Washington Post Offers Sympathy, Hard-Luck Folk Songs For The MAGA Mob

Right Wing Extremism

This is the first line in a Washington Post article today about the MAGA mob that stormed the Capitol last month.

Jenna Ryan seemed like an unlikely participant in the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

And why is that?

She was a real estate agent from Texas.


She flew into Washington on a private jet.

My annoyance is rising.

And she was dressed that day in clothes better suited for a winter tailgate than a war.

All right, I get it. She's white. Do we have to chat about it all day?

The Post racially profiles Jenna Ryan, life-coach-slash-real-estate-agent-turned-insurrectionist, and concludes she's an “unlikely participant" in a domestic terror attack where she reportedly chanted, “Fight for freedom! Fight for freedom!" The fashion commentary is especially grating. I don't recall similar comments about Black kids arrested during the unrest in Ferguson or Baltimore, and baggy jeans and tank tops aren't exactly military issue, either.

Conservatives advised against law-abiding Black citizens wearing hoodies because gang members also enjoy not getting their heads wet, but it's unlikely that police will start randomly stopping white women dressed “for a winter tailgate."

Despite the appearance of apparent wealth, Ryan is dead-ass broke, which is a damn shame. It's tough when insurrectionists can't make ends meet.

[Ryan] was still paying off a $37,000 lien for unpaid federal taxes when she was arrested. She'd nearly lost her home to foreclosure before that. She filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and faced another IRS tax lien in 2010.

The Post reports that 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the January 6 siege had "prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades." Their collective bankruptcy rate — 18 percent — was twice as high as the American public. Creditors had sued a quarter of them, and 20 percent faced losing their homes.

This is all very sad. It's also selective empathy. I can't find similar stories about “rioters and looters" arrested last year in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, or Kenosha, Wisconsin. The focus is usually on financial losses suffered by the city and property owners. “Antifa" and occupants of “autonomous zones" are simply criminals — a threat to the public — not desperate people lashing out.

The financial problems are revealing because they offer potential clues for understanding why so many Trump supporters — many with professional careers and few with violent criminal histories — were willing to participate in an attack egged on by the president's rhetoric painting him and his supporters as undeserving victims.

Goddamnit, few members of the MAGA mob had “violent criminal histories" because they didn't live in overpoliced neighborhoods. Criminals can also have "professional careers." President of the United States is a profession.

Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a political science professor, told the Post:

I think what you're finding is more than just economic insecurity but a deep-seated feeling of precarity about their personal situation.

I can't imagine what that's like ... oh wait, I can.

And that precarity — combined with a sense of betrayal or anger that someone is taking something away — mobilized a lot of people that day.

Yes, the one-term loser spent almost five years radicalizing white supremacists, who often fit the same profile as “radical Islamic terrorists." Historically, it's usually white middle-class people who feel they are “losing status and power" as the condition of minority groups improve. That was the not-so-subtle theme behind “Make America Great Again" and the “forgotten" men and women.

The MAGA mob members have expectations greater than what life has so far offered them, and their entitlement is terminal. The police might consider this an unreasonable suggestion, but you really could drastically reduce the number of protests and especially riots if the police didn't unjustly kill unarmed Black people. The MAGA mob threw a tantrum because its preferred presidential candidate lost a free and fair election. Sure, their mad king lied to them, but it's reasonable to expect that grown-ass adults can process unpleasant facts without attacking Congress.

The Post digs deep into what led Jenna Ryan to the Capitol on January 6. It's enough for a racist Hallmark movie. When victims of police violence receive similar coverage, it feels like the intent is to rationalize their deaths not humanize their misdeeds.

[Washington Post]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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