

It never made sense to me that Trump would have planned a violent riot when he believed Mike Pence, Josh Hawley, and Ted Cruz were going to convince Congress to stop the count and sift through the voting regulations that had been suddenly changed due to COVID and whether or not the ballots were legal. All the violent riot did was wreck his case and hand absolute power to his enemies.

To understand how you get to a rally on January 6th, let alone a riot, it’s necessary to understand how the frustration built up over the past six years.

Trump was not treated like the President of the United States not for one minute, not for a day in his four years in power. He was always treated like an imposter, a cockroach to be exterminated from the establishment so his human garbage supporters could disappear back to the hinterlands.

A podcaster named Darryl Cooper wrote a now-infamous tweet thread that lays it out. But it was when Tucker Carlson read the whole thing on Fox News, millions of people heard it. Our media and government would be smart to pay attention to this:

Why Should You Care?

Why do I care?

Why would I threaten to blow up any social cred I have left caring about Trump supporters or January 6th prisoners? It’s partly because no one else cares about them except a small handful of people like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz. Julie Kelly fights for their rights daily.

But more to the point, what I have in common with Carlson, Shapiro, and Bannon is simply this: I am sensitive to abuse of power against those with less power. It probably comes from having been bullied as a child. I will always stand up for those I feel are getting picked on, even at the expense of my own social network and status as a former blue-check Democrat on Twitter.

2020 was hard on all Americans. From lockdowns, to mask wars, to COVID, to isolation - suicides rose sharply, as did gun deaths. Mass shooters were radicalized almost overnight. Somehow people could understand how so many could spill out onto the streets for the largest protest in American history after being pent up for months but they could not extend that same understanding to the other side when they lost their minds on January 6th.

Probably the most insidious of all is the idea that people who call themselves Patriots, whose movement is called AMERICA FIRST, would be labeled “domestic terrorists,” “insurrectionists,” and traitors. The media narrative that they live in fear of “replacement theory” and are driven by “white rage” is false.

For many Trump supporters, in a country that has all but abandoned them, all they have is their patriotic love of country. Now the one thing they have left is being taken from them all in the name of politics, all because the Democrats and Never Trumpers have candidates who can’t beat Trump.

We get nowhere by dehumanizing each other. We need leadership to bring this country together under one roof before we go too far to turn back around.