January 6, 2021 is another day that will live in infamy in US history. It is the day that Flying Monkeys in the guise of Trump Supporters breached the US Capitol building and almost suffocated democracy as we know it in the USA. It was a motley group of ragtag White Grievance whiners. Except on this day, they whined and they also got into the US Congress which was defended by some 2200 Police who probably should not bother to defend a convention of ruminating pregnant cows in the plains of Sylhet. This insane group got in the marble corridors of the Congress, broke windows, glass plates, took selfies and most of all managed to defecate on the white marble floors. They left behind copious amounts of poop probably because they could not get into fast food restaurants to relieve themselves or there were not enough porta-potties! So much for Law & Order.
Caitlin Flanagan gives one of the most vivid descriptions of this motley group in her article in The Atlantic. She describes: “Here they were, a coalition of the willing: deadbeat dads, YouPorn enthusiasts, slow students, and MMA fans. They had heard the rebel yell, packed up their Confederate flags and Trump banners, and GPS-ed their way to Washington. After a few wrong turns, they had pulled into the swamp with bellies full of beer and Sausage McMuffins, maybe a little high on Adderall, ready to get it done. Like Rush Limbaugh before them, they were in search of their own Presidential Medals of Freedom, and like Donald Trump himself, they were ready to relieve themselves on the withering soul of the nation and the marble floors of the Capitol building. Out of darkness we were born and into darkness we were returning.”
Nothing can describe it better than what Caitlin Flanagan did. One of the more prominent Trump enthusiasts is Mike Angeli whose real name is Jacob Anthony Chansley from Arizona. He drove all the way to Washington, DC to “Stop the Steal”. Except he looks like he stole the pelt from a Coyote and copied the makeup from Braveheart.
This majestic hero is a failed 33-year-old artist who lives in his mother’s basement after being evicted from his $689/month apartment for non-payment of rent. Successes are all around, eh!
Then there is Larry Rendell Brock, a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel who was seen wearing a green tactical helmet and clad in bullet are flexible plastic handcuffs and used to restrain people by Police, Military, ISIS and many other sundry groups.
The good colonel was later arrested and is now being investigated by Counterterrorism Prosecutors. Who was he going to restrain? The list just goes on and on. The woman who was shot and killed by Capitol Police, Ashli Babbit was a 14 years’ veteran of the US Airforce. She deployed to Iraq and Qatar but never made it up the ranks. She was running a pool company in San Diego which just got a judgement of $72,000 for non-payment of a loan. The list goes on, too. Some 50,000 people showed up in DC to do Trump’s bidding.
Who and Why? That is the question that many of us are asking. Let me answer the Why in a bit but linger on the Who for a little bit longer. The people who went on a rampage in DC, I call them “Flying Monkeys”, are a subset of American population that are stricken by grievances of loss. It is mainly a white grievance. They really cannot define the grievance with clarity but they are beset by a sense of loss and most of all a sense of loss of control.
Make no mistake, this is white grievance that has always lived in the underbelly of the American society. However, Obama’s election to the Presidency gave shape to the unease and grievance. They just could not accept that black man has become the President of the United States. They bought guns in record numbers, joined the Tea Party movement to thwart the Obama agenda, screamed against Affordable Health Care (aka, Obamacare) even though they would benefit most from comprehensive health care. They joined White militia groups in droves and went against anything that they perceived to be a threat to their way of life. They are vehemently against any climate regulation even though they might choke to death in bad air. They oppose the Clean Air Act, they oppose the Clean Water regulations, they are against electric cars and so on and so on. Anything retrograde, anything anti-science they are in there with full regalia and support.
In Trump they found a soulmate. Trump lies with the ease of a Sylheti Mullah. He believes in his lies. He tells his lies with the conviction of a true believer. So, Trump lied from day one with purpose. He found things that this group of people were afraid of and amplified them into thousands of folds. He stoked the fear that immigrants are stealing American jobs. He came down his golden escalator in 2015 and said Mexican immigrants are rapists and taking over American jobs. He stoked the racial stereotypes and said black people are thugs. Thug has become a codeword for a black person.
The Trump acolytes come in many shapes and forms. There are the toothless moderate IQ rubes that form the core group. They are, um, educationally challenged. But, there are lawyers, doctors, business people and many other erudite folks in the MAGA world. I have a close friend. You can have hours of intelligent discussions on almost any subject. He is knowledgeable and up to speed on most things that make our world go round. However, when it comes to Trump and the MAGA universe, he is blind as one cell amoeba. He saw the riots and said to me, “These are ANTIFA thugs”. Of course, he is unable to believe his “lying eyes”. Why? The why is that truth and facts are not part of the equation. It is all about identity. The raw belief in the tribe, right or wrong. Facts be damned. That is why very early on one of Trump’s adviser’s trotted out the immortal phrase, “Alternative Facts”. Yes, the Trumpians live in an alternative world wrapped in alternative facts that non-tribe members cannot see or feel. Theirs is a magical world where the Democrats are all pedophiles and drinking blood of children. They see the hands of evil hands of Jews everywhere, especially that of George Soros, a Hungarian immigrant who made good in the financial markets in the eighties and nineties.
Some 74 million people voted for Trump. Not all of them are steeped in the MAGA universe. All research shows a good majority of the Republicans believe in the conspiracy theories. The Trump exhortations of race baiting resonates with this huge swath of people. It should give us all a pause. Why has America ended up here? I think the seed of the downward spiral was sown with Ronald Reagan. He is a great coiner of cozy phrases like, “The most frightening words in English language are, I am from the government and I am here to help.” Ever since then there has been an intellectual drumbeat to drown the government in a bathtub. To that end we have cut taxes, starved public health, public infrastructure and hired numb-nuts in the government jobs that require excellence. We have gone to wars in other countries based on lies and false pretexts. We have poisoned the whole city of flint with lead in the water because we really wanted to spare the taxpayers any increase in her taxes. We shuffled through airports that last saw a coat of paint back in the day of Dinosaurs. But we are still exceptional! After the attack on the Capitol, we as Americans should acknowledge that we may not be that different from, um, Belarus.
The why of the insurrection of January 6, 2021 is far more straightforward? It was expression of the White Power in the US that simply wants to stop the changes and move us backwards. Like the Luddites of yore, the rioters were trying to turn the clock back. That did not work then and will not work now either. Trump has somehow managed to connect to the deep grievance of the White people and the fearful. He has somehow managed to be the head of the government and viewed as the outsider. He has polished the narrative of a “deep state” that is constantly working against him and by default against his supporters and acolytes. That is quite a feat. You have to marvel at the guy’s ability to command and control the army of Flying Monkeys.
I will end this missive with another paragraph from Caitlin Flanagan, “They were men (and, yes, some women) lost in a modern world that no longer assumed they came first. They were looking for someone to tell them what to do. Trump told them what to do.”
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author.
Kayes Ahmed is a Bangladeshi American serial entrepreneur, thinker and writer. He lives with his two dogs in Colorado and California.