WASHINGTON — My city has been occupied for more than eight weeks. Major thoroughfares blocked, thousands of armed soldiers, armored vehicles, seven-foot fencing, concertina wire.
What’s it all for? An invading army across the Potomac? Rising far-right militias, ready to strike at any moment?
Nope. It’s because when angry rioters and protesters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, a Capitol Police force hobbled by its leadership’s poor training regimens, nearly non-existent fitness standards, and fecklessness in the face of crisis were incapable of protecting the building or even shutting the big doors on time.
It’s because those idiot rioters had finally — after months and years of left-wing riots here and across the country — finally given Democratic lawmakers and the corporate media the right-wing riot they always claimed was around the corner.
It’s because panic porn and agitprop are useful tools when you’re working as hard as you can to spread fear and distrust against the half of the country that disagrees with your policies.
And it’s because acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman is perfectly content to use her own men and women as political pawns and scapegoats to please her new Democratic bosses.
Just as with “two weeks to slow the spread,” on Capitol Hill we were told one month to stop the “insurrection.” Then three weeks in, the acting Capitol Police chief requested that fencing remain permanently, a sort of replacement for providing the training and enforcing the standards that are expected of police departments across America.
In the following weeks, reporters at outlets like Politico thirstily spread rumors from unnamed “Guard members” that March 4 was the day the militias would finally come back. Except this time, instead of tens of thousands of people flying and driving to the capital for a widely advertised protest with nearly zero preparation for crowd control, there was internet “chatter” about something maybe happening to a building people can’t walk within 100 yards of because it’s surrounded with razor wire and thousands of National Guardsmen.
I was told there was going to be an insurrection? Guys you're making me feel kinda silly down here. pic.twitter.com/E2peIa6gvc
— Christopher Bedford (@CBedfordDC) March 4, 2021
While headlines like “Capitol Police Say Intelligence Shows Militia Group May Be Plotting To Breach The Capitol” ran in The Washington Post, readers who got seven paragraphs down learn the FBI actually didn’t “have any indication of violence or a specific, credible plot at this time” — the kind of fact that might cause more intelligent or honest journalists to wonder what “intelligence sources” the Capitol Police were citing. None of that got in the way, of course.
And none of it got in the way of acting Chief Pittman, who requested Thursday that the occupation be extended a further two months after the men and women of the National Guard are slated to finally return to their homes, families, and lives.
None of it is enough. While the men and women of the Armed Forces — men and women who could be helping at the border, distributing vaccines, home with their children, or literally anywhere but Washington — lined the halls and stood guard outside against an imaginary army that couldn’t get within 100 yards in any direction, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi warned lawmakers to scurry among the tunnels beneath the Capitol instead of walking the halls like adults.
Because “chatter.” If terror attack “chatter” sounds familiar, it’s because you remember 9/11. Same thing, right?
“I plan on going in,” one senior Republican staffer told The Federalist Thursday morning. “Given the Army trucks, soldiers with guns, and barbed wire fences I can’t bring myself to take the left seriously when they tell me that a guy from Indiana is going to show up and be real mad about something he read on Reddit.”
But it doesn’t matter to the leadership in Congress or Pittman. What matters is the narrative. It’s all a great big theater, and all of us here in D.C. — the Capitol Police officers, the Guardsmen, the staff, the neighbors — are living in it.