Rather than grapple with the political forces behind the Capitol siege, lawmakers have instead pushed a spate of anti-protests laws across the country.
On January 6 of last year, convinced that Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race was the result of a rigged election, hundreds of his supporters breached the United States Capitol to interrupt the certification of the election results in Congress — to “stop the steal,” as they put it. They had been egged on by a constellation of right-wing corporate media outlets, Republican officials and, of course, Trump himself.
A nation and world looked on aghast as a motley band of protesters — from realtors who arrived in a private jet and moms and dads who drove in from far-off suburbs to bizarrely dressed QAnon believers, militia members and full-on white supremacists — stalked the Capitol halls, taking selfies, looting congressional offices and searching for elected officials, all in an attempt to overturn a democratic election.
The Capitol riot has frequently been compared to the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, by media commenters, government officials and even former President George W. Bush. On the one hand, the comparison is absurd. While nearly 3,000 people were killed by terrorists 21 years ago, only five died in last year’s Capitol siege, four of them the rioters themselves — the “attackers,” in the analogy — and one officer, who died of a stroke after the event.
However, the two events do have some stark parallels. Each was an avoidable security failure, received a mountain of fear-inducing media coverage, and has since been used to justify further centralization of repressive government powers.