As a follow-up to my previous post, this occurred to me. It’s implicit in all the January 6th assessments, mine included. This morning I listened to this on the New Yorker Radio Hour and found myself nodding in agreement. So I thought, a separate post to underscore the point.
The insurrectionists are, mostly, convinced that the government is a danger to America. The precise formulation of this belief is less important, I think, than what informs it, which is what distinguishes this from most “rebellions.” Usually when The People rise up to oppose their government, it is because that government is oppressing them. Policies, procedures, the politics rallied to define what the government is doing basically align to force people to conform to realities they cannot abide. All well and good—your government is oppressing you, something should be done about it.
What sets this one apart is that what most of these folks are complaining about is not their own oppression (although they have construed it that way in order to justify their reactions) but because they see their government failing to oppress those they believe should be oppressed. Minorities, the poor, women, LGBTQ, and immigrants. Whatever the reality may be, we are in a period wherein our government has begun to address the concerns of marginalized groups, those who in past generations have suffered discrimination and legal censure. The last twenty, thirty years have seen reversals of this, so that at least publicly the government is speaking on their behalf (whatever actually policy may be). All in the name of equality. We have been in a maelstrom of realignment the purpose of which is to rehabilitate our postures in relation to previously alienated and oppressed groups.
The people who stormed the capitol are angry that “their” government is no longer censuring these groups, that it appears the government is tacitly approving of these groups, declaring that they have rights and should enjoy the same liberties.
All those White Folks are furious that the cops are being held to account for abusing people who used to be fair game for social restrictions, unacknowledged official sanctions, and legal barriers. They hate that people they were once able to make bad jokes about, treat disrespectfully, and force into hiding for being different now demand and receive the same benefits as White Folks.
Listening to the radio broadcast above, you will hear the same analysis. These are people suddenly stripped of their sense of entitlement to be the dominant hominid in their country. What they want is for their government to once more support them in their wish to feel superior to blacks, latinx, Asians, immigrants, gays, atheists, Jews, anything that is different than the whitebread protestant caucasian he-man image they embrace as the natural state of “true American.”
They’ve been losing the freedom to be assholes and they want it back.
I’m being intentionally crude here because after several years of listening to their screeds, seeing their outrage around insubstantial identity issues, and witnessing the childish (though quite deadly and frightening) act of rage last year, I find nothing sophisticated or supportable in anything they represent. They are crude, badly if not poorly educated, and representative of just about everything I find least admirable about America. Calling it a tantrum is both accurate and deceptive.
The people who have fed this tantrum, however, are anything but unsophisticated. But their motives are essentially the same. They don’t want to share what they believe is rightfully theirs.
So after trying to find motives and descriptors that render all this perhaps more comprehensible, I’ve given up. Performatively if nothing else—but frankly I think it’s the whole thing—this is simple racism.
Enough already with the tolerance for this nonsense.