How Trump Rioters & BLM Rioters Are The Same... And How They're Not
Updated: Jan 21, 2021
I haven't formally written on the Capitol Hill Riot yet because I didn't want to simply put out an outrage piece, and until now I hadn't found an angle that I thought was worth writing about.
I think this one warrants a conversation though, and I ask that both my BLM friends and my Trump supporting friends bear with me as I walk through this.
To frame where my head is at it's worth re-visiting my reaction to the BLM protests turned riots over the summer of 2020.
Here is some of my real-time reaction to those events...
I was (and still am) angry at how the BLM riots went over the summer. I publically, in real time, called rioters idiotic and counterproductive, looters and instigators "garbage people," and consistently expressed hate for those who were derailing a very important cause.
So let's talk about Jan 6th...
HOW THE TRUMP RIOT AND BLM RIOTS ARE SIMILAR
The few represent the many
Let me just start with something we can all agree on so we establish that it is possible there are similarities for those who don't believe there can be any.
The best estimates I've seen for total crowd size on the Jan 6th "Save America" rally are between 10,000 and 20,000. One group took the best high angle images they could find and tried to figure the number out by square foot per person, and they came out to around 10,000, but most put the crowd size estimate above that.
Let's double that and give it 20k.
Right now there are around 250 cases that have been opened by the FBI related to the Capitol Hill Riot. It's expected that number lands at 300+ by the time all the arrests are made. That's just the number of people that did something you can actually charge them and arrest them for, it doesn't include all the people that stood by and watched it happen.
So 250 / 20,000 = 1.25%
Trump supporters, 1.25% of your crowd (at least temporarily) derailed your cause.
Over the summer there were BLM protests in ~2,400 unique locations across the country. The best estimates I can find are between 15M and 26M people marched.
There were approx. 14,000 arrests made related to BLM rioting according to the FBI and DOJ. That's just the number of people that did something you can actually charge them and arrest them for, it doesn't include all the people that stood by and watched it happen.
(Context on violent demonstrations here: https://www.practicallylibertarian.com/post/peaceful-protests) 14,000 arrests / 15,000,000 = 0.09%
BLM supporters, 0.09% of your crowd (at least temporarily) derailed your cause.
What do the Trump Riots and the BLM Riots have in common? A fraction of those that actually show up turn violent, but that fraction end up representing the movement.
It's frustrating, welcome to my world Trumpers.
It feels like the contract has been broken
The social contract of America is generally that we don't kill each other to get our way, we have collectively agreed that we'll vote and whoever's opinion gets the most votes that's the direction we're going to go together.
That's new. In human history the idea that you don't just kill the people that don't agree with you is a new concept. Religious wars, political wars, tribal wars, wars for literally any reason have been the norm across human history until really recently, relatively speaking.
There is a kink in our system however. If the opposition finds a way to strip your vote of it's power, it breaks the contract. If you have no say, then democracy turns into veiled tyranny and the default position that is fallen back to is violence.
In America that's a feature, not a bug. Here is a quote I'm sure you've seen recently...
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” - Thomas Jefferson
The idea that if the American government ever becomes tyrannical it's the right, and responsibility, of the American people to rise up and crush that tyranny by way of violence is as American as apple pie.
As an aside, on principle this is why I'm a 2A supporter while also acknowledging the fear I live with that my 3 children are going to get shot at their elementary school. There is a risk that needs to be accepted by all Americans, as devastating as it is when risk turns into reality, if we plan on maintaining our system in perpetuity. The government has to carry some level of fear of its citizenry. That sounds archaic, but we get too comfortable with the feeling that we've advanced beyond the barbaric when in reality we're balancing on a knife's edge.
Build a bunker.
Trump supporters feel like the social contract is broken, that their vote doesn't matter because the system is rigged. BLM supporters feel like the social contract is broken, that their vote doesn't matter because the system is rigged.
For Trump supporters it's "voting machines changed numbers, people stuffed ballot boxes with illegal votes, etc."
For BLM supporters it's "gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc." Or even when they do "win" the Democrats do almost nothing to remedy their plight.
(Context on solving problems in the Black community here: https://www.practicallylibertarian.com/post/blm-solutions)
The net result is a feeling of powerlessness, an inability to peacefully remedy the tyranny being perpetrated upon them.
It didn't get you anywhere
I think it's worth pointing out that in both cases, rioting didn't work.
That's the segment, riots don't work. Neither group got what they wanted through rioting.
:: jazz hands ::
HOW THE TRUMP RIOT AND BLM RIOTS ARE NOT SIMILAR
I actually wanted to stop at the similarities, but I just couldn't in good conscious leave it there without context... so here are the differences as I see them...
The premise doesn't hold up
An old friend of mine brought me back down to earth a little after my initial reaction to the Capitol Hill Riot by reminding me that the storming of the US Capitol in and of itself is not a bad thing (see crushing tyranny above).
THAT the Capitol was breached in a riot is not inherently bad, it's the WHY that separates the wheat from the chaff.
Trump supporters, I don't say this lightly... the election was not stolen from you.
I've seen all the videos, they get sent to me on a consistent basis, along with some decent memes. I know about the lady in Georgia re-running the batch of votes multiple times. I've seen the lady passing that paper behind her back to the guy standing behind her. I've seen the weird counts not aligning between vote totals, poll book totals, registered voters, etc.
With a full and complete understanding of all those things...
This election was thoroughly vetted for the large-scale systemic fraud that could have changed the outcome and was found to be legitimate.
There were ~65 lawsuits related to the 2020 election filed by the Trump campaign, and the scoreboard sits at 1-64. Those cases were filed in multiple states and were reviewed by judges across the political spectrum.
I personally looked at docs from around 15 cases before I remembered I had a life, it was mind numbing. I am not a lawyer, but some of this stuff is really easy to see why they lost.
When asked for hard evidence, time and time again they presented nothing, while they spent every day in the conservative press claiming stacks of "evidence." It's not that their "evidence" wasn't accepted in court, they didn't even present anything most of the time when it was time to put up or shut up.
64 out of 65 times a judge looked at these cases and said, "no." That or the Trump campaign dropped the lawsuit before they could say no.
Was there election meddling, yes. Was there voter fraud at a scale that could have changed the outcome? I was far more inclined to believe it before Trump went 1-64 in court.
Be angry about people meddling with the election, I am too. That is righteous anger, that lady that re-ran the same stack of ballots should be arrested if that's what's actually happening in that video (not presented in court by the Trump team so objectively we don't know).
Loosely related rant...
I am also angry that 3rd parties are excluded from the debates in the clearest censorship and idea suppression effort that exists, that Republicans and Democrats participate in hand-in-hand. That's election meddling too.
I am also angry at voter suppression methods that skew accepted IDs towards particular groups and away from others, that close polling locations, that remove ballot drop boxes, that reduce early voting periods that the working class depend on, etc. That's election meddling too.
Loosely related rant end...
Be angry, but separate election meddling from election stealing. If the election came down to 537 votes in FL then yes, election meddling can equal election stealing, but this wasn't close.
And yes, I get the math that 30k votes here and there change the electoral college map, and that's a great thought experiment, but when it was go time the Trump legal team came up empty. I'm moving on now...
This is where the clearest differentiator between the Trump Riots and the BLM Riots sits. The premise.
The premise of BLM is that Black people are regularly treated differently due to the color of their skin. That manifests itself in law enforcement, criminal justice, educational opportunity, career opportunity, and the list goes on.
There's a legitimacy to that claim. We can debate the reason for the bias, but the existence of bias is only disputed by those arguing in bad faith.
(Context on the policing of Black people: https://www.practicallylibertarian.com/post/why-black-men-are-policed-differently )
The premise of the Capitol Hill Riot was that the election was stolen. That doesn't seem to be the case when looking objectively at the facts that have been presented. The likes of Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Mike Pence, etc. don't believe the election was stolen and they all have the resources to look at it and a massive interest in it being overturned.
The premise of the Capitol Hill Riot doesn't hold up.
The impact of the desired end is different
BLM rioters' aim was to shock people into voting differently. It's a really, really, really stupid, counterproductive way to get your point across.
They wanted enough people to be scared enough that they felt compelled to change something. They were attempting to frighten enough votes out of people to effect change.
It is the lowest, dumbest way to operate in a democracy.
Trump rioters weren't interested in scaring people into voting differently (although they do that too occasionally during 2A marches), their aim was to take the government by force and throw out the democratic process. No matter how you feel about it, that was the endgame.
Both these things are wrong, but the latter is wrong with the added twist of also being a threat to the existence of the country itself. It still kind of blows my mind that the crowd that decries BLM for "hating America and American values" beat an officer with an American flag on their way to destroy American democracy.
SO, WHATS THE POINT IN COMPARING THESE THINGS
I, a BLM supporter, look at my friends who are Trump supporters (yes we can be friends), and see how frustrated they are that they're now represented in media primarily by images of a violent mob attacking the US Capitol.
I can empathize... although I have been relishing a bit in the irony that they're in the same space I occupied over the summer. When I'm engaging with my better self I can empathize is probably a better way of saying that.
Trump supporters, it sucks that a small fraction of your team did something stupid and now everyone looks at you as if you're them.
Not only can I commiserate as a BLM supporter, I can also commiserate as a Black man. When I'm seen walking down the street I am often viewed with trepidation because my skin color is/was represented by the small fraction of us that are criminals shown every night on the local news.
I couldn't write it without the context of where I believe there are differences, but hear what I'm trying to get across...there's more commonality here than there appears to be at first, and if we can see it maybe we can learn to see each other as more than simply the enemy.
Maybe we can stop immediately jumping on the worst possible version of the opposition to hold them up as representative of everyone in that camp. Maybe we can actually have a conversation without demonizing people.
Stay Curious. Please Share.