Headline: Tony Norman: Fables of the insurrection
Nine months ago this week, thousands of polite and respectful tourists marched in an orderly procession to the U.S. Capitol where they were determined to participate in a bipartisan celebration of the American democratic process.
Though somewhat disappointed that their candidate was denied his rightful election outcome, the tourists, most adorned in patriotic Revolutionary War finery and many carrying celebratory props like zip-ties, bear spray and “Trump/ Jesus 2020” flags, sang several rounds of “Hang On, Sloopy” to keep their spirits up.
As they crossed the barricades that were erected to keep out Mexicans, not Americans, they were greeted by Capitol police who kissed them and smothered them with so much love, it was embarrassing.
Even though the Capitol was supposed to be closed to the public because the Electoral College vote that would confirm Joe Biden’s election victory was being ratified by Congress, the friendly officers invited the crowd into the building. It was so chilly outside, what else could they do?
There was some rowdiness around the edges as one can imagine whenever thousands of peaceful white people gather. Still, there was less obnoxious behavior than would’ve occurred at the average Beach Boys concert.
What little commotion there was was likely caused by members of antifa and Black Lives Matter who infiltrated the crowd of “no drama” tourists and hijacked the chant that changed “Hang On, Sloopy” to “Hang Mike Pence.”
After looking around the premises a bit and entering several empty but unlocked congressional offices for selfies and free danish, the tourists left with a few souvenirs ranging from laptops to podiums. The feces left smeared on the walls was nothing personal — just examples of bad hygiene.
Yes, there was some unpleasantness with one very exuberant tourist who got shot and killed by Capitol police, but she was an outlier. Most tourists were peaceful and can produce plenty of selfies with cops in the rotunda to prove it. Besides, the president himself invited them into the Capitol. Who were they to turn down such a direct command?
If anything, it was the shockingly skittish members of the House and Senate who refused to meet with their constituents that afternoon who turned out to be the real insurrectionists. They would not come out of their tunnels and hiding places to meet the people who marched through that cold January day to express their disappointment with what democracy had wrought.
If you don’t remember the events of Jan. 6 happening quite the way the previous paragraphs interpreted it, you’re not alone. It did not happen this way in reality, but this is only a slight exaggeration of the way right-wing media, goaded on by the former president, wants us to remember it.
Jan. 6 wasn’t a big deal, according to many Republicans who describe it as the moral equivalent of a fender bender in democracy’s parking lot. Nothing to see here, they insist. Move along. Because of this attitude, they’re refusing to play a constructive role in determining what happened that day.
Of course minimizing Jan. 6 is ridiculous and offensive, but this is the level of unreality that many conservative Republicans insist on operating at nine months after a televised coup attempt by the deputized shock troops of President Donald Trump.
Tony Norman is a columnist and book review editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.