On January 6th 2021, the world’s most obvious and predictable protest apparently shocked the world because the world isn’t paying attention. A quarter million Trump supporters held a rally, and after the rally dispersed, a few hundred of them made an Area 51 style Naruto Run on the Capitol Building, prompting a deadly police response. The public reaction to this thoroughly goofy and marginally deadly stunt has been as if they were watching 9-11 again in real time, and the response bugs me a lot more than the obvious and predictable protest did. Let’s move through some talking points, and then let’s have a deeper more interesting discussion about what’s going on.
I find it hard to believe that I have to keep explaining to panicked liberals that there is no Secret Darksaber hidden in the Senate podium, which if found by a man in a buffalo hat and body paint would give him control of the entire free world. A coup is an attempt by a military to depose a government, gaining control of a country. These knuckleheads weren’t trying to gain control of the United States. Their animus was the same as every other protest in 2020: “Expression Against Perceived Injustice, Set to Expire When Bored.” Just like the rest of 2020. CHAZ was closer to a coup.
According to accounts on the ground, the overall attendance for the Trump rally during the 2021 electoral vote count totaled at least a quarter million people. Math here, based on the following images:
Surprisingly larger, for what it’s worth, than the 2016 Trump inauguration attendance itself. Eyeballing the overhead shots from Youtube of the rush on the police, there were probably around 500 people, plus or minus, that rushed the Capitol. 0.2% of the protesters rioted. This counts as a “mostly peaceful protest” according to Time Magazine’s metrics applied to BLM protests over the course of 2020.
Do I like this “mostly peaceful protest” rhetoric? No. “Mostly peaceful” means “somewhat violent,” and has meant that all year long. But if we as a country decide that “mostly peaceful protesting” is somehow okay, well fine. This sort of thing has become the new American past time since we can’t go to baseball games anymore due to Covid-19. More on that near the bottom.
They’d Have Been Shot If They Were Black
This protest was not less deadly than the Floyd protests. Five people died out of those quarter million. That’s a “Protest Fatality Rate” (we’re making things up here, that’s fun, let’s keep doing that) of 0.00002. Somewhere between 15 million and 26 million people participated in the Floyd protests. If the Floyd protests carried the same death rate as the Trump protest we should expect to see 400 deaths, not the 19 listed by all causes. The claim that “if they were black they would have been killed” is objectively, mathematically, bullshit.
But the BLM Grievances were Real and the MAGA Grievances were Fake
Some liberals are making hay saying one bunch of (behavior) is bad and another bunch of (behavior) is not bad because one is based on reality and the other one isn't. But the behavior would happen no matter what. And the main example that pops to my mind is Kenosha.
Every single thing that every liberal in the country believes about Kenosha is objectively fake, wrong, not at all real. The Kenosha shot was totally justifiable by any reasonable standard. The victim of the shot was an alleged rapist attempt to steal the car of the woman he allegedly raped and drive off with her (their) kids. The cops can’t let him drive away, they’re not allowed. They don’t want to put the kids into a dangerous high speed chase scenario, and the alleged rapist already broke free of the taser and their attempts to tackle him. The Kenosha protests were based on a fake made-up media reality, not real reality. And Kyle Rittenhouse's entire encounter, save for his possible choice of firearm, was a clinic in proper defensive gun use. I could go on for days about this, providing a liberal culture warrior all the facts, all of the actual reality, and they still wouldn't believe it because the facts are so different from their "reality."
The very animus behind the BLM protests of 2020 isn’t grounded in reality. We know that more black people as a ratio of total black population are shot by cops, and given more protracted sentences, but once you control for the fact that black folks are more likely to be involved in crime, the numbers skew much differently. On a scientific, multivariate analysis, you see that sentencing is in fact racist (about 20% racist) but that blacks aren’t shot by cops any more than whites are, by ratio of committed crimes. A smart-but-very-not-nice-and-possibly-racist person might take that window into reality and say “well black people should quit breaking the law.” A smart-but-compassionate-and-more-forward-thinking-person, which I hope I am, might say “dude this is a really important clue, we need to dig up the reason why black folks are committing crimes more, and address the underlying causes of black crime rate so we can reduce the number of black people getting shot.” But only someone who believes a false reality would say “cops are racist” based on science. Judges maybe. That seems worth fixing. And that speaks to when and why each tribe bails on science.
The Right is Anti-Science
Yep. The right is anti-science whenever science impacts their ability to provide for themselves or their families. (see: climate change) But the left is anti-science whenever science hurts someone's feelings. (see: "healthy at any size," "37 genders," "IQ isn't real") Reality is abandoned whenever it conflicts with people's personality inclinations, which are largely genetic. Neither the left nor the right may claim dominion over reality.
And that's the problem. Without a shared reality, no sensemaking can occur, and no discussion can begin. Intellectuals in the culture analysis space were calling this the "sensemaking crisis" three years ago, and now that it's obviously happening even they can’t agree about what's real. Nobody knows. And we're not even halfway down into the Deepfake Apocalypse yet, where everyone can get video evidence that proves their beliefs no matter how crazy, and that gets spread virally. This deep lack of sensemaking we experience today is actually still just tip of the iceberg shit.
Corollary: Lin Wood is either totally correct about the Epstein thing, or totally crazy, or he thinks he's sane because he got fed some deepfakes made in a 4channer's basement. And there's no possible way you or I could know, even if he released the evidence he claims he has. Sensemaking over that is impossible.
I don't think the election was stolen because I ran some math and I don't see how anyone could coordinate a steal this big, especially a Democrat apparatus that couldn’t even figure out how to count their own votes in the Iowa caucuses. But I can totally see why some other people would think that. I can even see why Trump would think that. Throwing other people under the bus because their perspective is different than yours is not at all useful. Nor does it acknowledge the overall point that behavior does not flow from ideology. Behavior flows from brain architecture and indoctrination, so when everyone on both sides is behaving the same way then we need to look at why they're all behaving the same way even though they hold differing ideologies.
Strong Opinions from the HWFO Peanut Gallery
The world’s most obvious and predictable protest was going to happen no matter who won. Because Biden won, it was over "election fraud," but if Trump won it was going to happen over "election interference" after a month-long media tirade about post office problems or whatever. And both protests would look about the same, with about the same behaviors, and about the same amount of justification in "reality." Yet the reaction to it from the left would be opposite, and the reaction to it from the right would be opposite, if the participants flipped.
Personally, I'm torn.
If I was a cop in this situation, or I was managing the cops, I would have been a lot looser on the trigger. Especially at the Capitol building. Letting a bunch of yahoos into the seat of representative governance poses a serious national security risk, one for which the Capitol police should have been prepared, given this was the world’s most obvious and predictable protest. I figure they probably should have shot five or ten of them and put this thing down.
But I also felt that way about the months long Portland federal building siege. If I were "The Government" the past year I'd have shot a couple dozen Antifa LARPers outside the Portland federal building, shot a couple dozen MAGA LARPers yesterday, and shipped a score of both off to Guantanamo Bay since literally nobody ever had the balls to shut that place down. (What The Fuck Obama? Just fly down there and turn the lights off - you're commander in chief) Might as well get some use out of our tax dollars on these CIA black sites. I'd make them share the same jail cells and stream it on Twitch for money.
But I’m not a cop, and I generally think most of government is bullshit to begin with, and I bought stock in popcorn for 2021 so deep down in some ways I want things to continue to get goofy and see what happens, now that I live some place safe.
The thing that irks me out of all of this, is how both sides behavior is almost exactly identical, despite their supposed ideological differences, and nobody seems to realize that. Each side is so deep down their respective media rabbit holes they either don't realize that both sides are acting this stupid, or they dismiss stupid behavior of their side because they feel it's ideologically justified. Watching the Red Tribe scream 'false flag' yesterday after watching the Blues scream 'false flag' in Minneapolis has been a hoot. So has this:
A culture warrior can’t see how identical the behavior is. A culture warrior is blind to their tribe’s own transgressions, and amplifies the opposing tribe’s transgressions. This is why culture warriors cannot be trusted to make any sense of what’s happening. Sense is not their objective. War is their objective. Hi Vox. Culture warriors are not thinking beings, they are tools of their indoctrinations for whom in-group signaling is more important than thought.
We should learn from this grand experiment in Mostly Peaceful Protests. The lesson we should learn is deep, and important:
The ideology is not what's driving the behavior.
Ideology never drives behavior. Ideology is just a skin. It's a justification for behavior. It's a way to reverse engineer excuses for behavior. Behavior is deeper than ideology. People acted like this in Rome. In Dark Age Europe. In the North American colonies. In Russia. In China. I feel certain that people have acted this way in every place where society got this 'big,' no matter what the supposed prevailing ideologies were. I’d be willing to bet the Aztecs had riots.
I think we were all going to act this way over the past year purely because we were locked in our houses with no jobs and nothing to do but soak up anxiety and envy signaling through social media. I think our collective reaction to Covid-19 is more likely at fault for this than anything else. All the surviving world religions list envy as a sin, and I think the reason why is that our brains are hard wired to riot when our perceptions of wealth differential rise above a certain bar, and that biological programming is a check that prevents societies from becoming too top heavy. I think social media is a perpetual envy signal, that gives us all false impressions of how great other people's lives are as compared to our own, which fuels the envy signal. I think when the envy signal crosses a certain boundary, latent biological programming is activated to run the "civil war" program and the "genocide" program.
I think historical world religions were rigged to put a lid on this, and our abandoning them and shifting over to worship of glowing screens that pipe out envy signals is a very bad thing because it's going to destabilize the whole bucket.
As I migrate the Medium HWFO material over to Substack, I’m going to support these thoughts.
The only saving grace in our current situation, I think, is that people in the United States are too lazy and too fat and too old to run a competent revolution. It's way easier just to be an asshole on Facebook or Twitter and post memes, so that's what we do instead of murdering our neighbors. Instead of real revolution, we get these ghetto revolution LARPs where people blow off steam by throwing bottle rockets at the Portland federal building or stealing the senate podium and putting it on Ebay. And then take selfies.
One thing is certain. Elections don't fix this. The best fix would be total destruction of the internet, or at a minimum destruction of the "news" apparatus. I really hope the folks in power for the next two years don't do anything fabulously stupid like criminalizing peaceful gun owners. That would be about the only way this thing pivots from ridiculous revolution LARPing to something more tangible.
And more deadly.