THURSDAY, JANUARY 14, 2021
Frank Rich, loud and clear: What happened at the Capitol building last Wednesday? More precisely, what was the instant experience of officers with the Capitol Police?
This morning, at Buzzfeed News, we found another account. In this excerpt, Emmanuel Felton is interviewing one officer:
FELTON (1/13/21): [Officers] are still grappling with the toll that last week’s siege exacted on them and their colleagues. The third officer described how close they had been to opening fire on the mob: After nearly two decades on the force, the officer said, “I’ve never, ever, ever had physically or mentally been in a place where I’ve felt the need to use my weapon, and I was about five seconds from doing it on that day. I felt legitimate concern for my safety and the safety of the other few officers that were around me because to say we were outnumbered is a gross understatement.”
The veteran officer said they were so outnumbered and unprepared that at times he had to stand by helpless as colleagues were viciously attacked. “We came to this door and they were like five or six officers on the other side,” they said. “And it was very heart-wrenching for me because there was nothing that we could do for them. There were literally hundreds, thousands of people on the other side of this door and [the officers are] literally [pinned] against the wall, but we can’t open the door because if we opened the door, they’re going to get crushed and these people are going to pretty much take over.”
These reports go on and on. They contrast with many instant claims which were heard in the streets of Our Town.
On Tuesday, we noted Roxane Gay's instant account in the New York Times. According to Gay, Capitol Police were "basically ushering these terrorists into the building and letting them have the run of the place for a ridiculous amount of time."
Gay was not a first-person observer. Despite her lack of first-hand knowledge, she quickly offered an account which closely mirrors the preferred narratives of many who live in Our Town.
Were Capitol Police ushering the rioters into the Capitol building and letting them have the run of the place? Later reporting has made it sound like Gay's account may be less than perfectly fair and balanced.
That said, many of Our Town's experienced pundits quickly produced such claims. At times like these, information develops slowly, Storyline flames up quite fast.
Anywhere Storyline exists, can Frank Rich be far behind? Here's what the one-time "butcher of Broadway" said at New York magazine:
RICH (1/8/21): Let’s not resort to euphemisms about what happened. There were no “very fine people” among these rioters. They are trash. They trashed the people’s house so they could feel right at home...
Another thing about them, by the way: They were almost exclusively white.
Also largely white: the docile police who facilitated their entry into the Capitol, who failed to curb their criminal behavior until way too much damage had been done, and who, in some cases, fraternized with the insurrectionists as if they were all members of the same secret society. Maybe, with time and investigation, we’ll learn that in fact they were.
Maybe, with time, we'll learn that—and then again, maybe we won't! Stir in one dose of racial invective and you have the secret sauce which is frequently ladled by the upper-end stars of Our Town.
Rich, of course, is a Harvard man; we'll assume he's an OK guy. He isn't as bad as a violent rioter, but in our view, his attitude has made him a part of the problem for a rather long time.
Others slimed the docile cops who let the white trash in. Reports of the injuries, and the one or two deaths, began to filter in later.
We'll leave this here, but we'll restate two key points:
First, Storyline travels much faster than info. Also, you can't necessarily trust or affirm the things you hear from those who align on your side.