The Trumpian storming of the Capitol and the protests of the Black Lives Matter movement are two peas in the same pod. They are political frustration and, ultimately, political violence emerging in a society that is ever less civil and ever more divided.
Though the two sides are arrayed in the public mind as opposites, they are fundamentally the same.
One held a nation hostage for a summer, the other turned a nation upside down in a day.
Each points to the center of its movement and demands to be called a peaceful protest, and refuses to accept responsibility for the violence at the fringes which is an intrinsic and inescapable part of its whole.
The prime difference is that one is endorsed and supported by the power bases of popular culture, and the other is hated and opposed by them. And so it is that voicing opposition to BLM can lead to social and economic shunning and destruction, as can voicing support for Donald Trump or conservative principles.
The elite power centers of progressive American society have made BLM a mandatory article of cultural faith. Those who fail to embrace it are shunned and black listed, like communists in 1950s America or non-communists in 1950s Russia. The orthodoxy of the day, in a society increasingly hostile to divergent viewpoints, demands a level of enthusiastic support for BLM that is reminiscent of the zeal with which North Koreans clap for their Beloved Leader.
The marching Trump supporters, on the other hand, are publicly shunned and shamed, with racism and white supremacy the only acceptable public explanation for their existence or passion.
And so it is that BLM demonstrators are deified and Trump demonstrators are demonized.
One is the very essence of American purpose and purity, the other is the living threat to that very purpose and purity, at least as you hear the story told on the evening news.
And yet, again, the two are in principle exactly the same.
Both are intensely aggrieved, and that is because they both are, to some degree, believing a lie. The 2020 election was not stolen from Donald Trump and America’s police officers are not brutish enforcers of structural racism. Each chooses the role of victim, based at least in part on falsehood, a folklore of the fold, which drives them to a seething anger.
And in the case of them both, that anger fuels a defining hatred that boils over into predictable violence.
Both simultaneously claim virtue but do vice.
And so it is that America’s cities burned and their businesses boarded up, and a Capitol Police officer was killed and 50 of his colleagues were injured. Main Street was destabilized, and so was Pennsylvania Avenue, as each group demanded its rights and ignored the rights of others.
Each is engaged in a moral crusade, as they see it, where the majority of participants claim clean hands and blame destruction and death on infiltrators or others.
And both are wrong.
BLM demonstrations are only peaceful to a degree, and the Trump demonstration in Washington was only peaceful to a degree. Both were part of events which can only be called insurrection. As police officers are spit on – by both groups – and property is damaged and stolen – the Speaker’s lectern is the flatscreen of the right – the similarities become more clear. Evil is evil and wrong is wrong, and a mob is a mob.
Whether the anchorman praises you or curses you, whether the school teachers glorify you or vilify you, riot is riot and the facilitators and fellow marchers of rioters are still nothing but a mob. If you drive the getaway car, you’re still a bank robber. If you posted a smiling selfie from the first level of the Capitol you are just the same as the looters of an inner-city Walgreens.
In for a penny, in for a pound.
Pot, meet kettle.
Both sides come to “peaceful demonstrations” with helmets, gas masks, shields and big sticks. The only way to tell them apart is some have clenched-fist stickers and others have Gadsden flags. Their respective shock troops – antifa and the proud boys – are merely different corners of the same cesspool.
They hate each other and consider themselves polar opposites. They each consider themselves morally and socially justified, and condemn the other to lawlessness and bigotry.
But they are two peas in a pod.
Look in your enemy’s face, BLM and Trumpians, and recognize yourself.