FRIDAY, JANUARY 8, 2021
Morning Joe changes its tune: Who were all those people? Who were the people we're starting to see in all those photographs, in all that videotape?
Who were the people inside the Capitol, sometimes carrying furniture out, sometimes looting offices? Also, who were the people who stayed outside—the ones who didn't go in?
On the front page of today's New York Times, Tavernise and Rosenberg start trying to answer those questions. Due to the large number of people involved, it isn't the easiest job.
A whole lot of people were inside the Capitol, but even more stayed outside. In part for that reason, there will never be a bumper sticker which can tell us who they all were.
To their credit, the journalists are trying to develop some answers. As we read their report, we were struck by the thought that some of the people who entered the Capitol may not be especially sharp:
TAVERNISE AND ROSENBERG (1/8/20): Some of those who had also surged forward in the crowd seemed to show a bewildered wonder at what they were seeing in front of them. A few remarked on the opulence of the Capitol building and offices, a quality that seemed to confirm their suspicions about the corruption of Washington.
“Yeah look at all this fancy furniture they have,” said a man in a winter parka and red hat, standing on the west side of the Capitol and peering through the glass at empty desks, computer screens and ergonomic chairs. Several people banged on the windows with their fists, including one man who shouted, “Put the coffee on!” One man hit his head, not seeing the outer layer of glass was there, it was so clean.
Aaron, the construction worker from Indianapolis, and his two friends had heard people talking about going to Ms. Pelosi’s office. So once inside they decided to instead find Senator Chuck Schumer’s office. Both are Democrats.
“We wanted to have a few words” with Mr. Schumer, he said. “He’s probably the most corrupt guy up here. You don’t hear too much about him. But he’s slimy. You can just see it.”
But they could not find Mr. Schumer’s office. He said they asked a Capitol Police officer, who tried to direct them. But they appeared to have gotten nowhere near the minority’s leader’s office. They ended up smoking a few cigarettes inside the building—“We can smoke in our house,” Aaron said—and one of his friends, who would not give his name, joked that he had gone to the bathroom and not flushed.
A woman in a coat sat on the couch in a small room with a blue carpet and watched as a man ripped a scroll with Chinese lettering hanging on the wall.
“We don’t want Chinese bullshit,” the woman said.
For a while, the reporters' anecdotes continue along in that vein. For the record, "those who stormed the Capitol were just one slice of the thousands of Trump supporters who had descended on Washington." Or so the reporters say.
In fairness, there actually is a lot of opulence inside the Capitol Building. Also, there actually is a fair amount of big-money corruption there.
Of course, similar things can be said about our upper-end press. Similarly, many people within that guild aren't overwhelmingly sharp.
At any rate, one of Aaron's invader friends didn't choose to flush. A woman in a coat on a couch didn't want any Chinese bullshit.
In these passages, it sounded like the invasion was staged by Dumb and Dumber—and, to some extent, some of it surely was.
We humans! We're inclined to be somewhat tribal and somewhat dumb, no matter where you may find us. We're also somewhat inclined to end up in groups which may at times resemble cults, as was true with some of the people who were marauding within.
One such person, an unarmed woman, was shot and killed on Wednesday. As an aside, we've never seen so much disinterest, here in the overwrought streets of Our Town, at the news that an unarmed person was shot and killed by police! We've never heard the crickets so loud here in the streets of Our Town!
At any rate, some invaders sounded like Dumber. Others sounded worse.
It sounded like some were simply insane. Others seemed even more fallen:
TAVERNISE AND ROSENBERG: As the authorities try to identify those in the mob, some will be less hard to pin down than others. The group included some well-known figures from the conspiratorial right, including Jake Angeli, who has pushed the false QAnon claims that Mr. Trump was elected to save America from deep-state bureaucrats and prominent Democrats who worship Satan and abuse children. He was pictured sitting in Congress in a viking helmet and furs. Mr. Angeli, who is known as the “Q Shaman,” has been a fixture in the pro-Trump protests in Arizona since the election, and there are indications that he and other right-wing activists had planned to spark a confrontation with authorities ahead of Wednesday’s rally.
There were also leaders from the Proud Boys, a far-right group whose participants have espoused misogynistic and anti-immigrant views, such as Nick Ochs, a failed Hawaii state legislature candidate and member of a collective called “Murder the Media.” Chris Hood and members of his National Socialist Club, a neo-Nazi group, posted photos on Telegram from outside the Capitol on Wednesday. And the Three Percenters, a far-right armed group, were seen gathered in Washington’s Freedom Plaza on Tuesday night, most wearing helmets and Kevlar vests adorned with the group’s symbol, a Roman numeral three.
Some invaders may be something resembling insane. They may believe that Pelosi and Schumer are cannibalistic child abusers. Also, Pizzagate! They may have been driven by that!
Others are violent haters, members of "militias." They paraded in Viking helmets and furs, but also in Kevlar vests.
Along the way, we're now told, something like fifty officers were injured during the invasion. We're told that some of these officers were injured when they were attacked with lead pipes.
We're told that something like fifteen officers have been hospitalized. One officer lost his life.
(Yevtushenko: "When a person dies, what is lost is not nothing.")
Today, on the basis of this new information, Morning Joe flipped on one of its group talking-points.
Yesterday, the children on the exciting program kept dropping dark insinuations about Capitol Police posing for selfies with the invaders. This morning, while playing the exact same videotape, the children effusively praised the officers for all the courage they'd shown.
Yesterday, the program's backup videotape made no earthly sense. Today, that very same tape was explicitly cited as proof of one officer's courage.
For the record, Joe and Mika and Willie were asking a perfectly valid question today. They were asking why the force had been understaffed and poorly supported when the invasion began.
They were asking about the inadequate planning, an important question to ask. By today, they were even blaming Mayor Bowser for what had come about.
Ever so slowly, information will develop concerning the lack of adequate planning. Slowly, we'll get a better idea of how Wednesday's security breakdown occurred.
As we move slowly in that direction, "journalists" will leap into the void. They'll offer pleasing narratives which focus solely on race. After decades of total disinterest, this comes close to being the only play our "journalists" currently know.
This morning, the instant novel is everywhere. Apples are being compared to oranges, with kumquats and raisins thrown in.
The Storyline tends to be the same, and it's highly pleasing. We humans! In the streets of all our towns, information develops slowly. Narrative travels quite fast.
These Elite Journos Today! They keep inventing our modern Babel, a nation populated by tribes which can't speak to each other. No one has done this more than Trump, but it's also the way our famous journalists are strongly inclined to play.
Late Tuesday night, in Georgia, the newly-elected Senator Warnock worked from a different songbook. In a familiar, measured way, he promised to speak to all the people. He left no voter behind.
"Will we continue to divide, distract and dishonor one another? Or will we love our neighbors as we love ourselves?"
This was part of what the newly-selected senator chose to say.
"Will we seek to destroy one another as enemies, or heed the call towards the common good, building together what Dr. King called the beloved community?" He said he would speak to all the people—even, imaginably, to those who aren't thoroughly sharp.
Following the footsteps of Dr. King, he said he'd speak to all the people, even perhaps to the fallen. Jesus Christ once said the same thing, and look where it got him!
He said he'd speak to all the people, even perhaps to the Morning Joe gang.
He said he'd speak to all the people. All the people! Remember them?