The Main Difference Between the Capitol Insurrection and the BLM Protests

Police had guns drawn on the floor of Congress as they fended off a violent mob of Trump supporters
Police had guns drawn on the floor of Congress as they fended off a violent mob of Trump supporters Screenshot
“Democrats didn’t care when cities were burning all summer!”

If you’ve spent any time online this past week you’ve probably seen a variation of this comment on any story related to the storming of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6. It’s usually next to a profile pic of a white person over 50 who is holding a fish for some reason.

Conservatives deal in false equivalencies because it’s easier than having an actual ideology. I’ve talked before about how their constant screeching about communism is really about constructing a weak strawman to justify their further descent into fascist mania. Likewise, the bad faith comparison between an armed insurrection against Congress as they certified the presidential election and the protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd is a security blanket of a lie meant to shield Trumpists from the horrifying truth.

So, what is the difference between the two? Simple: the insurrection at the Capitol was done for reasons of complete bullshit and the Black Lives Matter protests were not.

It seems very basic, but this is the hard candy center of the problem and the reason that conservatives are having existential crises. The thing they want to not be real is real, and the thing they want to be real is not.

The only way that you can deny the racial bias against Black Americans at the hands of the police is if you ignore a century of history and poke out your eyes so that you can’t read graphs. The fact that Black people make up a disproportionate number of fatalities doled out by cops is inarguable. If any study by a reputable scientific source has ever looked at American police statistics and not found a racial bias somewhere, I am unaware of it. The evidence is so overwhelming on this issue I’m not even linking to any of it because I honestly don’t even know where to begin.

Well, here’s one. Did you know that 100 percent of instances of a dog being set on a suspect in Ferguson, Missouri were against Black suspects? All of them. That is a tiny data point in the vast network of reasons that people took to the streets to protest. The thing that they were speaking up against is literally eating them alive and clearly requires more than a strongly worded letter to correct.

The terrorists who stormed the Capitol have no such grievance to redress. Not a single one of them has been injured in any way by the thing they decided to commit an act of sedition against.

Right before the attack happened, our own Senator Ted Cruz took the floor to contest the fact that Joe Biden clearly and legally won the presidency. He said this sentence out loud and with presumably with complete sincerity: “Thirty-nine percent of Americans believe that the election was rigged, and whether or not you disagree with that it is a reality.”

Cruz’s argument seems to be that just because a lot of people think a thing happened it must be worth something, and it’s clear that the mob agrees with him. Unfortunately, the idea that the election was rigged to elect Biden is just wrong. Not a single judge, law enforcement officer, or elected official – many of whom are as Republican as you can get – has found the slightest evidence of widescale wrongdoing that would deliver five states to secure Biden’s win. It does not exist. The reason they committed this act is a lie.

This was not the common clay of humanity rising up against oppression no matter how often they try to frame it as such. The insurrectionists at the Capitol weren’t poor whites suffering under the boots of a tyrannical state. At least one of them took a private plane there, and a great many others appear to own their own businesses. In short, they are comfortable white people LARPing legitimate civil rights movements to get the fascist overthrow of the government that they want.

No evidence will convince them otherwise because they are operating entirely on a level of faith, and denying reality is how Trumpists pray. These past few months have been entirely about the most noxious elements of the right trying to will a new reality into being, and the attack on the Capitol is so far the most powerful manifestation of their delusion. Biden won the election in a fair and legal way. Therefore any “protest” against that is illegitimate, and any violence done in the course of it is a crime.

That’s the difference between what happened last week and the BLM protests. The people who marched for racial justice are actually dealing with a real problem that needs to be solved. The problem that the insurrectionists want fixed is democracy working too well to secure their authoritarian wet dream. Why people are in the streets matters, not just that they are.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner