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The Truth About Trump’s Mob

Summary:
The storming of the US Capitol by predominantly white supporters of President Donald Trump was in keeping with a long tradition of mob violence directed by white elites in the service of their own interests. The difference this time is that the rioters turned on their own. NEW YORK – The storming of the US Capitol on January 6 is easily misunderstood. Shaken by the ordeal, members of Congress have issued statements explaining that America is a nation of laws, not mobs. The implication is that the disruption incited by President Donald Trump is something new. It is not. The United States has a long history of mob violence stoked by white politicians in the service of rich white Americans. What was unusual this time is

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The storming of the US Capitol by predominantly white supporters of President Donald Trump was in keeping with a long tradition of mob violence directed by white elites in the service of their own interests. The difference this time is that the rioters turned on their own.

NEW YORK – The storming of the US Capitol on January 6 is easily misunderstood. Shaken by the ordeal, members of Congress have issued statements explaining that America is a nation of laws, not mobs. The implication is that the disruption incited by President Donald Trump is something new. It is not. The United States has a long history of mob violence stoked by white politicians in the service of rich white Americans. What was unusual this time is that the white mob turned on the white politicians, rather than the people of color who are usually the victims.

Of course, the circumstance of this rioting is crucial. The aim was to intimidate Congress into stopping the peaceful transition of power. This is sedition, and in stoking it, Trump has committed a capital offense.

In the past, such mob violence has been aimed at more traditional targets of white hate: African-Americans trying to vote or desegregate buses, housing, lunch counters, and schools; Native Americans trying to protect their hunting lands and natural resources; Mexican farmworkers demanding occupational safety; the Chinese immigrant laborers who previously built the railways and worked the mines. These groups were the targets of mob violence stoked by Americans from President Andrew Jackson and the frontiersman Kit Carson in the nineteenth century to Alabama Governor George Wallace in the twentieth.

Viewed in this historical light, the mob of righteously indignant “good old boys” who stormed the Capitol had a familiar appearance. As Trump put it in his speech fomenting the riot, they were out to “save” America. “Let the weak [politicians] get out. This is a time for strength,” he declared, deploying familiar riffs. “They also want to indoctrinate your children in school by teaching them things that aren’t so. They want to indoctrinate your children. It’s all part of the comprehensive assault on our democracy.”

Throughout American history, most mob violence has come...

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