Politics | Society
(Why) BLM and the Capitol Protests Are Not The Same
Democrat politicians need not apologize like their Republican counterparts
It’s become a common refrain from conservative apologists in the last couple of weeks. Typical Republican response: “Yes, fine, the Capitol protest should be condemned, but then you, Democrats, should be condemning the BLM protests of last summer.”
If you read only the headlines or you skim the opening lines of op-eds, transcripts, and reports then you could be excused for not understanding why this is such a poor comparison.
In fact there are many examples that demonstrate how the two events are comparatively very different. The CNN article claiming that experts and lawmakers say you can’t compare the two events provides some great examples, except that they are wrong. You can compare them. You must. They did. That article highlights many significant differences, from police response to communications. Perhaps the more important thing to understand is why. So comparison of those events is absolutely necessary.
If we don’t compare one protest that was based on a legitimate grievance, against another based on lies and misinformation, then we risk losing sight of the purpose for the 1st Amendment right to a freedom to peaceably assemble.
The insurrection, riot, violent protest — whatever you want to call it — that occurred at the Capitol on January 6th was caused by the feeling of disenfranchisement of thousands, perhaps millions, of people. These people were told that their election process was fraudulent. They believed, and many still do, that their government was being assaulted by forces conspiring to undermine democracy.
They truly believe that they are on the side of right. They believe they are protecting America from domestic enemies. It’s why it is so hard, near impossible, to convince them otherwise.
The problem is that they are wrong.
They were fed and consumed a continual barrage of unsubstantiated claims, followed by outright lies, and then manufactured “evidence” — which actually provided no evidence in the eyes of dozens of courts and independent audits.
This didn’t all happen during the morning rally that Trump held down the street from the Capitol. This had been building for months, perhaps years, perhaps since before the 2016. Slowly, but certainly, eroding confidence in the electoral system and building the Trump-as-victim narrative.
The result now, is that we are all witnessing the first of these uprisings by people who think they are saving America, that they are following the constitutional principles, that they are fighting for their lives. A cornered adversary can be an especially vicious one.
The hundreds of congressional leaders in the Republican party had many chances to correct this narrative, to change the peoples’ beliefs, and to tell the truth. With few exceptions they did not. It seems to be emerging that they were afraid of Trump. That they were afraid of backlash and losing support and ultimately their congressional jobs. Well, sorry, but that’s called leadership and they all failed.
But we witnessed, in the early hours of January 7th, many of these same Republican leaders stand up and disavow this violent protest…but some took the opportunity to disavow all protests over the last year, with the express intent of drawing parallels to the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, and called on their Democratic party congressional counterparts to disavow those violent protests. Calls of hypocrisy were thrown at Democrats for not previously denouncing the BLM protests.
But there is one major difference between the two events that has not been discussed on CNN or in most media.
The BLM protest was not incited by and for a political party for political gain. The Capitol event was a politically endorsed protest. Period.
That is the difference.
Whether or not each became violent, and they both did — and the violence should be condemned by all — the non-violent aspects of the protests had a foundational difference. One was non-political and the other political.
The political protest was endorsed, if not incited, by the President of the United States and active Republican members of both Houses of Congress. The protest turned violent. Republicans should apologize. Period.