Alan Zendell, January 9, 2021
The Alt-right movement and its affiliated groups of neo-Nazis and assorted hate-mongers have thrown down the gauntlet, threatening massive attacks on the U. S. Capitol and statehouses across the country on January 17th. They’re a serious threat to life and property that cannot be ignored. Many Americans are justifiably concerned about what might happen next week. These insurrectionists and traitors are well-armed and capable of causing considerable mayhem. No one wants to see our law enforcement people and symbols of government under attack, especially if someone you know and care about will be on the front lines defending against them.
We ignore protest groups like the one that invaded the Capitol at our peril; we’ve been ignoring this one far too long. Trump started this long before he decided to run for president in 2015, but it’s no longer about him. This nest of vipers that has been growing and feeding itself on the internet is awake, like a deadly virus that has lain dormant for decades. Throughout history, burying our heads in the sand and turning blind eyes toward insidious threats always ended badly.
We weren’t prepared in Washington, and much of that lack of preparedness was set up in advance by Trump, who deliberately hamstrung the ability of local leaders to activate the National Guard. That will not happen again.
Insurrection is awful to contemplate, but we need to maintain our perspective. First, there is nothing to debate. This is a fight we cannot duck. The only issue is whether we’re prepared. One in eight Americans polled by Reuters said they approved of the rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6th. One out of eight!
A small percentage of those are professional anarchists and agitators, but most are our friends, neighbors, and family members, who have sadly been drawn into Trump’s cult of lies and bigotry. Some, like the small number of Capitol Police officers who were seen abetting the rioters, have even infiltrated law enforcement. This is a cancer eating away at the heart of our democracy; if it’s not excised it could kill the patient.
That said, don’t get overly upset. We’re ready. We have thousands of highly skilled people scouring the Internet, analyzing the chatter. It’s tough to root out terrorists who hide in caves in Afghanistan, but they can’t hide online. Most of the people in the Trump cult are, frankly, stupid. As Stephen Colbert asked in his monologue after the Capitol was cleared, how smart is it to take off your mask while you’re violating federal laws in front of surveillance cameras, and then brag about it to local media? These people are drones in a movement that depends on charismatic leaders telling them what to do. Their cynical leaders use them as cannon fodder, but that only works when we’re unprepared.
That’s what the assault on the Capitol has in common with nine-eleven. The attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon succeeded because of a massive failure of Intelligence. But we learned, and since then every threat has been thwarted. In more than nineteen years nothing of the sort has happened again.
In today’s world, no movement of any size can live under the radar, and the current crop of crazies doesn’t even try. If they choose to attack, it may be ugly, and innocent people may be killed, but this is war, and war produces casualties. In this war, if it occurs, the attackers will face heavily armed, well-organized defenders. If blood is shed almost all of it will be the attackers’.
Anyone who takes up arms on January 17th will either wind up dead or spend the rest of his or her life in federal prison. The leaders will be arrested and tried for treason or insurrection, whatever the correct legal term is. The heads of the movement will be severed, and leaderless, the vipers who survive will crawl back into their holes.
The Trump cult loves to threaten civil war and pledge to give their lives to the cause, but that’s just Internet chatter. They’re lynch mobs whipped into a frenzy by crazed leaders. But the leaders are not mindless drones. They understand that having exposed themselves on social media platforms, any armed attack will result in the end of their movement and the power they wield. If they’re truly martyrs, they will go the way of all self-immolators. If they’re as smart as they think they are, they’ll back off, knowing they face certain defeat.
If they don’t, they’re dead. Every drop of blood shed in defeating them will be a tragedy, but if the leaders follow through on their threats, we really have no choice.
Despite his many blunders in office, President George W. Bush got one thing right. He told the Islamic terrorists who plotted nine eleven that if they wanted to sacrifice their lives in the cause of Jihad, he’d be happy to help them on their way. That’s the message we should send to those who plan to attack our republic.