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PostThe Epiphany Putsch Could Have Been Much Worse (Sam Abrams, USA, 01/07/21 9:51 am)
We got lucky yesterday. There could have easily been a Timothy McVeigh among the rioters. We witnessed mayhem but not a bloodbath.
The most telling images to me were of the numerous rioters taking selfies in the Capitol. Trump's base is a marginalized population desperate for acknowledgment and validation, much as Trump himself is desperate for the same. They want their country back, minus Mexican immigrants, minus empowered black citizens, minus independent women. In this regard, apropos Leo Goldberger's haunting memories, this base recalls the Völkisch movement that gave rise to Nazism and even echoed it in Charlottesville in 2017 with torch-carrying marchers chanting "Blood and soil" (Blut und Boden).
As someone who grew up in a Massachusetts mill town left behind by globalization, I recognized the anger in the faces of many of the rioters yesterday. I saw that anger on a regular basis in the 1970s and '80s and have continued to see it when I return for high school reunions or check Facebook posts from several high school classmates. The great enemy of these nativists was and remains the Puerto Rican community that settled in this small city, Holyoke. Initially, five families from Puerto Rico moved to Holyoke in 1958 to work on the tobacco farms flanking the Connecticut River. Many more followed. With tenement housing emptied by shuttering paper mills, Holyoke was an affordable place to live and well situated for company bus trips to farms up and down the river.
In telling the story of a year in the life of a fifth-grade teacher at a public school in Holyoke a generation ago in Among Schoolchildren (1989), Tracy Kidder powerfully rendered the challenges and tensions defining the city. Those challenges and tensions persist. And though quite blue, Holyoke as well as several nearby communities where many whites have migrated is home to many adamant Trump supporters.
The upside of yesterday's disgrace should not be overlooked. Trump has been categorically exposed for who he is. In inciting this riot and saying afterward to the participants, "We love you, you're very special," Trump made himself a pariah forever. Mike Pence finally turned on him. Mick Mulvaney, Trump's chief of staff, resigned last night, as did Matt Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser. No respected Republican leader will ever again back Trump.
JE comments: Great points, Sam. The rioters taking selfies didn't even wear masks--and I don't mean in the Covid sense, but in the anonymity sense. What they wanted was to be seen. And seen they were, although I suspect the price of validation for many of them will be jail.
All eyes are on VP Pence and whether he will set in motion the 25th Amendment. The prize for him: a fortnight as president. The cost? Eternal enmity from the Trump diehards. A tactical curiosity--which decision would put Pence in better shape for the 2024 Republican nomination? If he's clever enough, he could capitalize enormously on the "made the hard decision to put country over party" card...as well as earn the "Mr President" title for future debates.
Reflections on Flint, Sedition/Insurrection
(Patrick Mears, -Germany
01/08/21 4:51 AM)
I would just like to amplify what Sam Abrams described in his post of January 7th concerning his formative years in the Massachusetts city of Holyoke, "a Massachusetts town left behind by globalization," and then also respond to John E's question posed to me at the tail end of my last post, in which John inquired about the various criminal statutes that might be involved in connection with the recent insurrection against the United States government at the US Capitol.
First, concerning Sam's post, I experienced the "beginning of the end" in a city that had a parallel experience to that of Sam's home town. I was raised in Flint, Michigan, but on its outskirts, yet very near its city limits. Beginning in the early Nineteen-Hundreds, Flint grew by leaps and bounds into one of the most important motor vehicle-producing locales in the United States, which area attracted thousands of emigrants from other parts of the United States and Europe. A large number of these peoples came from the deep South of the United States, many of whom were African Americans escaping racial discrimination and even outright violence. In addition, many emigrants from countries such as Austria-Hungary (in my mother's case), Poland, Italy and other areas of Southern and Eastern Europe landed on our shores and made their way to the auto production centers of Detroit and Flint. The auto factories in Flint functioned as a ready means of upward mobility for these recent arrivals, and they spurred the strong and steady growth of what had been theretofore a medium-sized town during the period from 1900 to 1970. But this "land of milk and honey" began to sour beginning in the 1970s, as competition from foreign automakers began to penetrate the American economy. As most of you know, the pace of globalization in the United States and particularly in Michigan was relentless, which eventually caused General Motors Corporation to abandon Flint as a major assembly center for passenger and commercial vehicles. The primary impact of that decision was to fatally wound Flint's economy, which led to "white flight" from the city and then later from Genesee County itself. Many of my former high school friends have either relocated to other states or now live in rural Michigan communities.
One result of this accelerated pace of globalization and the concomitant abandonment of Flint has been the city's pauperization. I have no doubt that this development has substantially contributed to Flint's recent "water crisis" and also has demoralized many of my friends and acquaintances who still live in Flint or in its surrounding, semi-rural townships. They are very angry and feel abandoned by local and national politicians, as well as by large and medium-sized manufacturers, who no longer prize them as drivers of economic growth in the area and have consequently shifted production to less-expensive locales. At my fiftieth high school reunion held in Flint in September 2019, many of my former classmates expressed these sentiments to me, and many of them were Trump partisans, who trusted him to "turn things around" and "make their lives great again." I am curious to know what they now think about the rebellion at the US Capitol a few days ago and how much trust they now place in their "redeemer" to make their lives great again.
Finally, I just want to touch on John E's question about the potential application of federal criminal statutes that may have been violated in Washington, DC on January 6th. I recently had the opportunity to parse through the language of 18 U.S.C. §2383 titled "Rebellion or Insurrection." Here is the statutory language below:
"Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States."
I did not examine the case law interpreting this statute, but just focused on its "plain language." What first struck me was its broad language that clearly encompasses a wide swathe of actions. For example, take a look at the following words and phrases: (i) "incites or sets on foot," (ii) "assists," (iii) "any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States thereof," and (iv) "gives aid or comfort thereto." This is clear, statutory language that should encompass verbal and printed urgings to riot with the goal to hinder or prohibit the US Senate and House of Representatives to perform its statutory obligations to certify the electoral votes of the various states cast in 2020 and to confirm the winner of our presidential election. It strikes me that this statute could provide a basis of charging not only the rioters themselves with crimes but also could run up the entire "chain of command." Whether or not that will happen is yet to be seen, and will depend upon the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, but in examining only the plain language of this statute, it is evident that its reach is undoubtedly a long and broad one.
Finally, there are obviously other laws that could be invoked here, such as the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to remove the current President from his office and the constitutional provisions concerning impeachment, which could be used to disqualify the current President from seeking political office in the future. I am skeptical that, given the short, remaining time that is left to the so-called "MAGA Administration," these would be pursued between how and January 20th, when Joe Biden is properly inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States along with Kamala Harris as Vice-President.
JE comments: That Trump gave "aid or comfort thereto" strikes me as crystal-clear. Can anyone, even the die-hardiest of the Trump diehards, prove otherwise? Now of course the question is whether enough political will exists to enforce the law.
Pat, your native Flint has become the poster-child of American cities left behind by globalization. Perhaps the credit for its metaphor status goes to Michael Moore (Roger and Me, 1989). It's hard to believe this iconic film is already three decades old. Even Michiganders like me (now going on 35 years) avoid Flint. I've driven through it on my way farther north, but only visited once or twice. Aldona drives a Buick, historically Flint's proudest product, but hers was made in...Korea.