The Gaslighting Continues … Pay Attention to the Facts

 

Ever since the tragic events in Charlottesville, VA, that fateful day in August 2017, not even eight months into Donald Trump’s presidency, when real white supremacists showed up for a “Unite the Right” rally, we have been warned repeatedly about the growing threat of “far right” groups.

No question that the Charlottesville rally organized by noted white supremacists Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler – who had obtained a permit from the city – was evil in many ways. Racial supremacy is evil in all its forms. A protester drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a young woman. Three tragically died, two from a state police helicopter crash.

The violence was largely preventable.

The police response to events of the day was the subject of an independent review by former US Attorney Timothy Heaphy. Charlottesville’s police chief resigned, as his and the inept state police response actually deserve some of the blame for the clashes that happened – they allowed the protesters to literally march into each other, and made a very belated effort to separate them. You can find Heaphy’s and his law firm’s review here.

But never ones to let a crisis go to waste, partisans quickly attempted to tie President Trump to the events of the day. They even created and to this day still repeat the “Charlottesville Hoax,” claiming that Trump called the white supremacists “very fine people.” Presidential candidate Joe Biden perpetuated the hoax with no pushback from so-called media fact-checkers as recently as last November. Never mind that President Trump explicitly condemned the white supremacists, but was actually referring to the people involved in both sides of a debate over removing Confederate statues.

Why am I going to all this detail? Because it sets the stage for the ongoing narrative – that we suffer from a continuing crisis of Trump-inspired “white supremacy,” that white supremacists and “far right” fringe groups, like the Proud Boys, were involved in or helped instigate violence during last summer’s riots and protests across the United States. It started with the first ones last May in Minneapolis, and more recently, fueled if not orchestrated the Capitol “armed insurrection” of January 6.

It is all part of a narrative that deserves closer inspection. Much closer. There is still a lot we do not know or aren’t being told. Or worse, much of it is misleading, if not wrong, and designed to deceive.

I don’t discount FBI reports and testimony that white supremacists and allied “far right” or alt-right groups are a serious issue. They always have been, especially when the Ku Klux Klan rose to prominence as the militarized wing of the Democratic Party about 100 years ago. We have a long, often disgraceful, and complicated history involving race in the United States. Over the past 60 years, we have made great strides to course correct. But instead of celebrating, honoring, and building on our achievements, malevolent partisans are perpetuating and reinventing painful historical episodes, and exploiting new events for malign purposes. And it mostly began in Charlottesville with the campaign to tear down, remove, and replace statues and names on buildings. Even Abraham Lincoln, no confederate hero.

That returns us to events of January 6, 2021, at the US Capitol. You know, the “armed insurrection” referenced by House Impeachment Managers during Trump’s second trial.

Independent conservative journalist Julie Kelly has delved into the “armed insurrection” accusation, and found it. . . wanting. So has journalist Byron York of the Washington Examiner, who recounts last week’s Senate hearing on the Capitol riots:

One of the witnesses at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on Wednesday was Jill Sanborn, who is an FBI assistant director for the Counterterrorism Division. In the course of the questioning, Republican Senator Ron Johnson asked Sanborn about the rioters and guns. Here is their exchange:

JOHNSON: How many firearms were confiscated in the Capitol or on Capitol grounds during that day?

SANBORN: To my knowledge, we have not recovered any on that day from any other arrests at the scene at this point. But I don’t want to speak on behalf of Metro and Capitol Police. But to my knowledge, none.

JOHNSON: So nobody has been charged with an actual firearm weapon in the Capitol or on Capitol grounds?

SANBORN: Correct. The closest we came was the vehicle that had the Molotov cocktails in it. And when we did a search of that vehicle later on, there was a weapon.

JOHNSON: How many shots were fired that we know of?

SANBORN: I believe the only shots that were fired were the ones that results in the death of the one lady.

And the Wall Street Journal did their own review:

Most of the nearly 200 people charged in federal cases in connection with the Capitol riot have no known ties to far-right groups, underscoring the challenge of heading off violent extremism, a Wall Street Journal review found.

Authorities say they are ramping up efforts to counter extremism in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, but they are discovering that any charges against people affiliated with organized groups such as the Proud Boys addresses only part of the issue.

According to the Journal’s review, 16% of the 195 defendants charged in federal cases have a known affiliation with right-wing militias or other groups that espouse violence. Researchers at the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, a University of Chicago institute that looked at a larger group of arrestees that included local charges, found that 10% had known affiliations with such groups.

The Wall Street Journal continued:

As researchers and others try to pin down the motives that drove thousands to storm the seat of American government, they are looking at the arrested suspects’ economic, political and geographic backgrounds for insight into the riot and whether it could happen again.

The University of Chicago researchers, citing public records, found that those arrested come from both Republican and Democratic strongholds. Many worked in industries vulnerable to pandemic shutdowns, such as moving, construction and restaurants. About a hundred have public defenders or other court-appointed attorneys, the Journal found, after judges determined they couldn’t pay for their criminal defenses.

Individuals in more than two dozen of the cases reviewed by the Journal have sought bankruptcy protection in the past, been foreclosed upon or ejected by landlords, or left a trail of unpaid bills and taxes. At least 27 defendants had criminal records before their riot-related arrest, according to the Journal review.

There may be something bigger going on here, and maybe it is related, in some part, to our governments’ responses to the pandemic. Meanwhile, congressional Democrats continue to downplay last summer’s Antifa violence to keep eyes and cameras focused on the Capitol riot. Yes, let’s pay careful attention to the law enforcement treatment of the Capitol rioters as well as last summer’s Antifa rioters. We can start here. It is not “whataboutism” to compare the treatment of and reaction to violence last summer and at the Capitol in January, whether by public officials or our legal system. We do not need double standards or two systems of justice, but sadly, it is what we’re being fed. And it is poisonous gruel.

For the record, again, everyone who illegally and/or violently attacked the Capitol and its police that day should be vigorously prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We should feel likewise about the 500+ protests-turned-violent Antifa and BLM events in some 200+ cities this past summer. Over 300 have been charged from the Capitol riot – that’s a good start. Thousands were arrested and dozens were charged with federal crimes from last summer’s riots. But we still have a lot to learn, including that a lot of the political spin and media reporting we’ve been fed is gaslighting.

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  1. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    Good post overall, but here are some personal nitpicks:

    I wouldn’t trust the modern incarnation of the FBI any more than I would a federal employee union, on any politically-charged matter, including assertions about relative threat levels.  The far-Left, practically speaking, is now the mainstream Left, and controls every major institution in the country, public or private; this was proven by the six months of BLM and Antifa domestic terrorism (and the racist, neo-Marxist ideology which inspired it) being openly celebrated by those institutions.  The ‘far-Right’, in comparison, controls a couple of message boards on 4Chan.

    I would also be interested in knowing what constitutes ‘espousing violence’ (pertaining to the WSJ article): does this include, say, calls to protect public and private property from rioters, or groups reminding people what the 2nd Amendment (and therefore citizen-militias) means in the context of theoretically sufficient conditions?  Or is this specifically groups  calling for unprovoked violence, or violent acts of revenge, right now?  The Wall Street Journal has its own biases (Bret Stephens was probably not the only ostensibly right-wing opinion editor to secretly oppose the 2nd Amendment, and their news journalists are no different from peers in other major newspapers), and I don’t trust them to ask the right questions on such matters.

    • #1
  2. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    1 individual in Charlottesville panicked when their car was surrounded and killed 1 person. Period.

    Now contrast that with the consistent and repeated violent attacks by Antifa and BLM mobs from the 2016 election campaign to current day.  

    As for the FBI I have nothing but contempt.  They have become the American Stasi.  A wholly politicized State Police force.

     

    • #2
  3. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Kozak (View Comment):

    1 individual in Charlottesville panicked when their car was surrounded and killed 1 person. Period.

    Now contrast that with the consistent and repeated violent attacks by Antifa and BLM mobs from the 2016 election campaign to current day.

    As for the FBI I have nothing but contempt. They have become the American Stasi. A wholly politicized State Police force.

     

    The guy who killed Heather Heyer in Charlottsville was actually pretty crazy and wasn’t scared. He was just a bad person who had a history of threatening violence, even against his own mother.  

    That being said, I think there is reason to be skeptical of the FBI’s views on white nationalism/right wing violence because they tend to conflate in their assesments white nationalists who are violent (eg drug deals between themselves gone bad) and actual white nationalism as white nationalism (eg attacking interracial couples). This is a systematic problem because you just can’t get people who study extremism to admit that there is such a thing as left-wing extremism. Antifa and BLM don’t count because they can’t count. It just isn’t how they define their measures. Far-right then becomes an oddly boogie-man phrase because it seems that it is saying “no not the right but the far-right” but it turns out everything not liberal ranks high on authoritarianism scales so all right wing thought is basically far right. To the extent the FBI leadership takes that research seriously it can’t be taken seriously at the most basic level.

    The FBI has always done regressive stuff, but after what the higher-ups did to Trump the safe money is to assume it is so thoroughly politicized at the leadership level that the assumptions should be against their statements. 

    • #3
  4. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    When people on one side, or both sides of an issue show up wearing homemade armor, dressed right for a street fight if you like, there is going to be a street fight. That street fight will expose the lack of a law enforcement plan to deal with a riot.

    Just like the more common criminal incidents riots have their own specific set of circumstances. Responses and tactics have to be examined in after action reports, but the media and politicians will only be interested in generalizations to further their favorite narratives.

    • #4
  5. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Kelly D Johnston: For the record, again, everyone who illegally and/or violently attacked the Capitol and its police that day should be vigorously prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    But our usual punishment is NOT the fullest extent of the law.  These “Capitol Panty Raid” folks are sitting in jail without bail while waiting trial for sort-of-kind-of trespassing a public building.   It stinks of partisan oppression.

    • #5
  6. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    Kelly D Johnston: For the record, again, everyone who illegally and/or violently attacked the Capitol and its police that day should be vigorously prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    But our usual punishment is NOT the fullest extent of the law. These “Capitol Panty Raid” folks are sitting in jail without bail while waiting trial for sort-of-kind-of trespassing a public building. It stinks of partisan oppression.

    I really haven’t kept up with this quite as much as I should have but I think this could really be a problem if the rioters are not being treated like other people are. 

    It’s wild because I’m reading my twitter about this stuff and I’m thinking “I guess that is one way to get conservatives to support bail and sentencing reform.” I’m only half kidding. It seems there are potentially some real issues about the way the rioters are being treated relative to other rioters. I’m sure Judges and Prosecutors will say they are not like other rioters because they attacked the Capitol. But I’m not sure I buy that argument.

    • #6
  7. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Goldgeller (View Comment):
    I’m sure Judges and Prosecutors will say they are not like other rioters because they attacked the Capitol. But I’m not sure I buy that argument.

    You shouldn’t. They weren’t willing to prosecute on behalf of average citizens that own small businesses. That they have gone this far over what the government deems their property smacks of elitism and self importance.

    Government is the right target for angst against the government. Small businesses are not.

    • #7
  8. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Stina (View Comment):

    Goldgeller (View Comment):
    I’m sure Judges and Prosecutors will say they are not like other rioters because they attacked the Capitol. But I’m not sure I buy that argument.

    You shouldn’t. They weren’t willing to prosecute on behalf of average citizens that own small businesses. That they have gone this far over what the government deems their property smacks of elitism and self importance.

    Government is the right target for angst against the government. Small businesses are not.

    I agree. Some of the (non)prosecuting decisions regarding Antifa and BLM make me very suspicious.

    • #8
  9. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    Goldgeller (View Comment):

    Some of the (non)prosecuting decisions regarding Antifa and BLM make me very suspicious.

    In much the same way that the dead bodies in Dahmer’s apartment made one suspicious.

     

    • #9
  10. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    lowtech redneck (View Comment):

    Goldgeller (View Comment):

    Some of the (non)prosecuting decisions regarding Antifa and BLM make me very suspicious.

    In much the same way that the dead bodies in Dahmer’s apartment made one suspicious.

     

    Food for thought.

    • #10
  11. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Kozak (View Comment):
    1 individual in Charlottesville panicked when their car was surrounded and killed 1 person. Period.

    That’s what I read too.  They weren’t a protester, they were just treying to get away from the mayhem . . .

    • #11
  12. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    Stad (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):
    1 individual in Charlottesville panicked when their car was surrounded and killed 1 person. Period.

    That’s what I read too. They weren’t a protester, they were just treying to get away from the mayhem . . .

    I suspect both narratives were true; he was an unpleasant and disturbed person who was nonetheless railroaded on an excessive charge, in order to make an example and was part of an earlier attempt at a Reichstag fire.  He (and the nation) needed a John Adams (who defied overwhelming popular opinion in pursuit of truth and justice regarding the Boston Massacre), but we don’t have any qualified person that brave.

     

    • #12
  13. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    When people on one side, or both sides of an issue show up wearing homemade armor, dressed right for a street fight if you like, there is going to be a street fight. That street fight will expose the lack of a law enforcement plan to deal with a riot.

    Just like the more common criminal incidents riots have their own specific set of circumstances. Responses and tactics have to be examined in after action reports, but the media and politicians will only be interested in generalizations to further their favorite narratives.

    The problem I have with this assessment is that it ignores law enforcement’s inaction to protect the innocent going back to the anti-right Berkeley riots in 2015.

    That’s where antifa and black bloc originated, same as proud boys.

    If I remember those events properly, student organizations inviting conservative speakers had a sudden rash of violent protestors. When campuses refused to provide security and the city refused to police the riots, student orgs were faced with canceling speakers or providing their own security. Enter proud boys and based stickman . 

    I did not imagine the businesses around Berkeley on fire, did I?

    • #13
  14. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Stina (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    When people on one side, or both sides of an issue show up wearing homemade armor, dressed right for a street fight if you like, there is going to be a street fight. That street fight will expose the lack of a law enforcement plan to deal with a riot.

    Just like the more common criminal incidents riots have their own specific set of circumstances. Responses and tactics have to be examined in after action reports, but the media and politicians will only be interested in generalizations to further their favorite narratives.

    The problem I have with this assessment is that it ignores law enforcement’s inaction to protect the innocent going back to the anti-right Berkeley riots in 2015.

    That’s where antifa and black bloc originated, same as proud boys.

    If I remember those events properly, student organizations inviting conservative speakers had a sudden rash of violent protestors. When campuses refused to provide security and the city refused to police the riots, student orgs were faced with canceling speakers or providing their own security. Enter proud boys and based stickman .

    I did not imagine the businesses around Berkeley on fire, did I?

    I think you are right about how law enforcement didn’t react properly with the Berkeley riots. IIRC you can find some videos where people, including those who have been beaten (mainly conservatives and/or proud boys) are asking cops to intervene and the cops don’t. It will certainly lead to radicalization and people learning the lesson that violence is okay. 

    But I guess also I interpreted the statement you are quoting as a very value neutral statement about how riots/fights happen and the subsequent administrative response is carried out, and it also seems to be very correct.

    • #14
  15. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Stina (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    When people on one side, or both sides of an issue show up wearing homemade armor, dressed right for a street fight if you like, there is going to be a street fight. That street fight will expose the lack of a law enforcement plan to deal with a riot.

    Just like the more common criminal incidents riots have their own specific set of circumstances. Responses and tactics have to be examined in after action reports, but the media and politicians will only be interested in generalizations to further their favorite narratives.

    The problem I have with this assessment is that it ignores law enforcement’s inaction to protect the innocent going back to the anti-right Berkeley riots in 2015.

    That’s where antifa and black bloc originated, same as proud boys.

    If I remember those events properly, student organizations inviting conservative speakers had a sudden rash of violent protestors. When campuses refused to provide security and the city refused to police the riots, student orgs were faced with canceling speakers or providing their own security. Enter proud boys and based stickman .

    I did not imagine the businesses around Berkeley on fire, did I?

    You’re blaming the wrong people. You should be blaming the elected officials. Police chiefs that don’t bow to the mayor or city council will be terminated, and the street cop will be prosecuted by the elected Soros DA, not the rioters.

    An elected sheriff has a bit more leeway, although the LA city council is doing their best to remove the Los Angeles County Sheriff. As long as voters decide to elect city leaders that view them as no more than collateral damage in shaping the new socialist utopia I have very little empathy for the residents new socialist sanctuaries.

    • #15
  16. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    As long as voters decide to elect city leaders that view them as no more than collateral damage in shaping the new socialist utopia I have very little empathy for the residents new socialist sanctuaries.

    By the same token I have very little condemnation of groups like the Proud Boys being ready and willing to defend themselves in those circumstances.  

     

    • #16
  17. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    You’re blaming the wrong people. You should be blaming the elected officials. Police chiefs that don’t bow to the mayor or city council will be terminated, and the street cop will be prosecuted by the elected Soros DA, not the rioters.

     

    I get that. But if law fails to be enforced, at whatever level, I don’t understand why conservatives have nearly universally vilified the defenders and reactionaries to the overt violence that sprung up on the left.

    Even during the summer riots, the void of law enforcement (again, at whatever level) led to vigilante defenders. And again, we castigated those groups… for what? Daring to show up where antifa was and trying to give them an even target instead of the defenseless locals?

    Its war. And it wasn’t started by Proud Boys or Patriot Prayer. It was started by the left and enabled by local governments.

    • #17
  18. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Stina (View Comment):
    Even during the summer riots, the void of law enforcement (again, at whatever level) led to vigilante defenders. And again, we castigated those groups… for what? Daring to show up where antifa was and trying to give them an even target instead of the defenseless locals?

    Yeah, I get roused when anybody calls out the groups on the right for anything they did, ever, in response to leftist scum taking over the streets.

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    You’re blaming the wrong people. You should be blaming the elected officials. Police chiefs that don’t bow to the mayor or city council will be terminated, and the street cop will be prosecuted by the elected Soros DA, not the rioters.

    Now that’s true. It is the fault of the elected officials. But tell me, @dougwatt, what do you think will be the correct response of line cops when they’re told to do something that goes over the line? I’m betting that 90% of them, weighted towards the senior ranks but who cares it’s 90%, will go along and follow orders like a good … policeman.

    Stina (View Comment):

    Its war. And it wasn’t started by Proud Boys or Patriot Prayer. It was started by the left and enabled by local governments.

    Damn right.

    • #18
  19. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    Even during the summer riots, the void of law enforcement (again, at whatever level) led to vigilante defenders. And again, we castigated those groups… for what? Daring to show up where antifa was and trying to give them an even target instead of the defenseless locals?

    Yeah, I get roused when anybody calls out the groups on the right for anything they did, ever, in response to leftist scum taking over the streets.

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    You’re blaming the wrong people. You should be blaming the elected officials. Police chiefs that don’t bow to the mayor or city council will be terminated, and the street cop will be prosecuted by the elected Soros DA, not the rioters.

    Now that’s true. It is the fault of the elected officials. But tell me, @ dougwatt, what do you think will be the correct response of line cops when they’re told to do something that goes over the line? I’m betting that 90% of them, weighted towards the senior ranks but who cares it’s 90%, will go along and follow orders like a good … policeman.

    Stina (View Comment):

    Its war. And it wasn’t started by Proud Boys or Patriot Prayer. It was started by the left and enabled by local governments.

    Damn right.

    The officers that you want to keep are already leaving police work in record numbers. Some are being hired by cities that respect police work, and there is a difference between between hero-worship and respect. Those officers leaving know the difference. Standards have been lowered in cities like Chicago.

    You can always find call takers, finding and keeping competent officers is far more difficult. There are a lot of experts on policing out there, the truth is most of those experts have no idea what they’re talking about. 

    • #19
  20. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    The officers that you want to keep are already leaving police work in record numbers. Some are being hired by cities that respect police work, and there is a difference between between hero-worship and respect. Those officers leaving know the difference. Standards have been lowered in cities like Chicago.

    You can always find call takers, finding and keeping competent officers is far more difficult. There are a lot of experts on policing out there, the truth is most of those experts have no idea what they’re talking about. 

    My sister and BIL are struggling with this. I think if they choose not to leave, they should arrest law breakers and put the onus on the prosecutors. Let them let their arrests walk. Don’t let the failure be on the heads of the cops, let it be on the prosecutor’s office (an elected position).

    • #20
  21. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Stina (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    The officers that you want to keep are already leaving police work in record numbers. Some are being hired by cities that respect police work, and there is a difference between between hero-worship and respect. Those officers leaving know the difference. Standards have been lowered in cities like Chicago.

    You can always find call takers, finding and keeping competent officers is far more difficult. There are a lot of experts on policing out there, the truth is most of those experts have no idea what they’re talking about.

    My sister and BIL are struggling with this. I think if they choose not to leave, they should arrest law breakers and put the onus on the prosecutors. Let them let their arrests walk. Don’t let the failure be on the heads of the cops, let it be on the prosecutor’s office (an elected position).

    Tough call for them, I guess. Policing is more dangerous when the top doesn’t have one’s back.

    • #21