I've been alternately depressed and, frankly, horrified by the short-sightedness and lack of understanding displayed by many allegedly conservative commenters on the violence in Washington D.C. two days ago. So many of them just don't get it. They're living in a dream world where "civilized" conduct and verbal and political resistance are the tools to be used to win back America. They've never seen what happens when those tools fail, and push comes to shove. That's where we are now - and they can't handle it. It's outside the boundaries of their comprehension, and they don't know what to do next, so they retreat into the familiar and close their eyes to the reality of the situation.
I've enjoyed and appreciated Bill Whittle's videos over the years, but I think his response to Wednesday's events is so short-sighted as to defy reality. (He's not alone in that: many conservative commenters appear to have the same problem.) I suspect Mr. Whittle's frame of reference isn't wide enough to accommodate everything that's going on. I'll let him deliver his message in full by embedding his video, and include a transcript of what I think is the key portion of his message: then I'll respond to it.
A transcript of some of his comments:
I completely condemn what happened [on Wednesday], not because it's not time to fight, but because it is not time to fight like a mob. An American army ... is different from a mob, because an American army, when an American army goes to war, it goes to war on a foundation of justice, a foundation of righteous anger, a foundation of moral certainty that you are on the side of the angels, and it does it with discipline. American armies do not shoot hostages, and they don't hang children, in order to get information. They are not a bunch of people climbing over barricades and smashing windows. An American army has discipline and they preserve the moral integrity necessary to win because they have discipline, because they don't do the kind of things that they have been begging us to do.
There is nothing that could have happened [on Wednesday] that could have been better for the enemies of freedom. That was absolutely 100% what they were looking for, what they set us up to do. They perfectly executed that ambush ... and if we want to fight this war and win our country back, we'd better stop acting the way they want us to. We'd better have the discipline to understand that this country is worth fighting for, and if it's worth fighting for, it's worth winning, and if it's worth winning, that means you have to have the discipline to fight like an army and not just go out and become a mob, not become the kind of things that we're fighting against.
This is the entire issue ... It is not "by any means necessary" ... This is not about storming barricades and smashing windows. It is about storming ideologies and smashing ideas. It is a war against evil philosophy, and that philosophy is just waiting to be given the go-ahead, the moral go-ahead needed to take the physical action that they have been dying to take. This is not how you're going to win this. We walked into a kill box ... they were perfectly set up for this, they were waiting, they were praying for this, praying for it, and our love of our country and our anger and our rage overcame us and we gave them exactly what they wanted. And that is not going to do it, friends, that is not going to do it.
In theory, of course, Mr. Whittle is right. As a veteran, I understand the need for discipline, and I've had that lesson driven home the hard way in combat. However, he appears to think that you can take an untrained group of enthusiasts and expect them to behave with discipline, even though they've never been trained to it and have no experience of it on which to build. That's a recipe for disaster.
He's right that the enemies of freedom have been training their followers for years in this sort of thing. We've all seen how Antifa and BLM protests have been orchestrated, tightly controlled and centrally directed. If you've missed that, follow these links to learn more.
- Antifa's violent, organized tactics are getting exposed
- Feds investigating whether 'professional' Antifa-linked agitators exerting 'command and control' over unrest
- Who Is Funding and Organizing the Antifa Insurrection?
- How Can the Deep State’s Antifa Organization Be Stopped?
The centrist and conservative opposition to the progressive agenda has no such organization or centralized control. It will have to be developed, and very quickly, if organized opposition is to have any chance of success - because Antifa and its BLM allies will undoubtedly be deployed to support the progressive agenda. Their link to that is obvious. Their violence has been turned on as required to support progressive issues, and shut down almost instantaneously when public opinion has turned against them. They're clearly under the control of the leaders of progressive organizations and opinion.
By contrast, the "mob" on Wednesday was made up of ordinary Americans, fed up with the antics of Antifa and BLM and the progressive agenda. They merely emulated the tactics that have been used for so long against them. It was largely spontaneous, despite allegations from some quarters that Antifa agitators were present and whipping up emotions among the demonstrators. That may or may not be true - nobody knows for sure - but the existence of those emotions was not caused by agitators. They were already there, just waiting to overflow.
Mr. Whittle is also wrong to maintain that an American army "has discipline and they preserve the moral integrity necessary to win because they have discipline". Historically speaking, that's simply not true. From the American Revolution, where loyalists were driven from their homes and their property stolen because of their political sympathies; to the American Civil War, where armed forces on both sides pillaged the countryside through which they were moving, leaving destruction, poverty and destitution in their wake; to wars all over the globe, where Americans won because they brought overwhelming force to bear and smashed the opposition (including "collateral damage" to civilians and non-military infrastructure): American armies have won because they exercised more violence than their enemies - not necessarily with greater discipline or precision (although modern "smart" weapons have helped with that), or with greater morality.
Indeed, where American armed forces have "lost" (see Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq), it's because they have been prevented from smashing their opposition, and doing whatever it takes to win. We could win in Afghanistan tomorrow, if we took out every Taliban combatant, sympathizer and supporter in the country. There would be peace, and there would be victory. It's just that we're not prepared to pay that price to achieve it - and, by civilized standards, rightly so. Unfortunately, war is not civilized. That's why so many American service personnel have died, and continue to die, in wars that our politicians are not prepared to allow them to win.
In the internal struggle now developing, too many commenters have lost sight of the inevitable reality of war (and yes, this is a civil war in many ways) as it changes the mindset of those involved. As I've pointed out before:
To me, the worst [aspect of violent conflict] is what it does to the human psyche. You become dehumanized. Your enemies are no longer people - they're objects, things, targets. You aren't shooting at John, whose mother is ill, and who's missing his girlfriend terribly, and who wants to marry her as soon as he can get home to do so. You're shooting at that enemy over there, the one who'll surely 'do unto you' unless you 'do unto him' first. He's not a human being. He's a 'gook'. He's 'the enemy'. He's a thing rather than a person. It's easier to shoot a thing than it is a person ... You no longer think of civilians as such. They're in enemy territory, or known to be sympathetic to the enemy: therefore, they're 'things', suspects, never to be trusted, never to be treated objectively or with anything other than the forced, mandatory legal definition of 'decency' imposed by your superiors . . . and even that becomes flexible when those superiors aren't around to monitor what you're doing.
That mindset most certainly applies to our internal conflict. It's already shaping and conditioning our reaction to other Americans. He's not a fellow citizen - he's a "progressive" or a "left-winger" or an "agitator". She's not your neighbor - she's a "racist" or "reactionary" or "Trumper" or "deplorable". Both sides are equally guilty of such characterization. It was most recently displayed by ABC news editor Rick Klein, who said (before hurriedly deleting his message after push-back): "The fact is that getting rid of Trump is the easy part. Cleansing the movement he commands is going to be something else." Note that word, "cleansing". Cleanse people of politically incorrect thoughts? Check. What about ethnic cleansing along Yugoslavian lines? With a mindset like that, it's not a major leap from one concept to the other.
The rioters in Washington D.C. have watched the other side employ rioting and destruction as political weapons throughout 2020. They've watched as the forces of law and order abdicated their responsibilities and withdrew, leaving the streets and the residents of their cities to endure violence and anarchy. The demonstrators knew that the progressive establishment hates them with a passion, and regards them as an obstacle to be removed by almost any means necessary. After all, they've said so, in so many words. See here, and here, and here for examples.
When someone tells you he wants to kill, or crush, or dominate, or remove you - believe him. Why wait to find out whether he's joking? If you do, you may find it's too late to resist him. Rather start preparing now, and be prepared to take pre-emptive defensive action if necessary.
Mr. Whittle appears to want us to hold back on everything until such time as we have leaders, and structure, and above all discipline. That's not how the first Civil War was fought. The first year or two was semi-organized chaos on both sides as leaders emerged, and units were formed, and the harsh realities of war were learned more on the battlefield than on the drilling ground. Our civil struggle is going to be similar. The enemy has been organizing for some time. Their weakness is that they can't be everywhere at once; their leadership cadre is still too small for that. However, they know that, and they're ramping up their training and organization to expand their reach.
We've got a long way to go to catch up to them, and we don't - yet - have the sort of financial resources they can deploy. Nor do we have an established group of leaders, local, regional or national. President Trump is a figurehead at present. Can he build that into leadership of a genuinely national movement, outside present political structures? That remains to be seen. There are also "too many chiefs and not enough Indians". Too many voices are clamoring to be leaders, and not enough of them are willing to be followers. The loudest voices are seldom the most effective leaders, and few of them have sufficient (or sufficiently praiseworthy) track records to allow us to judge their potential. There's going to have to be a shake-out. Leaders of genuine ability, insight and action are going to have to take the place of the talking heads - of whom we have a vast oversupply. (Fortunately, the other side suffers under the same handicap.)
However, those handicaps don't mean we should not resist. The unrest in Washington D.C. on Wednesday was foreseeable, and probably inevitable. It was in response to months, sometimes years, of progressive provocation. Mr. Whittle may be right that our enemies were trying to get us to behave in precisely that way . . . but he may also be wrong. This was the first time many progressive politicians had been exposed to that level of resistance, and I hope many of them were scared and sobered by it. I hope they now realize that they won't be permitted to push Americans around willy-nilly according to their agenda. There will be more pushback, and more violent pushback if necessary.
The next step, based on revolutions and civil wars throughout the world and throughout history, is likely to be bloodshed. Politicians who refuse to acknowledge that the other side has any legitimacy will probably face physical attacks. I won't be surprised to see that, even though it's the last thing I want. I've seen too much of violent civil unrest and conflict in other parts of the world to be in any doubt about what's coming.
The "deep state" and progressive politicians will try to wield the law as a club to suppress dissent. They'll doubtless try to ban weapons, restrict gatherings, crack down on free speech, and so on. Their fellow-travelers in the mainstream media, social media giants, and universities will join in the witch-hunt, and seek to suppress any and every dissenting voice. It's time those of us in the center and on the right began actively funding our own channels of communication, to keep in touch with each other and get our message out. While doing that, we'll also give ourselves the means we need to organize and act together. We saw how Facebook, Twitter and others actively sought to censor such communications prior to and during the events in Washington. We're going to have to set up our own ways to get them out, despite efforts to block them. That's an important priority right now.
Finally, civil disobedience will become very important (as discussed here - see Section 3). The law may decree, but if enough people disobey, it becomes a paper tiger. We need to act against senseless, discriminatory laws as they're enacted, and make it clear to those who enact them that they, personally, will pay a price for doing so. What and how high that price will be, remains to be seen.
Mr. Whittle's call for discipline notwithstanding, I'm not sanguine about our future prospects, because ordinary Americans are not disciplined, and right now it's the last thing on their minds. They've had enough.
We've got a long, long way to go to restore our Republic: but "the longest journey begins with a single step", as the Chinese proverb says. I submit that Wednesday's events in Washington D.C. may have been that first step. There will doubtless be many more.