The protest siege on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob met with widespread bipartisan condemnation, a show of unified outrage that Republicans said would have been nice last year when leftist hordes were looting and burning major U.S. cities.
As Democrats sought to blame Republicans for the violence and accused police of going soft on the protesters, Republican lawmakers were quick to point to the tepid liberal and media response to the mayhem that accompanied the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.
“The double standards are really clear,” Rep. Lee Zeldin, New York Republican, told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. “You’ve been talking about that silence coming from the left after Kenosha, New York City — I’m from New York state — Chicago, Seattle, Portland.”
And not just silence. “On the other side of the aisle, they have members of their conference talking about defunding the police and getting rid of funding for [the Department of Homeland Security] and [Immigration and Customs Enforcement],” Mr. Zeldin said.
The Capitol was evacuated Wednesday as crowds breached the building after the Save America March. The protesters broke windows and fought police, who made 68 arrests. One protester, 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt of San Diego, was fatally shot by an officer. Three others died of medical conditions.
Even so, President-elect Joseph R. Biden said Thursday that Black Lives Matter protesters would have been treated “very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol. We all know that’s true. And it is unacceptable, totally unacceptable.”
Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris said that “we witnessed two systems of justice when we saw one that let extremists storm the United States Capitol, and another that released tear gas on peaceful protesters last summer.”
Conservatives have excoriated the “peaceful protesters” narrative. They have accused Democrats and media figures of lionizing violence sparked by the May 29 death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, which totaled an estimated $1 billion to $2 billion in property damage and nearly 30 deaths.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, denouncing the storming of the Capitol, said “we’ve been dealing with violence like this for six months.”
“I mean, we’ve had six months of this kind of violence in other cities and some in Washington, particularly over the summer, where some people in the media and some people in Congress were coddling violent protesters,” Mr. Cuccinelli said on Fox News. “Well, all of a sudden, everybody’s unified. I’m sorry it took this to get there.”
He said his department “has been against this kind of violence by whomever may perpetrate it all along, and that should be all of America’s position, and I think now that maybe it is.”
Members of both parties were united in their denunciation of the siege on the Capitol and called for investigations into how the protesters were able to enter the building as a joint session of Congress gathered to certify the presidential election results.
“Mob violence is never an acceptable form of political expression,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican. “It shouldn’t matter what kind of signs the mob carries before they become violent. There’s no acceptable basis for mob violence in this country for political purposes.”
What worries some onlookers is that four years of anti-Trump resistance coupled with the George Floyd demonstrations may have normalized protest mayhem, setting the stage for an equal and opposite reaction on the right.
“History, especially the history of the 20th century, teaches that thuggery brings more thuggery, that street-fighting begets storm troopers,” New York Post columnist Bob McManus said. “When a significant segment of the political order rationalizes — to say nothing of encourages — riot, arson and looting, there is no reason to expect an opposing faction to respond any other way than in kind.”
Businesses took the brunt of the summer rioting, but federal installations also were targeted. The federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, was beset for weeks by protesters who tried to set fire to the building.
Some national Democrats spoke out against the rioting at BLM protests. Mr. Biden in May blasted “burning down communities and needless destruction.” Others were accused of turning a blind eye to the mayhem that accompanied the anti-racism message.
Ms. Harris was accused of enabling protesters in June by encouraging contributions to the Minnesota Freedom Fund to “help post bail for those protesting on the ground,” and 13 Biden campaign staffers reportedly donated to the fund.
“You need to know there’s a consequence of this, but instead you had people like Kamala Harris running around raising bail to get people back out on the streets as fast as possible,” former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, said on Fox News. “They took policy positions that there should be no cash bail to make sure that these people get out as quickly as possible. There are consequences to those types of actions, and the media did not report it.”
Not aging well was a June monologue by liberal CNN host Chris Cuomo, in which he said, “Too many see the protests as the problem. No, the problem is what forced your fellow citizens to take to the streets.
“And please, show me where it says that protests are supposed to be polite and peaceful because I can show you that outraged citizens are the ones who have made America what she is and led to any major milestones,” said Mr. Cuomo. “They’re here to yell, criticize, blame and shame.”
In the District of Columbia alone, vandals defaced more than a dozen national monuments and memorials, pulled down statues, set fire to St. John’s Episcopal Church, painted “Defund the Police” on 16th Street Northwest without a permit, and broke windows and looted dozens of retailers in CityCenterDC, Farragut Square and Georgetown.
David Greenfield, Shillman journalism fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center in Los Angeles, said you “can’t normalize violence and expect it to be a one-sided affair.”
“After months in which BLM mobs attacked a federal courthouse in Portland, throwing fireworks and shining lasers in the eyes of law enforcement personnel, toppled statues across the country, and injured hundreds of police officers, the Democrats and their media are suddenly outraged,” he said Thursday in a social media post. “How, in the midst of all this rioting, could anyone get the idea that rioting is OK?”
“This is about people on the left and their double standards doing the right thing, too, and supporting our law enforcement 365, not just when politically expedient,” he said.
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