Last week, Democrats accused former President Donald Trump of inciting an “insurrection” against the United States when he urged his supporters to protest the certification of the 2020 election results. They suppressed the fact that he told them to protest “peacefully and patriotically.”
But there was, in fact, an insurrection in America. It happened throughout the last year, as left-wing rioters took to the streets and attempted, in the late spring, to topple the Trump administration.
The scene that unfolded in front of the White House in late May looked like the “color revolutions” — the protests that have toppled governments in the former Soviet empire in recent decades.
Masses of people gathered in Lafayette Square, joined by leaders of the opposition party — including then-Sen. Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
By night, rioters hurled bricks and bottles at the Secret Service; Trump had to be evacuated to a bunker for his own safety.
Though the rioters assaulted journalists, the media rallied to their side. When the U.S. Park Police moved the rioters out of Lafayette Square, the media repeated the left’s false claim that Trump had ordered the military to use “tear gas” to clear out “peaceful protesters” so that he could stage a “photo-op” in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, burned by the rioters the night before.
That “photo-op” had been a crucial signal that the democratically-elected government was still in power.
But the military began to turn against the president — the key step in any attempt to overthrow a government. Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, citing the false narrative about Lafayette Square, called Trump a danger to the U.S. Constitution, and compared him to a Nazi leader. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had joined Trump on his walk to the church, soon apologized for having defended the democratically-elected government.
Other, retired military leaders had already weighed in, extraordinarily, against Trump. Retired Admiral William McRaven published an op-ed in the New York Times in October 2019 calling for Trump to be removed from office “the sooner, the better.” Retired General William McChrystal had already signed up to advise a Democratic Party propaganda effort that used artificial intelligence originally developed for the Pentagon to promote anti-Trump narratives during the election.
The moment of greatest peril passed, thanks to Trump’s decision to call in the National Guard — over the opposition of both Democrats and the media. (The Times newsroom ousted the editor of the editorial page over the mere printing of an op-ed suggesting the legal, use of the military under the Insurrection Act to restore order.)
But the riots raged on, not simply because of outrage at the death of George Floyd, but also because many Democrats believed it was the way to win.
Recall that in January 2020, none of the Democratic presidential primary candidates looked like serious contenders. The grass roots had rallied behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who racked up unprecedented early victories.
When the party establishment rallied behind Joe Biden to ensure his nomination, the party base was marooned. Many believed Biden, in his basement, was still a poor choice. The Black Lives Matter protests were their way of asserting their political will.
As TIME magazine has since documented, Democrats used the unrest to register voters, as the party’s lawyers argued for changes to voting rules in key battleground states, and activists pressured social media companies to suppress information that might help Trump. And left-wing extremists from Antifa took advantage of the chaos to attack national monuments, to mount an American version of the “Cultural Revolution.”
Trump rightly accused Antifa of causing an “insurrection.”
Trump was more right than anyone knew at the time. Another “insurrection” was already being planned by the same Democratic operatives hailed by TIME as heroes for having “saved” the election (for them).
Breitbart News broke the story in mid-October about how left-wing radicals had posted an online guide to causing nationwide unrest, in the event Trump claimed a narrow victory in the election. After the actual vote results, Democrats told the rioters to “stand down.”
January 6 was a tragedy — a strategic mistake by Trump, who led his supporters into a political struggle they could not possibly win.
It was the result, perhaps, of a character flaw: the will to win at any cost, which made him a spectacularly successful president, led to disaster when he no longer had a clear mandate.
Yet the Capitol riot was not, as Democrats claimed, an “insurrection.” It was a reaction — terrible, and unjustified — to an insurrection that had already taken place.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.