When Is a Riot an Insurrection?

My more liberal friends nudge me for constantly calling what happened on Capitol Hill on January 6th a riot – when every knows it was an insurrection and even an attempted coup.  No … everyone does not know that.  In my judgment, it was a riot – unless you are also prepared to call the frequent violent unrest in our segregated communities “insurrections.”   No, January 6th was a riot by all traditional measures — and that is bad enough.

A few hundred people – for a variety of reasons – transformed a much larger peaceful and constitutional gathering into a violent assault on the Capitol in January.  It was awful, to be sure.  It was criminal, in fact.  Those who provoked the violence and those who allowed themselves to get sucked into the mob psychology deserve to be brought to justice for the crimes they committed – both the serious and the less serious.  We can all agree on that.

But … it was not unlike the many “riots” that have plagued our segregated inner cities for generations.  There are, however, differences that can be drawn between what happened on Capitol Hill and the periodic riots that ravage our cities.  It is very rare for the political right to riot.  Hell, the right does not even take to the streets very often – and when it does, the demonstrations are extremely peaceful.  Unlike its namesake, the modern Tea Party activist did not riot, vandalize, burn, loot, or kill anyone. For the left, civil unrest is part of their DNA – as articulated in a chapter of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” manual.  The left does not like peaceful protests.  The break laws and … riot.  But I digress. 

Before we get into a detailed comparison of riots and insurrections, we should deal with the terms themselves.  According to the dictionary, an insurrection is “a violent uprising against an authority or government.”  Note that it applies to a government OR an authority – obviously a private sector authority.  If you apply that definition in its strictest meaning to the events of January 6th – as many do — then every one of those hundreds of urban “riots” were actually …  insurrections.  If they were NOT insurrections, then the Capitol Hill was not.  They all had the same common characteristics.

So, why the change in terminology?  Isn’t a riot bad enough?  Apparently not if you want to gain political points against the Republican Party in order to defeat GOP candidates in 2022.  You must try to convince voters that the GOP has put 250 years of American democracy at risk.  The Party of Lincoln had almost brought down the Republic, they say.  It is utter nonsense, of course. 

For whatever you may call what happened on Capitol Hill, there was not even the tiniest threat to the Republic.  It was a rampage of unfortunate violence that paused the operation of the Congress for a few hours.  The Days of Rage in the 1960s closed Congress for days at a time – and no one called those actions insurrections.

In fact, this alleged near miss to our democracy – the insurrections coup attempt, as they would have you believe — delayed the business of Congress for less time than an extra-inning baseball game.  Not a single pillar of government across the nation collapsed.  They did not even crack.  There were no mobs rising up across the nation in sympathy – as we see in the urban riots.  Not a single business was interrupted.  Disneyland remained in operation. 

Our major law enforcement agencies are putting in an unprecedented Herculean effort to track down those who engaged in the violence on January 6th.  They are operating in the pursuit of justice – but more so than with the many urban riots.  Why is that? 

For its part, the elitist media is devoting an extraordinary amount of airtime running and re-running the videos of the Capitol Hill violence on a 24/7 thread with their own spin.  They are describing the events with hyperbolic and mendacious partisan political narratives – more of one-sided prosecutorial briefs than objective journalism.  They rely on spin, selected testimony, out-of-context quotes and “evidence” that would not be allowed in a real court-of-law where rules-of-evidence, proper testimony and the rights of the accused prevail.

Insurrection was not the early descriptive of what happened on Capitol Hill.  Virtually all the media in initially referred to it as a riot.  In police communications, officers on the scene called it a riot.  It was only after the Democrat propaganda machine turned on the spin cycle that the word “insurrection” was added to the reports.  Then came the word “sedition.”  Eventually, that riot was called “an attempted coup.”  In journalism, that is referred to as “story creep.”

What we see as news today, is classic propaganda – the old strategy of telling a lie enough times and the public starts to believe it.  Thank you, Joseph Goebbels, for that one. 

What happened on Capitol Hill was no different than what happened (frequently in many cases) in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, San Francisco, Memphis, Seattle, Portland, Atlanta, Denver, etc. over many decades.  Each of those so-called riots was, in fact, “a violent uprising against an authority or government” – and if you apply the strict language of the dictionary, they were indisputably insurrections.  But no different than what happened on Capitol Hill and in some cases far worse – and that commonality is my point.

But then why the difference in what we call them – and the difference in how the Congress and law enforcement investigates them or how the media covers them?  A few hundred rioters break into the Capital.  There is damage and injury – and even death.  But is that different than what we have seen over and over and over and over again in our cities – especially in the longtime segregated urban communities?

Oh yeah, it is different.  In those urban riots a lot more people were killed, property destroyed, government buildings attacked.  There was looting, arson for days on end.  A lot more people suffered a lot more seriously.  People were burned out of their homes.

How can we call the violence on Capitol Hill an insurrection and call it a riot when a bunch of American-haters violently takeover of a portion of downtown Portland (including a police headquarters) – attack federal buildings — declaring it no longer part of the United States?  The answer?  Political hypocrisy of the first order.

If you think that Republican leaders were complicit, how complicit have been the Democrat city administrations?  What about the Mayor of Portland who told the federal troops to stop guarding federal buildings and go home?  How about the mahor of Minneapolis who had the police standdown as the rioters burned and plundered. How complicit was Vice President Harris when she not only encouraged the street action but bailed the rioters out of jail – the amazingly few who wound up there.

Law enforcement should not be arbitrary – especially if the difference in charges is based on that legal demon called politically-based prosecutorial discretion.  When the pursuit of justice is based on politics and not a consistent rule-of-law, we have how authoritarian regimes operate.  Different laws enforced differently for different people. 

In watching the events of January 6th in real time, I was outraged by the violence.  In the aftermath, I joined the many conservative voices that demanded swift and certain justice for the rioters.  But I never saw an insurrection.  No matter how the left has tried to spin, exaggerate and peddle their sky-is-falling narratives, I still see a riot.

So, there ‘tis.

Written by CFP Staff Writer

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