A mob of older people from unfashionable zip codes somehow made it all the way to Washington, D.C., probably by bus. They wandered freely through the Capitol, like it was their building or something. They didn’t have guns, but a lot of them had extremely dangerous ideas. They talked about the Constitution, and something called “their rights.” Some of them made openly seditious claims. They insisted, for example, that the last election was not entirely fair. The whole thing was terrifying. And then, as you’ve been told so often, they committed unspeakable violence. By the time thousands of soldiers arrived to restore order, an unarmed woman, an Air Force veteran, lay dead. To this day, that woman is the one completely verified casualty of the insurrection, the only person whose death we can say definitively was caused by specific events on January 6th. We know how she died.
The funny thing is, you almost never hear that woman’s name. Possibly that’s because she wasn’t a Democratic member of Congress, or even a Joe Biden voter. She was a protestor. Her name was Ashli Babbitt. She was 35.
We still don’t know who shot Ashli Babbitt, or why. No one will tell us. But then, when you’re fighting insurrectionists, you don’t have to explain yourself. You just hyperventilate about QAnon, and then you do whatever you want. When a group of sad, disenfranchised people who have been left out of the modern economy show up at your office, you don’t have to listen to their complaints, not for a second. Why would you? You thought listening to people’s complaints was democracy? No, these people threaten democracy. You can even shoot one of them, if you want, and get away with it. Killing people without explaining yourself is an established part of counterinsurgency. If you don’t believe it, check out what happened in the Second World War.
Until late last month, a man called Michael Sherwin worked for the administration as a prosecutor in Washington. Sherwin bragged that his office rounded up about 400 people who were in or near the Capitol on Jan. 6. You may be wondering if 400 people really committed crimes that day. It depends how you define “crime.” Here’s Michael Sherwin’s definition:
MICHAEL SHERWIN: After the 6th, we had an inauguration on the 20th. So I wanted to ensure, and our office wanted to ensure that there was shock and awe, that we could charge as many people as possible before the 20th. And it worked because we saw through media posts that people were afraid to come back to D.C. because they’re like, “If we go there, we’re gonna get charged.” … We wanted to take out those individuals that essentially were thumbing their noses at the public for what they did.
So now it’s clear. It wasn’t that 400 people broke actual laws. No, their crime, said the federal prosecutor, was “thumbing their noses at the public,” meaning the Democratic Party. It wasn’t “insurrection.” It was showing disrespect to Joe Biden and his enforcers like Michael Sherwin, and that can’t happen.