Prosecute the Perpetrators
I recently read that the Justice Department and FBI are investigating whether high-profile, right-wing figures — including Roger Stone and Alex Jones — may have played a role in the Capitol breach on January 6. According to people familiar with the investigation, it’s part of a broader look into the mindset of those who committed violence and their paths to radicalization.
I have been a harsh critic of both Jones and Stone over the years and I genuinely believe they are terrible human beings on many levels. The First Amendment is a wonderful concept, but the misuse of its rights in ways that hurts people cannot be condoned or supported.
Donald Trump endorsed and encouraged both men, but that is not the reason I dislike them. Roger Stone helped elect Richard Nixon decades ago, and over the years many people have suffered his violent threats and intimidation. Stone repeatedly acknowledged that he had established a back-channel with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to obtain information about Hillary Clinton as well as advance knowledge about the release of emails stolen from Democratic National Committee computers.
In 2019, Stone was indicted and convicted on seven criminal charges in the Mueller investigation: one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements and one count of witness tampering. He was convicted but later pardoned by President Trump, which didn’t deter him from his alleged involvement in the January 6th Insurrection at the Capital. He’s an evil human being.
There is an ongoing investigation into potential ties between key figures in the riot and those who promoted Trump’s lie that the election was stolen from him. Sadly, that does not mean those who may have recruited or influenced rioters will face criminal charges, particularly given US case law surrounding incitement and free speech. The truth is, we have no real federal domestic terrorist law on the books.
According to news reports, officials said they are principally seeking to understand what the rioters were intending and who may have influenced their beliefs. Investigators also want to determine whether anyone who influenced the rioters bears enough responsibility to justify criminal charges, such as conspiracy or aiding the effort.
Alex Jones used his radio and internet platforms to spread many lies, hate and conspiracy theories which angered and motivated far-right lunatics. Jones, you may remember, is the guy who said that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting were false flag operations of gun control advocates. He has stated many times that “no one died” in Sandy Hook and that Stoneman Douglas survivor David Hogg was a crisis actor.
Jones was sued by the parents of slain Sandy Hook children. He eventually admitted under oath in a deposition that the deaths were real, but claimed he has a “form of psychosis” that made him believe “everything was staged.” The lawsuits are continuing and so is his website that feeds the flames of the far-right, alt-right, white supremacists and militia groups. Just being taken off Twitter, doesn’t keep one off the internet. From the WACO incident with the Branch Davidians through Obama-Hillary hating and onto supporting Trump’s extreme rhetoric, Alex Jones has poisoned many minds in America.
One could argue that there is a difference between a deep partisan, who spreads lies about his political opponents, and an anarchist, who holds a belief that society should have no government, laws, police or other such representations of authority. Anarchism is perfectly legal, and while most US anarchists advocate change through non-violent, non-criminal means, they do have a history of doing bad things. The man who assassinated President McKinley was an anarchist. The men and woman who stormed the Capitol last month causing the death of five people are anarchists.
How we handle this attack on our democracy is important. A conviction of Donald John Trump in his second impeachment trial would have been a good start, but politics and law are not always on the same beam. Let me tell you a short story that might shed some light on how we handle dissent in America.
This is all true. The year was 1970, and I was the midnight to 4:00 AM disc jockey on a progressive rock radio station in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At 2:00 AM, I heard a noise, looked up and saw the studio was filled with about ten student protesters. They told me that earlier in the evening they had been demonstrating in front of the woman who ran a local military draft board. They were arrested and brought into magistrate court. A group of the protesters was brought before a judge, when suddenly police officers with night sticks entered the courtroom. The lights were turned off and the kids were beaten by the cops. I convinced them to come back during the day when there would be more listeners. They were given time on a talk show the next day during the “afternoon drive” time period.
As I watched the attack on the Capitol, I kept wondering where the cops were, where the guards were or even the army! And I kept saying out loud, “What is taking them so long?” The Proud Boys, Oath keepers and Three Percenters were not protesting a war, a policy or even an injustice. They were attacking our government and democracy itself. Most in that group were ANTI-GOVERNMENT and Pro-Trump loyalists, not peaceful protestors gathered to seek redress for their grievances. Their only complaint seemed to be an illogical belief that Donald Trump lost because the election was rigged.
President Joe Biden had 81,283,098 votes cast for him, which was 51.3 percent of the total vote. He became the first US presidential candidate to have won more than 80 million votes. Trump won 74,222,958 votes, which was 46.8 percent of the total vote. We keep hearing about disenfranchising the 74 million people who voted for Trump, but wait a minute, what about the 81.2 million people who voted for the other guy? Are you saying it’s okay to disregard their choice?
The Capitol Hill thugs and malcontents need to be brought to justice so that the American public can know more about their movement and its beliefs. Parents need to learn the telltale signs of their offspring developing violent, anti-American viewpoints. Of course, we all need to know if we have this “element” in our neighborhoods. I take this seriously because many of those arrested live in the state where I reside, Florida.
When we protested in the 1960s, we clearly stated that we were against an undeclared, illegal, immoral war. We thought America would be a better place if we forgot about wars and worked toward a more peaceful world instead. When today’s far-right radicals see the world through only one man’s lies and support his ludicrously lame behavior, they are not being loyal to America, they have sworn their allegiance to Trump.
It’s obvious to me that had the rioters at the Capitol not been waving Trump flags or, God forbid, were people of color, there would have been an order to fire, you know, just like Kent and Jackson State Universities back in the day. I’m sad that five people lost their lives but it could have been worse, and it will be worse should it ever happen again. All of the influencers, inciters and rioters must be brought to justice.
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Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs: If you only read one chapter of this book, try “Take a Knee for America” and think about our never-ending conflicts between minorities and the police. I’m not asking you to take a stand but having a deep and honest conversation about why some people think the way they do would be productive. This is a book for the moment which seeks to start a conversation about peace. And if you are worried about social media, you really should check out the chapter called “Social Media Menace.”