Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Trump’s rally: the media is the dog

Jerry Stratton, January 13, 2021

Trump marchers at Capitol

At the Capitol grounds, people are mostly talking about the cold (or heat, depending on whether they were from Florida or Iowa).

I went to DC on Tuesday, January 5, thinking it would be interesting to see a Trump rally, and have some good food in the process. Most of the DC restaurants I enjoyed the last time I was there several years ago seemed to still be open, at least for delivery. And of course I also wandered local bookstores and record stores.

I also expected that the reporting on the event would be vastly different from the experience, and that the difference between what I saw first hand and what the media reported would be interesting.

I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building, to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.

Trump did not incite a riot. He asked us to march peacefully to the capitol, and then if Congress didn’t call for an investigation into fraud, if states didn’t improve their election processes in the future, for us to go home and primary politicians who oppose open elections. And to work for election security in state legislatures. There was nowhere where he asked for, implied a need for, or gave any impression of a desire for, any action other than going home and starting a long term political engagement.

Literally everyone I saw at the rally heard the same thing I did. People who say Trump called for violence have to theorize special mental powers that send invisible commands:

He has a way of inciting his followers to do things…

It reminds me of the quote that if you can hear the dog whistle, you’re the dog.

The thing we adore about these dog-whistle kerfuffles is that the people who react to the whistle always assume it’s intended for somebody else. The whole point of the metaphor is that if you can hear the whistle, you’re the dog. — James Taranto (Lutey Tunes)

Violence is an article of faith with the media that can’t be countered by asking them to actually listen to the speech. But I was there, and listened; his speech was literally the opposite of calling for violence. He said that if congress didn’t do the right thing, we should go back home and primary the hell out of them when they were up for reelection.1

Trump rally

Looking behind me at one point during Trump’s speech, down the National Mall up to the Washington Monument.

For that matter, where I was, there was nothing even close to rioting, just milling around talking about the weather on the Mall and the grounds around the Capitol—people from Texas and Florida complaining about the cold, people from Michigan and Iowa loving the warmth.

When I arrived at the Capitol there were empty cars, including empty police vehicles, all over the parking lot in front of the building, and not a single one that I could see was molested in any way. No flipping, no burning, no broken windows, not even walking on them. People just walked around them, talked with their friends, and sang some of the eighties rock song that had been playing during the rally.

When I left the Capitol it wasn’t because I was worried about rioting but because I was bored. I started leaving a few minutes before Mayor Bowser’s curfew order came over the cell network. I was just at the edge of the grounds when I heard my and everyone else’s phones go off with the curfew order.2 I stopped and looked around; where I was, I couldn’t see any reason for it.

DC appeared not to have noticed it either. I walked over a mile from the Capitol to NOMA3 where my hotel was. I walked back out again to eat. Traffic, business, people strolling, continued as normal. Businesses weren’t afraid of being vandalized and looted, nobody was boarding up their windows. All the things we’ve seen in the past year elsewhere, I didn’t see in DC that evening.

I should add that the curfew was announced well ahead of time, leaving me enough time to walk the mile and change back to my hotel, find an interesting restaurant that was open, walk there, have a drink, eat oysters and a lobster roll, return to my hotel by way of a Harris Teeter to get water, and open up the bread pudding I’d got as takeout from the restaurant after eating too much food to have dessert immediately after dinner.

Laos in Town Herban Bourbon

Washington in panic. This is not Seattle or Kenosha.

The next morning, DC continued on as normal. I walked over ten miles on Thursday, from pastry shop to bookstore to pastry shop to record store to pastry shop to bookstore4 to pastry shop… and everyone was open, all of the merchants were happy to see customers, police presence on the streets appeared to be minimal. No different than it was six years ago on my last visit except for a lot more masks.

In fact I was surprised at how little of a police presence there was even at the march. There were police at the intersections guiding the marchers down Constitution Avenue (and, I would expect, down Pennsylvania Avenue) and a few around the edges of the Capitol grounds. I didn’t see any up at the Capitol building itself. I hadn’t known at the time that Mayor Bowser had refused additional security, a strange decision when you expect tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people to show. It’s very easy for a handful of bad actors to hide in a crowd that big.

I’ve deliberately avoided media coverage of the event, partly because of Jefferson’s admonition that people who watch the news are more ignorant than those who don’t5 but because I wanted to keep my memories clean while writing this. I wanted to report what I saw and heard, with my own photos to help.

It was impossible to stay completely clean, of course, and this would be a very short post if I limited myself to what I saw—nothing was happening. The media coverage seems to vastly exaggerate or completely misreport even the video they’re highlighting. One video I couldn’t resist watching is titled by multiple media outlets using it as “Video shows police officers stand by and do nothing as rioters charge into US Capitol”.

View video.

Protestors open doors, walk up stairs, frightening media but no one else.

Take a look at those “charging rioters”. The reason I couldn’t resist watching it was because the comments below the video were completely at odds with the headline. The commenters had to be lying. There is no way that charging rioters walked up the stairs politely to one side.

I should rephrase that. Either random commenters on the Internet were lying, or the newspaper was lying, and I honestly thought that the comments had to at least be exaggerations.

So I watched it. Against all odds6 random Internet commenters were more trustworthy than major news sources. I’m not happy with the language, but either the police let the protestors in or the doors (to a public building) were unlocked; the protestors were not going somewhere they weren’t allowed to go. They stop with the language after they enter the building; they go only where the police allow them to go. After they walk past the police, they file in an orderly manner up the stairs. All but one of them stay to the side to allow down traffic past. And that one person immediately moves to the side with the rest when they see another person coming down the stairs.

Are they rioting or going on a Capitol tour?

This isn’t just my interpretation. Take a look at the person coming down the stairs. That lone person going the other way did not seem in any way frightened or worried at having to pass those “charging rioters”.

Those are the most orderly charging rioters I have ever seen footage of. And I didn’t pull this from a friendly site, but from a newspaper that tried to characterize the people filing past officers and keeping to the side to let traffic pass as “charging” and “rioting”.

American Pravda

Obviously, I can’t know about rioting somewhere I wasn’t. Nor can I know whether Trump is right or wrong about election fraud. The reason I can’t know about the former is that the media is clearly completely untrustworthy. And the reason I can’t know the latter is that data that should be open to inspection is hidden. It freaks me out that so many election officials chose to hide what ought to be public data. All we have to go on are indicators that sure seem to indicate massive fraud.

An acquaintance did see some illegal activity; one person tried to break a window—and everyone around them pushed the window-breaker away to stop them, yelling obscenities about antifa. Michael Yon says he saw a lot of similar activity and also attributed it to antifa.

This was a camera-rich environment. Those caught on video smashing windows, attacking people, and breaking things, should be prosecuted, just as the rioters burning cars, smashing windows, and attacking people should have been prosecuted over the last year. And those who tried to stop the criminal activity should be praised. I suspect there were more Trump supporters among the latter than the former.

But more protests as polite as the one displayed in this video and what I saw in DC—especially if there’s a history of holding true rioters accountable—and we might start having honest conversations in politics again.

Minus the eighties rock.

District Doughnut donuts Je ne sais quoi Tatte Pistachio Cherry

I’ll admit, I might have overdone it on the pastries. In my defense, I walked thirty miles over three days.

In response to 2020 in Photos: For photos, memes, and perhaps other quick notes sent from my mobile device or written on the fly during 2020.

  1. Probably long-term engagement by voters is what frightens the media most.

  2. Essential workers were exempt from the curfew; DC includes “the media” as essential workers.

  3. NOMA is “North of Massachusetts Avenue”.

  4. I picked up a copy of Arned Hinshaw’s Heartbreak Ridge and Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery, both of which are great books.

  5. … the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. — Thomas Jefferson (Letter to John Norvell, June 14, 1807)

  6. Yes, there is an invisible sarcasm tag around that phrase. SARC tags are not XHTML compliant.

  1. <- Dark Joke Returns