It seems 90% of the media and 50% of Americans agree that the assault on the Capitol was both terrible, and unique. Not so fast…
I offer up some counter examples, in escalating severity.
- In May, 1967 as reported by the Sacramento Bee, “armed Negroes entered the state Capitol at noon … and 10 made their way to the back of the Assembly Chamber before they were disarmed and marched away by the state police.”
- In November, 2018 a crowd of protesters stormed into and occupied Nancy Pelosi’s office in the Cannon House Office Building . “All were charged for crowding, obstructing, or incommoding.”
- In October 2018 a crowd of protesters disrupted the nomination hearings for Brett Kavanaugh. According to NBC News “protesters pushed past a police line, storming up steps to pound on the doors of the U.S. Supreme Court”. USA Today reported “Pro-Kavanaugh Senators now face unprecedented levels of threats. Colorado Senator Cory Gardner even said his family members’ names and addresses were shared online, and his wife was sent a graphic video of a beheading.”
- In the summer of 2020 riots, self-described as a “black insurrection”, convulsed American cities over a period of weeks. The riots included attacks on police, and attempts to burn or occupy police stations and courthouses.
- In 1965 the Watts Riots occurred in Los Angeles. The first sentence in the Wikipedia article says the riots are “sometimes referred to as the Watts Rebellion or Watts Uprising”. According to Wikipedia, the efforts of 14,000 National Guard personnel were required to end the riots, which resulted in 34 deaths and $40 million in property damage.
- Worst of all in my feeble and incomplete list were the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, also described in Wikipedia as an insurrection or uprising. In the Wikipedia summary the toll included 63 deaths and property damage over $1 billion.
So how do we compare this list of political violence by the left, with the recent right-wing mob assault on the Capitol? My opinion, the Capitol mob is nowhere near the most severe.
Clearly there’s some “group think” going on. For example Associated Press, formerly a news service, is now posting opinion articles, without labeling them as ‘opinion’: Race double standard clear in rioters’ Capitol insurrection. This piece is worth a blog post all on its own. Part of the problem seems to be the idea that violence in favor of left-wing causes is acceptable, or maybe even good. I’d prefer that we re-consecrate the idea that all political violence is bad. No exceptions. Clearly we’re not there today.
The Bottom Line
There’s been a fair amount of political violence in the course of US history. It may have begun in Washington’s administration with the Whiskey Rebellion. Maybe it began earlier – the American Revolution! (One of my favorite sayings is “This is not flipping Canada!”.) Two points:
- Let’s not suggest or believe that political violence is uniquely or mostly a right wing thing.
- Let’s all agree that political violence, left or right, is not acceptable. It should stop.