“Big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” Donald Trump tweeted before Christmas. “Be there, will be wild!” On New Year’s Day, he tweeted again: “The BIG Protest Rally in Washington, D.C. will take place at 11:00 A.M. on January 6th.” On January 5th: “I will be speaking at the SAVE AMERICA RALLY tomorrow on the Ellipse at 11AM Eastern. Arrive early—doors open at 7AM Eastern. BIG CROWDS!” The posters called it the “Save America March.” What happened that day was big, and it was wild. If it began as a protest and a rally and a march, it ended as something altogether different. But what? Sedition, treason, a failed revolution, an attempted coup? And what will it be called, looking back? A day of anarchy? The end of America?
Trump called the people who violently attacked and briefly seized the U.S. Capitol building in order to overturn a Presidential election “patriots”; President-elect Joe Biden called them “terrorists.” In a section of “Leviathan” called “Inconstant Names,” Thomas Hobbes, in 1651, remarked that the names of things are variable, “For one man calleth Wisdome, what another calleth Feare; and one Cruelty, what another Justice.” On the other hand, sometimes one man is right (those people were terrorists). And, sometimes, what to call a thing seems plain. “This is what the President has caused today, this insurrection,” Mitt Romney, fleeing the Senate chamber, told a Times reporter.
“Insurrection” seems perfectly appropriate to me. The discussion seems endless…sometimes. Folks responsible for that quality of discussion are guilty of making the event seem irrelevant.
For what it’s worth, I think any and all of the crimes committed in Washington, DC, should be prosecuted. Not just the one day’s worth.