0113blog

Enemy Among Us

I know these people, known them all of my life, at the fire department, police department, Walmart, Bottle King, Home Depot, Lowes, football games, soccer games, rock concerts, they are my neighbors who offer me beer on hot days, they cut my lawn and plow my snow, clean my gutters, repair broken pipes and restore my power. These days they shout out their patriotism as they proudly hang American flags alongside large banners from their homes decrying their undying love and support for President Donald Trump, leaving the banners intact even after the presidential election and they drive their pick-ups through town with the Trump flags proudly waving.

They are old and young, men and women, all white, not aliens but people who have lost their moorings, feel their beliefs have been trampled, are powerless and confused, afraid, angry, feel like they have nowhere to turn, that much of the country hates them but they have renewed hope through a false idol who they think understands them and speaks their language and speaks to their fears and worries and who will lead them to some imagined, magical promised land or rather back to the promised land. And they can communicate their fears and plans, doomed as they may be, instantly to the multitudes who share their anguish. And they are misdirected and dangerous.

They have not acted en masse before but now feel empowered with a common fear that they are being displaced by people of color, immigrants, Muslims and yes, the tried and true scapegoats, the Jews. They despise those who pass laws that they feel give special dispensation to others, while leaving them alone in the cold, their needs not addressed.

And last week tens of thousands of them unleashed their fury, like a pressure cooker that finally blew, and descended on the Capitol. Some were clearly off the grid, like the one with the helmet and the horns and the other who wore the “Camp Aushwitz” hoodie and those with shirts with the words, “God, Guns and Trump” and others who had QAnon emblazoned on their sweatshirts, referring to the conspiratorial group.

But most looked like anyone you would see in a shopping mall. Some had long scraggly beards, others were clean shaven, some had tattoo sleeves, others had none, some had shaved heads while others looked like straight laced, bespectacled accountants.

Many made their way inside the very seat of the democratic way of government, where walls are covered with oversized paintings of past leaders and patriots, as they scaled walls and pushed past a pitifully small number of Capitol police.

It was a bizarre, raucous, joyous festival for many, who smiled and cheered, not unlike those who revel in the victory of their home town football team or those who take to the streets to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. And it was frightening to see this mob mentality that spread like a virus out of control, images that seemed more likely in a third world country.

Inside the capitol, there was a feeling of wild sexuality as the crowd boomed loudly and in unison, the call to action, “USA, USA, USA,” that sounded ominously like “Seig Heil,” as the words echoed through the halls of the building that had never seen such a display. They wore red MAGA hats, they draped flags around them and many carried American flags and confederate flags, and Trump flags and Veterans for Trump flags at this American dystopia. There was a woman with gray hair screaming obscenities in the faces of stone-emotionless police, and a young mother walked along with her two children in tow.

“What reality is this? We did this shit, we did this shit,” can be heard from the narrator, a mysterious young man who calls himself Jayden X who was live streaming the conflagration. By today, Google links to Jayden X were all listed as unavailable by Google “because the owner only shared it with a small group of people, changed who can see it or it’s been deleted.

“What is life? What is life right now?” Jayden X, is heard, his voice rising in emotion and intensity and near mania. “This is insanity. This is going to be the best, the best moment in your life. This is unreal, wow. Oh my god, oh my god, nobody in the world has ever seen this before.”

A woman wearing a mask yells out loud enough for all to hear, “We did it, we did it.” Whatever “it” is remained unclear and amorphous.

“This is real life. This is like a movie. This is real,” says Jayden X.

The crowd pushes through the halls of the 220-year-old edifice as the utterly overpowered and outnumbered police give a token and totally unsuccessful effort at halting the moving mob.

“Fucking traitors, we’re tired of this,” a grey haired pony tailed woman screams in the face of a boyish looking Capitol officer.

The group breaks out in its mantra-like chant of “stop the steal, stop the steal, stop the steal” referring to Trump’s claims of massive election fraud that have been repeated by Trump enablers in Congress even though they have all been totally debunked.

Then the chant morphed to “We want Trump, we want Trump, we want Trump” and “The people have spoken, the people have spoken.”

As the gathering wore on, the ambiance because less joyous and more angry as the protesters were blocked from entering halls until they reached one blocked entrance and started screaming “break it down, break it down, break it down” as someone called out for a crowbar.

And then, in what was the inevitable result of the violence, while the mob was trying to break through a door to the interior of the Capitol, a voice called out “there’s a gun, there’s a gun” and the barrel of the gun appears in the outer frame of the video from the other side of the protesters and suddenly, there is a bang and 35-year-old Air Force veteran and QAnon devotee, Ashli Babbitt, who had tried to climb through the door’s shattered window, had crumpled to the floor, all shown on live streaming video, while police quickly surrounded her and calls for medics were heard.

“She’s dead, she’s dead,” a disembodied voice is heard, while Babbitt lay motionless.

“I can’t believe I saw a woman die, I saw someone die,” says an incredulous Jayden X.

To see the video of the attack, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfiS8MsfSF4&bpctr=1610557558

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Phil Garber

Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer