The Occupation Of Washington Is Pure Panic Porn — And You Are The Target

The Occupation Of Washington Is Pure Panic Porn — And You Are The Target

Just this week, we learned that thousands of Guardsmen could remain in Washington DC 'indefinitely.' Certainly through President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Guard have been in D.C. for three weeks now.

Fences, military trucks, and armored vehicles crisscross our roads and neighborhoods. Major traffic arteries through the city have been closed. Concertina razor wire surrounds our noble government buildings.

Originally called to secure the Capitol building from attackers, the Guard never left. By Inauguration Day, some newspaper reports put the number of uniformed troops deployed to the city at more than 25,000. Bridges were shut down, highway exits blocked, gates raised.

When asked, police and Guardsmen on the ground privately shared the belief they were here to stay. Soon, reports began to leak that indeed they would — through President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Just this week, we learned that thousands of Guardsmen could remain “indefinitely.”

If this seems theatrical and excessive, it’s because it is. Worse yet, it’s about politics, not security, with the same politicians who claimed Antifa violence against their voters was a “myth” now insisting they need a full division of troops to defend them from a rebel army that doesn’t exist.

For months last year the American people endured hundreds of race riots, anarchist crime sprees, and literal occupations. As this lawlessness raged, calls to deploy federal forces were treated as if they were calls for fascism. When Sen. Tom Cotton published a New York Times op-ed in June calling to send in the U.S. Army — as Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and H.W. Bush had done to quell civil disorder before — readers and Times staffers rebelled, leading to the resignations of the editorial page editor and a senior editor with him.

In its scramble to apologize, the paper attached a 325-word mea culpa to the top of the op-ed. The senator’s call to restore order with U.S. forces “falls short of the thoughtful approach that advances useful debate,” the new editors charged. The cited constitutional duty to defend states, they claimed, should have been put into quotation marks. Cotton’s assertion that Antifa was a leader in the nationwide riots, they wrote in perhaps the most laughable portion, has “not been substantiated.”

When President Donald Trump ordered Guardsmen into the capital following nights of Black Lives Matter-inspired rioting, Maryland Sen. Chris van Hollen called it “an affront to our Constitution.” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser “formally requested” they be withdrawn, and made them move to new rooms and hotels, declaring that the city would not “pay their hotel bills.”

Continuing the troop-bashing, in July Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi compared the federal officers defending the Portland Federal Courthouse against weeks of nightly Antifa rioting (with 140 officers injured throughout the siege) to Nazi “stormtroopers.” And on and on and on.

Yet on Jan. 20, the nation watched as a Democratic president was sworn into office before an empty National Mall surrounded by a division of uniformed soldiers ostensibly there to hold back the army of Klansmen and neo-Nazis waiting just over the river to invade our nation’s capital and sack its government.

Fear and distrust is already dangerously high in our country — and both are rising.

Local leaders, empowered with COVID hysteria, tell ordinary citizens to inform on their neighbors. Major newspapers join social media in lauding children who turn in their parents.

Earlier this year, as lockdowns dragged on and Black Lives Matter riots intensified and spread nationally, once-calm Americans began to stockpile ammunition and coordinate emergency escape routes with their close friends. The reactions to these inputs, panicked though some might have been, weren’t surprising given the outside forces driving them.

The Jan. 6 Capitol riots were an ugly, deadly, and tragic but ultimately isolated incident, spurred on by liberal toleration of political violence, Trump’s refusal to accept the loss, and corporate media’s open scorn of half the country and their legitimate election concerns. Democratic politicians took those riots and used them to reverse political course and order the complete militarization of downtown Washington, intentionally spreading the fear and distrust deeper into America in an effort to make their point.

A once-calm relative, one Marine officer candidate told me this week, drew up waypoints to evacuate his family from their suburban community far outside Washington. MAGA insurrection, he feared, might be camped in the woods nearby.

This behavior might also seem panicked to calmer minds, but it’s neither isolated nor unexpected given how hard our leaders have worked to spread it. And make no mistake: They know as well as any other reasonable person in Washington that 25,000 troops and razor wire aren’t needed, but protection isn’t the goal here — the occupation of Washington is a massive undertaking in panic porn. The fear we see in the capital is simulated even if it is exciting. It’s also ugly, and it obscures the truth.

Poorly trained Capitol Police officers and a Democratic mayor and House that declined security reinforcements don’t make the rioters who attacked the Capitol a marching rebel army, as we’ve seen in the weeks since when the televised theater spread to state capitals only to end with more reporters than protesters on the much-touted day of attack. Similarly, keeping the capital under military occupation while the former opposition leader is put on trial isn’t necessary for national healing, as Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer now insists.

None of this matters to the leaders in Washington: Not walling themselves from the public they serve, nor spreading even more fear and distrust among their supporters than already existed. What matters is that the Democrats and the troops be seen as the only things standing between America and a Ku Klux MAGA apocalypse.

Longtime D.C. residents and experienced frequent flyers might think all this sounds foggily familiar. Indeed, like the closing of Pennsylvania Avenue and other “temporary security measures” following Sept. 11, the permanence of the Jan. 6 security state might echo longer than the loudspeaker recording that “unticketed passengers are no longer permitted in the terminal boarding area” — a temporary announcement entering its third decade this year.

Just as in the aftermath of the terrible Sept. 11 attacks, many of the indignities we’ve been subjected to are pure security theater. Unlike the aftermath of those attacks, however, the people the theater is meant to frighten off aren’t foreign terrorists — they’re you and me.

Christopher Bedford is a senior editor at The Federalist, the vice chairman of Young Americans for Freedom, a board member at the National Journalism Center, and the author of The Art of the Donald. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Courtesy of the National Guard Bureau
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