Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press
I should write about the siege of our Capitol but my brain has oozed out of my ears. I’m rendered speechless at the gallows and chants calling to hang Vice President Pence who refused to illegally overturn the election. My loved ones hid under the covers seeing the nooses, Viking-like horned helmets, Confederate flags, Auschwitz T-shirts with skull and crossbones and 6MWE (6 Million Weren’t Enough) signs referring to Jews killed during the Holocaust. Not surprising that people wondered if America, not just Trump, lost its mind.
We watched these folks climbed walls, smashed windows and squished a law enforcement officer in a door. They broke into congressional chambers where elected officials hid under chairs. The guy with his feet up on Pelosi’s desk went viral, along with his theft of stuff on her desk. And if that isn’t enough to make you speechless, there’s rumor of an inside job. Rep. Clyburn said that he was barricaded in an unmarked office virtually impossible to find. Few people knew about those offices and to whom they were assigned. Yet, the insurrectionists came banging on his door. What! Will I ever be able to think straight again?
But I should be used to this. I chose to work in Tulsa shortly after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Fueled by extremists wanting to bring down the government, the car bombing brought down the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, damaging 324 buildings and killing 168 people, including children. The main perpetrator, Timothy McVeigh, wanted revenge for the government’s attack on the White Supremacist Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.
Our executive committee of the Oklahoma Council Against Hate had the responsibility of increasing security. The FBI who trained Black, Native American, Jewish, and interfaith groups to protect ourselves against armed groups like the Christian Identity Church and loners like the Skinheads..
We know today’s armed groups are more powerful, with ample resources for responding to Trump’s “fight like hell”. Many organizations, especially houses of worship, have intelligently amplified safety protocols. So why was DC security such a mess? Capital law enforcement was incredibly organized for Black Lives Matter protests. But even though the FBI warned about “war”, reinforcements were rejected. Photos of the mob bludgeoning an officer to death with an American flag pretty much sums up the results.
Refusal to recognize reality plagues us. Take Nashville’s Christmas bombing. Law enforcement was warned that the perp was building bombs. But there was little investigation of this loner and no action. Now rumor says he may have followed a forerunner conspiracy of QAnon, the Lizard People. Supposedly our leaders are actually lizard-like aliens, disguised as humans and trying to destroy us. These conspiracies can morph loners into terrorists who annihilates offending humans with car bombs.
“Terrorism” is a scary term, whether from White Supremacists or Black Lives Matter. But “insurrection”, “siege” and “coup’ take terrorism to a whole new level, fueled by conspiracies and egged on by opportunists posing as patriots.
When I wrote When Hate Groups March Down Main Street with my co-author, Marc Brenman, we warned about conspiracists and their violent goals. That was two years ago and I’m asked, “How did you know?”
How could I not! Proud Boys and QAnon were avid internet recruiters. Now they’re mainstream news features. Yet many still choose to ignore, minimize and deny. Fortunately, agencies and organizations now see that the Denial Era is over. They’re defunding and disconnecting. Finally! We must all bring our brains online like that if we’re to defuse this insurrection.
Readers may also want to see Our Domestic Terrorism by Deborah Levine