A tale of two riots
Insurrection is apparently in the eye of the beholder
It was a small-scale insurrection. Masked hoodlums swarmed past the fences and assaulted police officers. After breaking past the law enforcement defenses, the mob set vehicles on fire and attacked government buildings. Ultimately, police were able to break the attack and a large number of rioters were carted off to jail.
This wasn’t the scene in a third-world country and it also wasn’t January 6. This time it was a police training facility near Atlanta.
The site, which has been dubbed “Cop City” by protesters, is not new to either controversy or violence. Atlanta’s ABC-13 noted that the 85-acre Atlanta Public Safety Training Center has been derided by leftist radicals as a training center for "urban warfare." Environmental radicals say that too many trees are being cut to build the facility. Cop City has been the site of previous protests including one in January in which a protester was killed by police.
Video of the attack shows what seems to be a pre-planned and coordinated assault. The rioters wore masks and black clothing. Many carried what police called “commercial-grade” pyrotechnics. After breaching the fence, the attackers set several construction vehicles on fire. The video looks like a war zone.
"This group changed their clothing into all-black, black-out clothing. They had shields that were like riot-type shields, homemade shields. They had bags of rocks. They had fireworks. They had Molotov cocktails," Chief Assistant District Attorney Peter Johnson said on Fox Five.
Authorities say that they detained 35 people after the melee. Twenty-three of those have been charged with domestic terrorism.
I think that is appropriate. The scenes from Atlanta looked like a rural (despite being a big city, Atlanta has a country feel due to its large number of trees; it has been called “the City in a Park”) version of Portland Antifa rioting.
The Atlanta attack was not the product of home-grown radicals, however. An Atlanta Police Department tweet picturing the 23 activists accused of domestic terrorism shows detainees from across the country (and one from France), but only two are from Georgia.
I’d hate to see Atlanta attract more of the Antifa types that have infested central Portland. I don’t think many Georgians want that at all.
Portland’s experience shows that when political violence goes unchecked, it encourages the other side to arm themselves. This creates a cycle of escalating aggression, a street-level arms race, that ultimately ends with armed gangs rumbling in the streets and dead bodies piling up on both sides. At the same time, residents and businesses are running for cover and leaving if they can. The best way to handle political violence is to quash it early.
In the wake of the incident, Fox News went on record to condemn members of the media for covering for the rioters and minimizing the attack.
"I've seen the pipeline, and you see the leftist ideology that sort of comes out in these classrooms and goes to the newsrooms, and so that's why they are filled with these people who are not only sympathizing with this stuff but actively covering for it,” Off the Press Senior Editor Rob Smith told Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer on "America's Newsroom."
Smith may not have been aware of which network he was appearing on, but, as my parents used to say when I was growing up, “When you point the finger at someone else, you’ve got three pointing back at you.”
In this case, Smith’s rant was particularly poorly timed because it coincided both with Tucker Carlson’s airing of carefully selected clips of footage of the January 6 insurrection and Fox News’s recent embarrassments (as if that were possible) from ongoing revelations from its Dominion defamation suit.
On his show this week, Carlson, given full access to video of the insurrection by Speaker McCarthy, tried to make the case that the events of January 6 have been blown out of proportion and “the overwhelming majority” of the Capitol rioters were “peaceful, they were orderly and meek. They weren’t insurrectionists. They were sightseers.”
In other words, Carlson is not only sympathizing with the insurrectionists, he is actively covering for them.
The clips that Carlson shows are without audio and context is lacking. For example, when Carlson shows rioters “peacefully” wandering around the Capitol, it may not be understood by his viewers that their mere presence in the building at that time was illegal. Many had to fight past Capitol Police to get to that point and it should have been glaringly obvious that sightseeing in abandoned offices and congressional chambers was wrong. I would bet that a lot of the people in his videos have been convicted of various charges, based on what prosecutors could prove about their activities that day.
Some Trump supporters are keying in on video that allegedly shows insurrectionists such as Jacob Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman,” being escorted through the halls of the Capitol by police officers. They acted like “tour guides,” Carlson said.
US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger took strong exception to Tucker’s claims in a memo to his department, saying the show was “filled with offensive and misleading conclusions.”
Chief Manger added that the officers inside the Capitol were badly outnumbered and the “officers did their best to use de-escalation tactics to try to talk rioters into getting each other to leave the building.”
“The program conveniently cherry-picked from the calmer moments of our 41,000 hours of video,” Manger wrote. “The commentary fails to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments.”
Quite a few top Republicans are siding with the police chief over Tucker. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told NBC News, “It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.”
North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis took a stronger stance, calling Tucker’s claims “bullshit.”
“I was here. I was down there and I saw maybe a few tourists, a few people who got caught up in things,” Tillis added. “But when you see police barricades breached, when you see police officers assaulted, all of that ... if you were just a tourist you should’ve probably lined up at the visitors’ center and came in on an orderly basis.”
Tillis continued, “I just don’t think it’s helpful, but I do think it’s important to point out that that’s happened on both ends of the political spectrum and they’re both wrong.”
And that is undoubtedly true. If you’ve been paying attention, you have seen both right-wing and left-wing violence in our recent history. There is a violent radical wing on both sides, but what the parties choose to focus on is a game of tit-for-tat in which they cherry-pick the bad from the opposition and the good from their own side to argue about who is worse.
Let me settle the argument. You’re both awful. You should both be ashamed. Stop nitpicking the other side and start policing the nuts on your own team.
And as to the age-old question of what constitutes an insurrection, once again I’ll defer to the dictionary, which calls it “an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.”
Under that definition, both January 6 and the Cop City attack are insurrections. I’m going to go out on a limb and also say that participants in both shameful events were domestic terrorists and should be treated as such, regardless of party affiliation.
SURGERY UPDATE: I’m two weeks out from surgery as of yesterday. I’m recovering physically, but the real struggle has been mental. I’ve been coping with concerns about whether the doctors got everything while also dealing with some of the side effects of prostate surgery.
I really appreciate everyone who has prayed for me and I encourage you to keep it up. I credit prayer and God’s Grace with getting me this far. I think this experience is deepening my relationship with Christ as I spend more time in prayer and scripture reading. I don’t know how I could deal with this otherwise.
My family, church, and friends have been great as well. That’s especially true of my wife, Debi. She has been a rock throughout the ordeal as well as being a top-notch nurse.
I was a deep funk last week, but now I’m finally feeling more like myself. Thank God.
“Jesus Today,” a devotional book by Sarah Young, has been an enormous help. If you’re going through dark times, I recommend it. Psalm 143:8 is a verse that has come to mean a lot to me in recent days:
Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to you.
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Not a great day for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):
"A lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was arrested and charged with domestic terrorism over the violence that broke out in Atlanta on Sunday in relation to protests of a planned training facility for police officers in the city, the SPLC has confirmed."
"'An employee at the SPLC was arrested while acting — and identifying — as a legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). The employee is an experienced legal observer, and their arrest is not evidence of any crime, but of heavy-handed law enforcement intervention against protesters,' the SPLC said in a statement on Monday."
If this remains being classified as domestic terrorism, I suspect that this fellow had some professional obligations to not be a part of the problem, but to be working with the police to be part of the solution.
Good news of your active recovery from surgery!