I was trying to remember the witticism today: a description of a group of people during the assault on the US Capitol that occurred on Wednesday. I remembered the line mentioned "Chewbacca bikini", but I forgot how it referred to the other people around him? Was it perhaps "The Night Shift at Taco Bell"? "The Worst Table at a Pokemon Tournament?" When I checked later, the text of the tweet, written by Palestinian-American writer Yousef Munayyer was:
We spend $750 billion annually on "defense" and the center of American government fell in two hours to the duck dynasty and the guy in a Chewbacca bikini
"Duck Dynasty" referring to a show with some (probably theatrically) unkempt Rednecks
, and "Chewbacca bikini" referring to a man wearing sweat pants, what looks like a fox stole
, and a horned helmet, and who refers to himself as a "QAnon Shaman", and fuck it if I am going to explain what that means.
A full two days later, what was a scary and unprecedented event is already taking on, in some corners, the air of farce. From reports I have heard, one woman was trampled to death---while holding a "Don't Tread On Me" flag. Another man apparently died when a taser he was carrying discharged into his testicles, leading to a heart attack. It is easy to dismiss what happened as the actions of adult LARPers. And indeed, looking at them, they seem to fit the worst stereotypes of racist and reactionary malcontents: the type of pasty, lumpy young men who take out their dissatisfaction with women by posting rants about women being in video games. The older men look like your dumbest uncle who thinks he is being an original comic genius when he makes a joke about black people liking fried chicken. Many of the people were would-be internet celebrities who quite openly took photos of their maskless faces and posted them to social media. Many of those people have already been arrested and charged for intrusion, trespassing and damaging government property. It is easy to look at this as the last gasp of lonely, empty people, clutching at significance.
But I read an article today that made me think:
The article points out that among the buffonish stereotypes, there were people who did not show off, who did not spread feces, and who moved with precision. The carried restraining devices and weapons. There were people there who were on a definite mission to harm others. Some of the people involved with the assault knew exactly where the offices of the most senior figures in congress were located, and moved directly there. There is some evidence that they had preparation, and planning, perhaps with inside support. (There is, infamously, a video of a Capitol Police Officer taking a selfie with a well-known neonazi figure, during the assault). There was a coordinated assault by people who were willing to harm others. In addition, the assault constitutes a serious breach of information security: among the large crowd, it would have been easy to implant listening devices, and several computers were stolen and accessed. This was a coordinated paramilitary operation to disrupt the United States government. There is nothing funny about that. The man who died of a heart attack after tasing his own balls would have probably shot me without remorse because I was different than him. There is nothing funny about it.
Besides, of course, there is. These people are globulous, empty lost souls whose end game to deal with the lack of meaning in their life is to form a death cult for a New York City reality television star who shares nothing in background and outlook with the small town America they idealize, but probably never lived in. What is your endgame, puffy little reactionaries? Donald Trump magically gets another term, restores "tradition" and the girls stop noticing the Diablo Sauce stained on your sweatpants?
Hannah Arendt said, in regards to Adolf Eichmann, "even if he killed 10 million people, he is still a clown". But we have to turn that around: clowns are capable of atrocities. Don't forget that these people are losers engaging in playacting, and also don't forget they could kill you with no qualms.