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books I read in 2021

Last updated: Wed Feb 24 04:59:04 UTC 2021.

Some of the books I have read so far in 2021 (to be updated throughout the year):

Nicholas Carr: The Shallows (2010) – how the Internet is making us shallow thinkers and knowers. Books still matter, says this book.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat: Strongmen (2020) – compares and contrasts right-wing authoritarian rulers of the past hundred years, from Mussolini to Trump. In US history, Trump sticks out, but not in world history.

Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice (1813) – considered one of the best romance novels in the English tongue. I still prefer “Wuthering Heights” (1847) by Emily Brontë.

What I am reading now: I am reading the following three books of history in sync, century by century. I have already read chapters here and there of the first two, but now I am reading them cover-to-cover:

Audrey and Brian D. Smedley: Race in North America (2012) – a good, solid history of racism in North America, from its roots in Spain and England before 1619 to the beginning of the 21st century. The main source of several posts, like Spanish racial identity in 1492 and slaveries compared.

Nell Irvin Painter: Creating Black Americans (2006) – a good overview of US Black history from 1619 to 2006.



Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, editors: Four Hundred Souls
(2021) – subtitled “A Community History of African America, 1619-2019”. Divides Black US history into five-year periods and has an expert write a few pages about each, from “1619–1624: Arrival by Nikole Hannah-Jones” to “2014–2019: Black Lives Matter by Alicia Garza”. What a wonderful idea!

Suggestions: If you want to suggest or recommend a book, please leave it in the comments below! Thanks.

– Abagond, 2021.

See also:

536

Pride and Prejudice

“Pride and Prejudice” (1813) is a romance novel by Jane Austen, widely considered her best. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy cannot stand each other – but then

Warning: Spoilers!

fall in love.

The first sentence:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

It is set in Regency England (1795-1837), among the landed gentry of Hertfordshire, 40 km north of the centre of London. It is probably the early 1810s – there is still a war going on – or arguably the 1790s when Austen wrote the first draft. Austen is why so many romance novels are set in that time and place.

Virginia Woolf in “A Room of One’s Own” (1929) on Jane Austen and Emily Bronte:

“They wrote as women write, not as men write. Of all the thousand women who wrote novels then, they alone entirely ignored the perpetual admonitions of the eternal pedagogue – write this, think that.”

The Bennetts have five daughters. From oldest to youngest:

  • Jane (age 22)
  • Elizabeth – “Lizzy” (20)
  • Mary (18)
  • Catherine – “Kitty” (17)
  • Lydia (15)

The bachelorettes: Jane, Elizabeth, Lydia, and their cousin Charlotte Lucas.

The bachelors, listed from richest to poorest by yearly income in pounds:

  1. Mr Darcy – 10,000
  2. Mr Bingley – about 4,500
  3. Mr Collins – 2,000+ after Mr Bennett dies
  4. Mr Wickham – less than 1,500 (what a colonel makes)

They have first names, but they hardly ever use them.

Money: In those days, the middle class started at maybe 150, the upper class at maybe 1,000. Upper-class income comes mainly from owning land, sometimes by having a commission in the army or a living in the clergy. At 10,000 a year, Mr Darcy is one of the richest men in England.

Elizabeth’s father makes 2,000. But because he has no sons (see above), upon his death his wealth will fall to the nearest male relative – the cringey Mr Collins himself. That means Elizabeth will be left with just 40 to 50 a year. Thus the need for the five daughters to marry well.

Love: The book is not so much about love but about picking the right man to be happily married. Lydia marries for love, Charlotte for money. Both become cautionary tales for Elizabeth, our heroine. Elizabeth says she married for both – and for Mr Darcy’s excellent moral character – but arguably she fell in love not so much with Mr Darcy himself but with his vast, beautiful estate of Pemberley in the north of England. You be the judge!

Empiricism: This book most reminds me of – Thucydides! He wrote a history of the war between Athens and Sparta, which sounds like a very different book. But Austen and Thucydides not only write in the same classic prose style, but both take an observational or empirical approach to human beings, judging character and motive based on people’s rational self-interest and a close observation of what they do, not what they say. Something Elizabeth Bennett learns the hard way in the course of the book. Austen lays bare people as they are, not as we wish them to be.

– Abagond, 2021.

See also:

565

The Texas deep freeze of 2021 (since February 14th) brought the coldest temperatures in over 30 years. It covered most of the state with snow, a freak event, and knocked out power for as many as 4.5 million people, some of them for days.

The skyline of Dallas went dark. The water was no longer safe to drink for 13 million (45% of Texas) – because there was no power to treat the water. Only bottled or boiled water was safe. Most homes in Texas are not insulated, which led to to freezing temperatures even inside. Meanwhile, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who wants to be president some day, went to sunny Cancun, Mexico on holiday.

@balagonline on Twitter on February 18th:

“I don’t even have words to describe how awful things are down here in Texas. people are freezing to death in their homes and cars. no clean water or food anywhere. govt refusing to even acknowledge what’s happening. I have never experienced anything like this in my life”

Tim Boyd, the mayor of Colorado City, Texas on Facebook:

“The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING! I’m sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout!… If you are sitting at home in the cold because you have no power and are sitting there waiting for someone to come rescue you because your lazy is direct result of your raising! …. This is sadly a product of a socialist government where they feed people to believe that the FEW will work and others will become dependent for handouts…. I’ll be damned if I’m going to provide for anyone that is capable of doing it themselves!… Bottom line quit crying and looking for a handout! Get off your ass and take care of your own family!”

“Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish”

Greg Abbott, the governor:

“this shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America.”

Tucker Carlson of Fox News:

“[Texas is] totally reliant on windmills.”

Energy sources: In 2017, ERCOT, which runs the main power grid in Texas, got its electricity from these sources:

  • 39% natural gas
  • 32% coal
  • 17% wind
  • 11% nuclear
  • 1% sun

Or 18% green. The deep freeze affected them all, even nuclear.

Shortfall: Texas needed 75 GW of electricity to get through the deep freeze, but could only come up with 51 GW. The weather had knock out 43 GW. Worse still, the ERCOT power grid is cut off from the rest of the country, so it was on its own.

Deregulation: Texas politicians had cut off the power grid from the rest of the country to free it from US government regulations. That led to more competition and lower prices. Electricity is now 20% cheaper in Texas than in the rest of the US. But cutting costs meant little spare capacity. Even last summer there were brownouts, a warning sign. And power plants were not properly winterized. The other US power grids held up under the storm. Texas did not.

– Abagond, 2021.

See also:

528

Remarks:

My favourite Chloe x Halle song to date. This is on their second album, “Ungodly Hour” (2020). It has not (yet) been released as a single. The nostalgic feel of the song was done on purpose.

See also:

Lyrics:

[Intro]
Ooh, ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh

[Verse 1]
I need you to stop lookin’ at me like that
We are just friends now
You already had your chance
So I need you to stop sayin’ the things you say
I don’t wanna regret, no
The reason I didn’t stay

[Pre-Chorus]
If you keep actin’ so sweet
I might just wake up and leave
This boy that I pinky swore
We’d be together for sure
I can’t be thinking of you
When I’m alone with my boo
If you smile at me again
I may do somethin’ stupid

[Chorus]
Don’t make it harder on me
Don’t make it harder on me
I told you not to love me
And now you’re growing on me
Don’t make it harder on me
Don’t make it harder on me
I told you not to want me
But you don’t listen to me
And you never did

[Post-Chorus]
Ooh, ooh, ooh
Never did, never did (Ooh, ooh)

[Verse 2]
Why did we stop bein’ together now?
Oh, I just remembered
How many girls you had
So you need to stop bein’ so nice to me
‘Cause a part of me has moved on
But a part of me is so weak

[Pre-Chorus]
If you keep actin’ so sweet (So sweet)
I might just wake up and leave (Leave)
This boy that I pinky swore
We’d be together for sure
I can’t be thinking of you
When I’m alone with my boo
If you smile at me again
I may do somethin’ stupid

[Chorus]
Don’t make it harder on me (Don’t make it harder)
Don’t make it harder on me
I told you not to love me
And now you’re growing on me
Don’t make it harder on me
Don’t make it harder on me
I told you not to want me
But you don’t listen to me
And you never did

Source: Genius Lyrics.

In memoriam: Mary Wilson

Mary Wilson (1944-2021) of the Supremes seemed fine last week – but now she is gone, suddenly, a month before her 77th birthday. Cause of death yet unknown. Of the original three Supremes only Diana Ross remains – and she was born just 20 days after Wilson. The Supremes had 12 number-one hit songs in the US in the 1960s. Wilson sang on all but two of them: “Love Child” (1968) and “Someday We’ll Be Together” (1969). She is the only Supreme who was there from the beginning till the end in 1977: Florence Ballard left in 1967, Diana Ross in 1970. All three are from the Brewster-Douglass Housing Project in Detroit. Wilson wrote of her glory days in a best-selling book, “Dreamgirl” (1986).

Requiescat in pace.

See also:

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Cori Bush, a Ferguson protester turned Congresswoman, gave a speech in Congress on Thursday (February 4th 2021) about the Capitol Riot. Here is some of what she said (bolding mine):

I saw the tip top of flags. And then I saw more of the flags, and I could read words. And then, after I could read words, I could see people. And then I realized that people were approaching. So I hopped on the nearest elevator and left and made it back to my office safely. And when we came back into our office, we walked in, and we started to see on our televisions people breaching doors. And I remember thinking, “Is this actually what’s happening?”

The more I watched – and people were calling this a “protest.” Let me say this: That was not a protest. I’ve been to hundreds of protests in my life. I’ve co-organized, co-led, led and organized protests, not only in Ferguson, Missouri, alongside the amazing Ferguson frontline that most people don’t even acknowledge. They don’t even know their names. They don’t even know who died. They don’t even acknowledge the amazing people that put their lives and livelihoods on the line for our safety, believing that Black lives matter, because they actually do. And we shouldn’t have to say it; it should just be true. But it’s not evident in our society, when we have to continue to say, “My life matters,” and then they hit us with things like this.

And so, I remember sitting in the office with my team and just thinking to myself, “I feel like I’m back, at this very minute. I feel like I’m back.” I feel like this was one of the days out there on the streets when the white supremacists would show up and start shooting at us. This is one of the days when the police would ambush us from behind, from behind trees and from behind buildings, and all of a sudden now we’re on the ground being brutalized. It felt like one of those days. And I just remember taking a second, thinking, “If they touch these doors, if they hit these doors the way they hit that door, if they hit these doors and come anywhere near my staff” – and I’m just going to be real honest about it – my thought process was, “We bangin’ ’til the end. I’m not letting them take out my people. And you’re not taking me out. We’ve come too far.”

We can’t build a better society if members are too scared to stand up and act to reject the white supremacist attack that happened right before our eyes. How can we trust that you will address the suffering that white supremacy causes on a day-to-day basis in the shadows, if you can’t even address the white supremacy that happens right in front of you in your house? “Does your silence speak to your agreement?” is the question.

More.

– Abagond, 2021.

See also:

518

The Supremes: Baby Love

Remarks:

This song went to #1 in 1964 in both the US and UK. It did not make the Billboard US R&B chart: it was songs like this that made such a chart seem redundant – Black music and pop music in the US had in effect become one, from November 30th 1963 to January 23rd 1965.

See also:

Lyrics:

Baby love, my baby love, I need you oh how I need you
But all you do is treat me bad
Break my heart and leave me sad
Tell me what did I do wrong to make you stay away so long
‘Cause baby love, my baby love, been missing ya, miss kissing ya
Instead of breaking up
Let’s start some kissing and making up
Don’t throw our love away
In my arms why don’t you stay?

Need ya, need ya, baby love, my baby love

Baby love, my baby love, why must we separate my love?
All of my whole life through
I never love no one but you
Why you do me like you do, I guess it’s me
Ooh, need to hold you once again my love, feel your warm embrace my love
Don’t throw our love away, please don’t do me this way
Not happy like I used to be, loneliness has got the best of me my love

My baby love, I need ya oh how I need ya
Why you do me like you do
After I’ve been true to you
So deep in love with you
Baby, baby ooh
‘Til it hurt me, ’til it hurt me
Ooh baby love
Don’t throw our love away
Don’t throw our love away

Source: Songfacts.

In memoriam: Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson (1924-2021), one of my favourite actresses, one of the Black women I most admire, has left us at age 96. She was hugely underappreciated by Hollywood, something even they belatedly recognized by giving her an honorary Oscar in 2018 – just three years ago. In 1962 she became the first woman to wear an Afro on US television, several years before it became fashionable, before “Black is beautiful” was a thing. A big reason I liked her, apart from her acting talent, is because she only took parts that put Black women in a good light.

Requiescat in pace.

See also:

Bridgerton

“Bridgerton” (2020- ) is a US television show on Netflix based on the romance novels of Julia Quinn. Like Jane Austen’s love stories, it is set in Regency England of the 1810s, but one with a handsome Black duke! It is brought to us by Shonda Rhimes, she who gave us “Grey’s Anatomy” (2005- ) and “Scandal” (2012-18). It has just been renewed for a second season.

Regency England, the one in our universe, did not have a Black duke, handsome or otherwise. But it did have actual Black people (Sarah Baartman among them), got rich off of Black slavery, and had a queen, Queen Charlotte, who was part African by blood.

Queen Charlotte, circa 1784.

Cast: The Duke is played by Regé-Jean Page, who played Chicken George in the remake of “Roots” (2016). Lady Danbury, the mother figure in his life, is played by Adjoa Andoh. She was Martha Jones’s mother in “Doctor Who” in the late 2000s. Both are British actors. The rest of the cast is unfamiliar to me.

Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) and the Duke (Regé-Jean Page).

Lady Danbury:

“We were two separate societies, divided by colour, until a king fell in love with one of us.”

That is how “one of us” became queen, leading to the racial integration of England. Compare that to the actual England of the 2010s wherein a very light-skinned Black duchess (Meghan Markle) was a bridge too far (Megxit), where Britain has torn itself from the European Union to stop the immigration of fellow White people from Eastern Europe (Brexit), where period dramas like this are beloved, one suspects, because they present a mythical all-White-everything past – a trope “Bridgerton” upends.

Race: But what could have been sharp and profound commentary on race is mostly just turned into a sugarplum fantasy. It is colour blind in the worst sense – of mostly just ignoring the whole issue of race. One character does talk about how Blacks have to be exceptional to navigate the new Kumbaya England (pretty much the “twice-as-good” parental talk that also appeared in “Scandal”), but that is pretty much it. Little if nothing is said of slavery. The sugar of those sugarplums came from somewhere.

Asian characters: There were a few, here and there, but only one, South Asian, spoke. Briefly.

Symbolism without substance: Race was a twist added to Quinn’s lily-White novels, which is a wonderful idea, but it was largely wasted. But, maybe as with Black presidents and Black duchesses, even that little bit was going to be too much for many White people.

Colourism: As colour-blind as the casting seems to be, colourism still abounds. Good characters are generally lighter-skinned, evil or unimportant ones, darker-skinned.

Fashion: Anachronisms also abound. Just as Regency England did not have Black dukes, neither did it have zippers, polyester, corsets, magenta dyes, nor did it lack for bonnets. And the queen in 1813 did not wear her hair or dress like it was still 1761. It is not a profound mystery how she looked: we have paintings of her from that time.

Overall, though, it was fun to watch.

– Abagond, 2021.

See also:

572

“The Hill We Climb” (2021) is the poem Amanda Gorman wrote and read for the inauguration of US President Biden. She follows in the footsteps of inaugural poets like Robert Frost and Maya Angelou – at age 22!

She presents a Black Liberal view of this moment in US history, where a White nationalism tried to overthrow democracy.

Excerpts:

“We’ve braved the belly of the beast, we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. And the norms and notions of what ‘just is’ isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it, somehow we do it. Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”

“And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.”

“And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide, because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all.”

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: that even as we grieved, we grew; that even as we hurt, we hoped; that even as we tired, we tried; that we’ll forever be tied together victorious, not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”

“Scripture tells us to envision that ‘everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.’ [Micah 4:4] If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade but in all the bridges we’ve made.”

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.”

“In this truth, in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption we feared at its inception.”

“We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves. So while once we asked ‘how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe,’ now we assert: ‘how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?'”

“We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.”

– Abagond, 2021.

See also:

536

Remarks:

If you told me this came out the same year as “Blade Runner” (1982), that would seem right. In fact, it came out just three months later. They are strangely the same in some way. My son, who has never heard of the band, guessed the song was from 1983.

The song only went to #42 on the US pop chart, but I still I remember it perfectly well. Probably because it was heavily played in some venue other than the radio, likely MTV.

The video above is from a lip-synched performance on Dutch TV. I like it way better than the official music video.

Dale Bozzio, she of the multicoloured hair, formerly sang for Frank Zappa (as Mary in “Joe’s Garage” (1979). She was the Boston Playboy Club Bunny of the Year in 1975 and appeared nude in Hustler magazine in 1980. She is now 65. That blows my mind.

See also:

Lyrics:

Life is so strange when you don’t know
How can you tell where you’re going to
You can’t be sure of any situation
Something could change and then you won’t know

You ask yourself
Where do we go from here
It seems so all too near
Just as far beyond as I can see
I still don’t know what this all means to me

So you tell yourself
I have nowhere to go
I don’t know what to do
And I don’t even know the time of day
I guess it doesn’t matter anyway

[Chorus]
Life is so strange
Destination unknown
When you don’t know
Your destination
And Something could change
It’s unknown
And then you won’t know
Destination unknown

[Chorus]

You ask yourself
When will my time come
Has it all been said and done
I know I’ll leave when it’s my time to go
‘Til then I’ll carry on with what I know

[Chorus x2]

Life is so strange
Life is so strange…

Source: Genius Lyrics.

Repost: Unfortunately, what I wrote in 2018 bears reposting in 2021:

In the US the Republican Party is going over a cliff. They have tied their fate to Donald Trump, a brainless wonder with no moral centre. That can only end badly. But Trump is more effect than cause.

Republicans no longer follow democratic norms:

  • In the press, they rely on propaganda, not facts.
  • On the campaign trail, they rely on a cult of personality, not ideology.
  • At they ballot box, they rely on voter suppression, not majority votes.
  • In Congress they rely on obstruction, not compromise.

Even before Trump: Mitch McConnell was already obstructing Congress, Fox News was already spewing propaganda, and Republicans on the Supreme Court had already gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

This is not normal: A functioning party in a democracy will compromise to get laws and budgets passed, not bring the country to the brink of default on its public debt. A functioning party that starts losing elections will broaden its message to appeal to more people – not try to strip those people of their votes.

Science and stuff: There used to be a set of facts, stuff like science and news reporting, that both parties more or less agreed on. Their differences were philosophical. But now the Republicans have become largely cut off from reality by Fox News propaganda, Trump’s tweets, and their own echo chamber of fear mongering. So much so that the US government now seems to think that the greatest threat to the nation is a few thousand Honduran refugees – something the US used to take in stride without calling out the army.

Republican Bubble: Cable news and the Internet allow people to know more about the world than ever before. But they also allow people to withdraw into filter bubbles where they hear only what they want to hear – reality à la carte.

Southern Strategy ad absurdum: The Republicans used to stand for stuff like family values, balanced budgets, and national security. All that is gone. The religious right no longer even demands moral leadership. What remains is the naked capitalism of the Republican donor base and the naked racism of their voter base.

Demographic death: As if all that was not bad enough, the Republican Party has tied itself so closely to White racism that it faces demographic death: by the 2040s Whites will be a minority. Doubling down on racism, as Trump has done, can only work for so long.

Three main ways this could go:

  1. Republicans go extinct, like the Whig Party in the 1850s. A new right-wing party rises from the ashes.
  2. Republicans go democratic and broaden their message to appeal to more than half the people, presumably after some shocking defeat wakes them up.
  3. Republicans go fascist and destroy what is left of democracy. This is the direction they are headed in now with voter suppression, Citizens United, Orwellian propaganda, and their cult of personality.

A large number Whites seem to believe not so much in democracy as White rule.

– Abagond, 2018.

See also:

544

The second impeachment of Donald Trump (January 13th 2021), the US president, took place yesterday with 54% of the House of Representatives, including 5% of Trump’s own Republicans, voting in favour. He is being charged with inciting an insurrection, blaming him for the US Capitol riot on January 6th. He will be tried by the Senate, probably on or after January 19th. Trump is scheduled to leave office on the 20th.

Tim Alberta of Politico:

“I know for a fact several members *want* to impeach but fear casting that vote could get them or their families murdered.”

To convict, two-thirds of senators will have to vote against the president. That will require 17 Republicans to cross party lines. A possible but hardly certain outcome. If convicted:

  • he will not be able to be pardoned;
  • he can be barred from future public office by a majority vote in both the House and the Senate.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a Mussolini scholar at NYU:

“Historian of coups and right-wing authoritarians here. If there are not severe consequences for every lawmaker & Trump govt official who backed this, every member of the Capitol Police who collaborated with them, this “strategy of disruption” will escalate in 2021″

Trump’s first impeachment was in December 2019. That was for abuse of power: blackmailing the president of Ukraine to smear Joe Biden, the eventual winner of the 2020 president election, the same election the riot tried to overturn. The Senate trial in February 2020 found him innocent: only one senator crossed party lines: Mitt Romney.

Nixon comparisons: Richard Nixon was never impeached: he resigned under threat of impeachment. Democrats then, as now, controlled the House, but in the Senate they needed 11 Republicans to cross party lines. Nixon was informed that at least 29 would!!! Nixon was accused of covering up what was called a “third-rate burglary attempt” of Democratic headquarters at the Watergate hotel.

Trump is accused of inciting an insurrection, something that unfolded last week in the full glare of television cameras and the Internet. The Capitol riot was trying to stop the counting of the Electoral College vote to determine the winner of the 2020 election. It was carried out by his followers shortly after he told them the election was stolen, saying:

“We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

Plausible deniability: Note that he never directly told them to storm the Capitol. His words were ambiguous, probably deliberately so, just this side of his right to freedom of speech. But that the rioters understood him correctly can be seen in the fact that he did nothing to stop them for several hours while he “gleefully” watched them on his television set. And when he did tell them to go home, he told them he “loved” them, that they were “very special”.

– Abagond, 2021.

Update (February 13th): The impeachment trial was this week, the 9th to 13th. Trump was acquitted. Only 7 of the 50 Republican senators (14%) were willing to vote to convict, well short of the 17 needed. So Trump remains at the head of the Republican Party and can run again for president in 2024.

See also:

 

The US Capitol riot

The US Capitol riot (January 6th 2021), also known as “the events of January 6th”, or “Wednesday”, was when a Trump rally in Washington, DC turned into an attack on the US Capitol building. They stormed the Capitol just when Congress was counting the Electoral College vote to declare the winner of the 2020 election. Some rioters were chanting “HANG MIKE PENCE!” – the vice president, who was in charge of the counting. A noose was even set up. Bombs were found. Pence lived, but at least five died.

After order was restored, Congress continued the count, declaring Joe Biden the next president. He is due to be sworn in on January 20th – barring further misadventures.

Public support: An early YouGov opinion poll showed that 93% of Democrats saw it as a threat to democracy, while 45% of Republicans were for it!

At the rally, President Trump claimed the election was stolen and said to his 50,000 or so supporters:

“We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

He listed the many ways the election was stolen from him. Even though none of these claims have held up in court, they have become standard fare in the Republican media bubble for the past two months. As of December 11th, 39% of Republicans thought Trump “probably” or “definitely” won the election, while 23% were not sure.

President Trump did not say to storm the Capitol, so strictly speaking he did not incite a riot or insurrection or terrorist attack or stage a coup. But then again, Trump did nothing to stop it either. He later claimed that he “immediately” called in the National Guard. Wrong. Vice President Mike Pence did that and not till several hours later. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s pleas for the National Guard – the day before! – fell on the deaf ears of Trump’s Secretary of Defence. DC is not a state, so it depends for its defence on – the president.

Very special people: Trump later told the rioters to go home, that he “loved” them and that they were “very special”.

The police: Some police officers bravely defended the Capitol and Congress. One gave his life, Officer Brian D. Sicknick. But others helped the insurrectionists: removing barricades, giving directions, posing for pictures, etc. They did not seem to “fear for their lives” at all – while members of Congress hid or fled. Hundreds if not thousands of Trump supporters had stormed the Capitol. Only 13 were arrested during the riot.

AOC: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who did fear for her life, said:

“We came close to half of the House [of Representatives] nearly dying on Wednesday… It is an act of insurrection, it’s an act of hostility, and we must have accountability because without it, it will happen again.”

Like maybe on the 17th.

– Abagond, 2021.

Sources: Google Images, YouGov, Northeastern University (poll on who won the election), ABC 7 New York (AOC quote), Rev (transcript of Trump’s speech), etc.

See also:

604

American values

On Wednesday (January 6th 2021) a White mob stormed the US Capitol after attending a rally where President Trump told them the 2020 election had been stolen from him. A noose was set up and there were chants of “HANG MIKE PENCE!” – the vice president, the main object of Trump’s wrath. Pence lived, five others died.

Joe Biden, the president-elect:

“Let me be very clear: The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America. Do not represent who we are. What we’re seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness.”

Fact check: An early YouGov opinion poll shows that 45% of Republicans supported the storming of the Capitol.

The best commentary that I have seen so far on the US Capitol Riot was provided on TikTok on January 9th by Zoë Oliver (@zoediackiller). A transcript of her video follows (emoji descriptions in {curly braces}, links go to posts of my own):

I’ve seen a lot of people saying this and I just want to reiterate that the white mob we saw at the Capitol does NOT reflect American Values {US flag}. In the same way that:

  • the white mob at the Pequot Massacre does NOT reflect American values {football}
  • or the white mob of the Draft Riots,
  • or the white mob of the Chinese Massacre,
  • or the white mob of the Zoot Suit Riots,
  • or the white mob of the Tulsa Riots,

do not reflect American values {money}.

And if they didn’t reflect American values {barrel of oil} in

  • 1637,
  • 1863,
  • 1871, or
  • 1921, or
  • 1943

they do not reflect American values {gun} in 2021, okay?

Violent white mobs have *NOT* been reflecting American values {black hand picking cotton} for over 400 years.

And if the Founding Fathers saw, if they saw, what we saw on January 6th, they would have been disgusted. Like, if one of Thomas Jefferson’s slaves came in and said “Excuse me, Massa Jeffuhson, suh, they stormin the Capital”, Thomas Jefferson would’ve stopped r*ping one of his other slaves, he would’ve gone to the window and would’ve been disgusted!

Nor is this some sudden revelation, at least not to Black people in the US:

Professor Eddie Glaude said in 2019:

“See, the thing is is this – and I’ll take the hit on it – there are communities that have had to bear the brunt of America confronting, White America’s confronting, the danger of their innocence. And it happens every generation. So somehow we have to kind of, “Oh my God, is this who we are?” And just again, here’s another generation of babies. […]

“And so what we know is that the country has been playing politics for a long time on this hatred. We know this.

“So, it’s easy for us to place it all on Donald Trump‘s shoulders. It’s easy for us to place Pittsburgh on his shoulders. It’s easy for me to place Charlottesville on his shoulders. Easy for us to place El Paso on his shoulders.

THIS IS US!!

– Abagond, 2021.

Source: Google Images, Zoë Oliver on TikTok, YouGov, WBUR (Biden quote), Abagond (Glaude quote).

See also:

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