In my legal career, I often taught younger colleagues that good lawyers are like good generals—they win by picking the terrain upon which they fight. The duke of Wellington won the battle of Waterloo, in part, because he chose the terrain and forced Napoleon to attack uphill, through the mud.
Lawyers’ terrain is the issues to be decided and the words they use to define those issues. Winning a complex legal case often depends upon who can define and shape the issues in the way that best favors them.
The same is true for politicians. To define the issues—the terrain upon which they wish to fight—politicians choose their words carefully.
The battlefield can be a negative characterization of one’s opponent. For example, if the opposition can be defined as racist, insurrectionist, terroristic, or any other inflammatory and pejorative label, the fight is won. The remaining issues are just the terms of the surrender.
Such efforts to define the terrain for the fight are going on now in the political wars over the January 6, 2021
insurrection, riot, attack on democracy, demonstration, whatever-you-choose-to-call-it. The real danger to our republic is the Joe Biden administration’s totalitarian effort to label millions of ordinary Americans as supporters of terrorists.
Smears Are a Control Tactic
In their effort to define the terrain, or the narrative, politicians and commentators have used a variety of overly simplistic descriptions to characterize all the hundreds of people who were on the Capitol grounds or in the Capitol building on January 6. Depending upon the person describing them, they are “insurrectionists,“ “rioters,“ “demonstrators,“ “goons,” and a variety of other things. When you hear the label, you know the speaker’s political views.
The primary labels Democrats have deployed are “insurrectionists,“ and “terrorists,” even though not a single person there that day has yet been charged with insurrection or terrorism (although U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has left that door open). It is a sign of the success of the Democrats’ choice of this as their terrain that such inflammatory labels are now routinely used, including by those who know better.
Even Sen. Ted Cruz recently referred to all those entering the Capitol building that day as “violent terrorists.” Although Cruz has attempted to backtrack, it shows how an opponent founders if you have defined the terrain upon which you fight.
Nobody There Was a Terrorist
Most of these labels are accurate for some of the people present that day, although “terrorists“ is not. However, when applied to all of those present, as is the usual practice, the labels are inaccurate and misleading. When it is necessary to describe the January 6, 2021 group as a whole, I prefer “RPGs,” for rioters, protesters, and gawkers.
No doubt, some in the crowd should be characterized and charged as “rioters.” But although their number is unknown, it is highly likely that some were FBI agents or informants, or, as documented by The Federalist, other agents provocateurs, perhaps including the mysterious Ray Epps. But the federal government has stonewalled requests from GOP members of Congress for more information about this.
Likewise, it cannot be seriously disputed that many in the crowd are more accurately described as “protesters.” They are not unlike many of the hundreds, if not thousands, of political dissidents who have previously invaded public buildings, including the U.S. Capitol, to protest a variety of things, from the Vietnam War to the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. As The Federalist has documented, many of the protester RPGs are less culpable than were many of the protestors who came before them.
Even though the government has refused to release most of the video footage of the events of that day, there are videos and reports of people freely entering the Capitol building through doors and barricades opened by Capitol Police, snapping selfies with police officers, walking calmly between the velvet rope lines in statuary hall while taking photos and videos, and generally gazing around like tourists on any other day.
In short, describing all the RPGs as “insurrectionists” or “terrorists” trying to destroy “our democracy” is clearly inaccurate, but is Democrats’ chosen line of attack. It defines their enemies. After all, what truly independent voter would not be against insurrectionists and terrorists who engaged in an “armed insurrection” intended to “subvert the Constitution”?
The War on Trump Is a War on His Voters
This is an intentional strategy with a malevolent purpose: Former President Trump and his supporters must be utterly destroyed. Make no mistake about it: Democrats’ goal is the total destruction of former President Trump, any GOP politician who questions either the way the 2020 elections were conducted or the tactics being employed by the House January 6 committee, and anyone who supported Trump.
No quarter is to be given to Republicans unless, like Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, they fully support the Democrat war on anyone suspected of being insufficiently opposed to the former president who has questions about the propriety of the 2020 election, or even who just opposes the lawless tactics being used against Trump’s supporters.
If the Democrats and their media allies succeed in defining their terrain and enemies as an insurrection supported by terrorists who, in Joe Biden’s words, want to “subvert the Constitution,” then the full force of the federal government can be brought to bear against them. This will include ordinary American citizens whose only “crime” has been to support Trump or raise questions about the propriety of Biden’s election, or, as we have seen, those who just oppose the Democrats’ pet projects, such as the indoctrination of school children with racists philosophy, by showing up and protesting at school board meetings.
Pursuant to standard counter-terrorism doctrine, and like the terrorists that Biden and his supporters claim they are, they and their supporters must be hunted down, harassed, imprisoned, bankrupted, excluded from any office, and ostracized from polite society until they have been “reprogrammed.”
Democrats Are Crystal Clear About Their Aims
This month, the University of Chicago sponsored a forum introduced by President Obama’s chief strategist, David Alexrod, that included disgraced former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Democrat Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Washington Post “national security reporter,” and a bobble-headed university professor who spent the better part of an hour nodding in agreement with everything anyone else said.
As Evita Duffy chronicled in The Federalist, the forum participants made it clear that everyone who set foot in the Capitol building on January 6, 2020, was a “domestic terrorist” guilty of “insurrection,” even though no one has been charged with either. Accordingly, all must be prosecuted.
The panelists are teaching that the “combustible mass” of Americans who “harbor insurrectionist sentiments” are not just the “traditional threats” from a radical fringe. Rather, they are from “mainstream America,” and they are fomenting “collective political violence.” According to McCabe “national security” is implicated because these people are engaged in a “wave of political violence that is not just confined to the Capitol” but is “going on in school boards around the country.”
This panel of “experts” compared these “mainstream Americans” to al-Qaeda, the Fort Hood shooter (three murdered, 14 injured), the Boston Marathon bombers (three killed, hundreds wounded), and Slobodan Milošević, the Serbian war criminal charged with genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Joe Kent, a highly experienced veteran of sophisticated counter-terrorist special operations and a congressional candidate from Washington, put the dynamic plainly in a recent interview with Tucker Carlson. Referring to Vice President Kamala Harris’ comparison of January 6 to Pearl Harbor and 9/11, Kent said, “I fought these wars before and I’ve seen this playbook run before. What Kamala Harris is doing, what Joe Biden is doing, is they’re taking very powerful imagery and they’re saying that the attack on Pearl Harbor, the attack on 9/11, this is the same thing that took place on January 6th because that allows people to compare Trump supporters to Nazis, to actual members of al- Qaeda, and with that imagery comes the justification to turn the tools of the state against them.”
Kent’s 20-plus years as an Army Ranger, Special Forces Green Beret, and intelligence officer gives him the experience to recognize the counter-terrorism strategy being employed by the Biden administration against “mainstream America.”