PATRICK LAWRENCE: In Praise of Protest

In all the maelstrom about the January 6 protests last year, the legitimate concerns of the protesters have been completely ignored. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:

If the Jan. 6 demonstrators defaced the Capitol in the name of one thing a year ago, Pelosi and all the other clowns rendering “commemorative” performances last week defaced it in the name of something else.

Lin-Manuel Miranda in the title role of his musical “Hamilton,” April 20, 2016. (Steve Jurvetson, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The over-the-top theater staged on Capitol Hill last Thursday, the one-year mark for the Jan. 6 protests against the official 2020 elections results, can be read in various ways. We are advised, here and there by prominent voices, that we ought to laugh (Glenn Greenwald) or dismiss the spectacle out of hand as “melodramatic anniversary-related nonsense” (Michael Tracey), “endless hyperventilating” (Matt Taibbi), and an “orgy of psychodrama” (Greenwald again).

O.K., but let us not spend too much time laughing or dismissing. As these and other serious journalists and analysts are the first to understand, last week’s variety show, kitschy as it was, bears close scrutiny and interpretation. If the Jan. 6 protesters defaced the Capitol in the name of one thing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and all the other clowns rendering “commemorative” performances defaced it in the name of something else.

Let us sort this out. Who, we need to consider, acted in the name of participatory democracy and who stands against it? What, we need to decide, is the place of protest in the land of the Boston Tea Party and the antiwar movement of just a few decades back? From whence does violence spring in our violent republic?

One is half-tempted to speculate that the elite of the Democratic Party hired a Hollywood producer to block and direct the scenes on Capitol Hill last Thursday. A cameo appearance by Dick Cheney, Democrats lining up to greet him as one of American democracy’s protectors? Kamala Harris’s comparison of Jan. 6 to Sept. 11, 2001? We can always count on our vice–president (and may she climb no higher up the greasy pole) to add a note of the preposterous.

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