Gullible isn’t in the dictionary
Over the past decade the right-wing mediasphere has devolved from telling half-truths and lying by omission to simply propagating the most fantastical, stupid, and hateful lies imaginable. We of course all remember the bullshit birther hoax as well as Benghazi-gate — and who could forget the scandalous Buttery Males?
Most recently, everything from Facebook to Parler to Fox News primetime shows have been relentlessly spewing lies and stupid theories claiming that the 2020 presidential election was in some way fraudulent or stolen. These lies motivated the terrorist mob that overran the nation’s capital on January 6, 2021, egged on by the president of the United States.
The lies didn’t stop there, and they never will. But I thought it might be useful to let our more credulous friends on the right preview some of the lies that they are about to be told in the near future, in the pollyanish hope that they might be inoculated against believing them.
Trump neither encouraged nor approved of the violence at the Capitol
On January 6, hours into the melee at the Capitol, Trump released a video message in which he told his terrorist supporters, “You have to go home now…we have to have peace.” He repeated his baseless lies about election fraud, legitimizing the marauders’ grievance, and added, touchingly, “We love you. You’re very special.”
I suppose that some people may be gullible enough to think that Trump asking his supporters to be peaceful several hours after they violently stormed the Capitol is proof that he never wanted things to go as far as they did. Someone willing to believe this might also point to Trump’s encouragement of his supporters to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard” at the rally prior to the Capitol siege. But this single, passing mention of non-violence (juxtaposed with the catch-all modifier patriotically, in the sense of the Patriot Movement) does nothing the overcome the overwhelmingly bellicose rhetoric of Trump’s speech that morning. He used the word fight alone twenty times in his speech, telling his supporters not to be weak but to “show strength.” He told the mob that the ordinary rules governing behavior don’t apply: “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules.” Perhaps most tellingly of all, he said that the Republicans who really have courage are those who actually do certify Biden’s victory — meaning that they are endangering themselves in so doing: “I actually think, though, it takes, again, more courage not to step up and I think a lot of those people are going to find that out.”
And Trump didn’t just use this violent, warlike speech on the day of the attack. For weeks ahead of the events of January 6, 2021, Trump stoked up his supporters’ rage and raised their hopes that they had the power to overturn the election result. There can no doubt that Trump was encouraging his supporters to stop the count of the electoral college votes by any means necessary.
Trump and his allies didn’t know the rally would turn violent
Trump knew how his rhetoric would be taken by his supporters. As has been reported by Ben Collins at NBC News, Trumpists had made it totally clear that their intention was to occupy the Capitol building to stop the election certification. Media Matters reported the day before the attack that “Users in private Facebook groups are encouraging each other to break D.C. gun laws ahead of election protests.” For anyone as plugged in to social media a Trump is (er, was), there was no way of not knowing how things would turn out on January 6.
And recent comments from New Jersey Democrat Mikie Sherrill suggest that some GOP members of Congress may have played an even more active role. According to Representative Sherrill, members of Congress were seen taking groups of visitors on “reconnaissance” tours through the Capitol the day before the attack. This gels with the comments of Ali Alexander, the organizer of the Stop the Steal rally, who said that three GOP lawmakers helped plan the rally.
Republican members of Congress had nothing to do with the terrorist attack on the Capitol
Technically this lie is already out there, but it’s going to mature over the coming weeks, especially as the incoming Biden administration gets its investigative and prosecutorial ducks in a row.
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), who was the first Republican senator to announce that he would be objecting to the certification of the 2020 presidential election, has already tried to distance himself from the murderous mob by claiming that his objection to the election results was not tantamount to claiming the election had been fraudulent. Instead, Hawley’s line is that he was acting as a dutiful representative of his constituents, compelled to so object simply because so very many of them are so very, very dumb.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) took a similar tack, saying that the sunshine of a 10-day audit would either expose the voter fraud that had so far been undetected in dozens of lawsuits or prove to everyone’s satisfaction that Biden’s victory was legitimate.
One could applaud Hawley’s and Cruz’s savvy efforts to carve out plausible deniability for themselves, but then again one could also remember that they’re both cynical pieces of shit who don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. Even after the terrorist mob tore through the Capitol and murdered a police officer, Cruz and Hawley — and six additional Senate colleagues, not to mention 139 House Republicans — voted to validate the terrorists’ belief that the election had been a fraud. This is like condemning anti-Semitic violence while simultaneously saying that the Jews control everything and have to be stopped. There is little distance between Hawley, Cruz, and their other House colleagues and the terrorists who stormed the Capitol.
Less astute than Hawley and Cruz are fools like Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is now claiming that he never said the election had been stolen now that the conspiracy theorists he has encouraged for months have finally made good on their promises to bring violence to the Capitol. Sorry Jim, but just like the votes Biden beat Trump with, your lies have a paper trail.
Lawmakers were never in any real danger
This one has started to creep up in the wake of a January 12, 2021 Instagram Live posted by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in which the congresswoman stated that she “feared for her life” during the terrorist attack on the Capitol. This obviously makes sense: Not only were many in the mob armed, but they actually murdered a police officer. And few have been the target of disgusting right-wing vitriol and violent fantasies more than AOC.
Nevertheless, right-wing trolls on social media have already started to push back against the extremely sensible idea that a person might feel scared when they are surrounded by a violent mob. The fact is that the people in the Capitol didn’t just feel afraid; they were indeed in very serious danger. As the Wall Street Journalreported, “the rioters — some carrying nooses, bats, pipes, chemical irritants and zip ties than can be used to handcuff people — were feet or seconds away from the lawmakers they sought to confront.” And as Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) stated on ABC’s This Week, “We were very close to actually having members of Congress killed.”
The government is using the Capitol attack as a pretext for taking away your guns and curbing other rights
The right loves nothing more than to cry persecution whenever faced with fairness and justice. Glenn Beck, the Carrot Top of punditry, went on Tucker Carlson’s white power hour to compare the de-platforming of murderous terrorists and the president who incited them to the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two. Jim Jordan used his time during the January 13 impeachment proceedings to complain about “cancel culture” and the alleged censorship of conservative voices.
We should lump the hysteria about cancel culture in with other stupid prophecies like Tucker Carlson’s insistence that in Joe Biden’s America, no one will ever be allowed to go to a small neighborhood coffee shop ever again: “They want to make you drink Starbucks every day from now until forever no matter how it tastes, that’s the future they promise.” Because as we all know, if there’s one thing the progressive left really hates, it’s cute, hip, independent coffee shops.
The wonderful thing about this whole category of doom-and-gloom prognostications — which are about not only cancel culture and Frappuccinos but also death panels, gun confiscation, and economic catastrophe — is that they aren’t technically lies. You can’t prove a prediction untrue, and so you can’t say that Tucker Carlson is speaking falsehoods when he says that we’re all going to be forced to call a small a tall (which is obviously political correctness run amok) and a large a venti (which sounds vaguely foreign and therefore communist).
It’s impossible to anticipate all of the insane lie-predictions along these lines that the right will come up with in the first year of the Biden presidency, but we can all rest assured that none of them will ever be true.Politically Speaking