What Do You Do During a Coup in the Digital Age?

January 7, 2021 12:12pm
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Yesterday while the terror was unfolding in DC, I stumbled across a tweet that jokingly asked something like – “Are we still supposed to work during the coup?”

It reminded me of watching 9/11 unfold twenty years ago and how disconnected we were at the time in comparison. When the first plane struck the World Trade Center that day, I was putting away auto parts at the warehouse where I’d been since about 5am that morning. We’d only heard about it on the radio and I think most of the morning everyone assumed it had only been a small propeller plane because we didn’t have a TV to see the reality of the situation.

It wasn’t until I went home for lunch that I saw the vivid imagery on every single channel and realized what had happened, yet yesterday with the rise of social media, I pretty much watched it unfold in real-time.

I had been half-watching the electoral certification on C-SPAN just because I was curious about what it was all about, and honestly, the first couple of states were really boring. It’s easy to see how normally nobody cares about it because it was literally just procedural readings for every. single. state. … but then the objections started about Arizona and it became clear that it was just going to be hours of Congressmen reciting their same sad indignations, and once it became clear that the Vice President wasn’t going to attempt to override the votes themselves, ultimately the bickering didn’t matter because the Democratic House would never pass an objection to allow it to stand…

While this was going on, I wandered over to Twitter and saw comments about people leaving Trump’s rally to head towards the Capitol. Then a live chat by the New York Times mentioned that things were getting heated outside and some pictures were shared of protesters fighting with the police at the fence outside.

I didn’t think much of it until the next picture was of protesters banging at the doors, and it reminded me of that early scene from Argo when the Iranian protesters are beginning to storm the American embassy.

Congress kept with their procedures while I was yelling at the screen, “Don’t you know what’s going on outside?!” and then they started evacuating buildings around the complex.

From there it was honestly a blur of back and forth between my Twitter feed and trending posts and that same running chat from actual journalists. We watched video of people breaking through windows and storming into the Capitol, and one poor police officer getting backed up the stairs as he failed to contain the mob of people in front of him, eventually working their way all the way to the Senate floor where most but not everyone had been evacuated to a secure location.

More photos erupted, some shared by the rioters themselves, of “exploring the Capitol” while waving their flags and breaking things. One guy walked off with the House Speaker’s podium while others replaced one of the American flags with Trump’s campaign flag. Eventually pictures would show them leaving messages in Congressmen’s offices and sitting at desks with their feet up as if they’d claimed the building for their own.

It seemed to take a surprisingly long time for reinforcements to show up from the National Guard to actually remove them, and the kid glove handling compared to the brutal force seen at Black Lives Matters protests last year was nothing short of astounding. I actually saw videos of an officer holding the door for rioters and telling them to leave, along with a photo of one helping a rioter down the stairs on their way out, as opposed to the riot gear and rubber bullets and copious use of pepper spray and physical violence that was witnessed last year.

Through it all, Trump remained silent for quite a while, then posted a couple of random tweets that continued to stoke the “fraudulent election” lies before eventually posting a video that did the same and eventually got blocked by Twitter.

He literally ended the video by telling these domestic terrorists, “We love you. You’re very special.”

The family had a few failed attempts to calm the crowd as well … Ivanka posted a tweet in which she called them “American Patriots” which she later deleted. Tiffany posted a tweet wishing her brother a Happy Birthday.

Eventually Twitter grew half a spine and temporarily blocked his account for 12-hours, with Facebook and Instagram doing the same, although in light of everything that took place, it really felt like like too little, too late when his account should’ve been removed altogether years ago.

The night ended with Congress eventually reconvening to resume and complete the electoral certification, and talks were floated about a second impeachment or even the Vice President invoking the 25th Amendment to forcibly remove him from office as “unfit to serve,” however this morning that talk already seems to have disappeared from Congress’s agenda and it was reported that they wouldn’t even be meeting again until after Biden’s inauguration.

Trump released a statement this morning that there would be an orderly transition, but whether he even has control over his own mob anymore is anybody’s guess. It’s scary to think that last night he lost access to social media, but he still had access to the codes for our nuclear arsenal. I can only hope that yesterday was the worst of it, however I would be very surprised if we got to Inauguration Day without any further tragedies.

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