New York Times Prints Gushy Love Letter To The January 6 MAGA Mob
We thought we’d agreed that insurrections were bad, but the New York Times has taken a different perspective: What if insurrectionists are just like you but more inclined to coup? That was the theme of its fawning profile Sunday: "For Many Who Marched, Jan. 6 Was Only the Beginning.” That’s an ominous title and the subhead’s not much better: "To many of those who attended the Trump rally but who never breached the Capitol, that date wasn’t a dark day for the nation. It was a new start.”
It’s important to stress that the people who showed up for the so-called “Stop the Steal” rally weren’t simply objecting to Joe Biden’s upcoming presidency, as is their right as citizens. No, they’d all bought into the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen and that January 6 was a sort of electoral High Noon.
Times writers Elizabeth Dias and Jack Healy first introduce us to Paul Davis, who lost his job and his fiancée after attending the rally. For a while, he questioned the choices that got him here, but then “something shifted.”
Instead of lingering as an indelible stain, Jan. 6 became a galvanizing new beginning for Mr. Davis. He started his own law practice as a “lawyer for patriots” representing anti-vaccine workers. He began attending local conservative meetings around his hometown, Frisco, Texas. As the national horror over the Capitol attack calcified into another fault line of bitter division, Mr. Davis said his status as a Jan. 6 attendee had become “a badge of honor” with fellow conservatives.
None of that is good. It sound as if he’s been radicalized, and Davis even says that January 6 "definitely activated me more.” He claims he never entered the Capitol but he doesn’t sound as if he believes the violent insurrection shouldn’t have happened.
The Times suggests that we’ve been so obsessed with the MAGA mob that terrorized Congress members and brutally attacked cops that we’ve forgotten the little people — "the thousands who traveled to Washington at the behest of Mr. Trump to protest the results of a democratic election, the vast majority of whom did not set foot in the Capitol and have not been charged with any crime — who simply went home.”
We repeat: This wasn’t the Women’s March. There’s a difference between peacefully protesting the outcome of an election (perhaps because, deep down, you fear it will all end in a violent coup attempt four years later) and demanding that the election’s outcome is overturned. That’s the whole “stop” in "Stop the Steal.” They weren’t marching for future changes in mail-in voting. The speakers that day, specifically Donald Trump, weren’t so forward-looking. They were focused on the January 6 election certification, as if there was a chance to keep Trump in office forever. One marcher even declared: “I think we ought to have went armed, and took it back. That is what I believe.”
Another “marcher” insisted that he and his son never tried to ransack the Capitol that day — the Times's stated distinction, with or without a difference — but his son was arrested and charged for doing exactly that, in part because the son posted an update on Facebook about how he had ransacked the Capitol on Jan 6.
These are dangerous people who insist the insurrection suspects are political prisoners. Some are even running for political office. The Times notes that the reflections from those they interviewed “present troubling omen should the country face another close presidential election.” Talk about not getting it: The Big Lie had nothing to do with how “close” the election was (and it wasn’t). When a significant population of Americans rejects election outcomes they don’t like, based on fabricated subreddit “evidence,” democracy is over.
Many Jan. 6 attendees have shifted their focus to what they see as a new, urgent threat: Covid-19 vaccine mandates and what they call efforts by Democratic politicians to control their bodies. They cite Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandates as justification for their efforts to block his presidency.
A president's future, legal political action is hardly “justification” for overturning democracy. The Times would never uncritically run a similar paragraph about police protests, especially those that turned violent. Resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine has further fueled the MAGA mob’s derangement. Some even believe Trump’s support for the vaccine is a betrayal. If this monster he created rejects him, we probably won’t shed a tear.
Journalist Eric Boehlert called out the Times profile for its shocking lack of context. No Democrats are interviewed or even Capitol Police officers who held off the mob. A deadly coup attempt is presented as helping foster a “community” among like-minded fascists. The Times spent four years normalizing Trump voters and now the paper of cut-out bin records is normalizing a growing anti-democratic movement.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."