Is America still the land of the free?

Is America still the land of the free? By Peter Baldwin.

The Democrats have proposed a rewriting of the law pertaining to domestic terrorism that alters the focus almost entirely to the “white supremacist” threat. According to former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, the legislation has the bizarre effect of excluding jihadist terrorists from its ambit.

Who are these potential domestic terrorists who must be subjected to close surveillance, curtailment of their civil liberties, exclusion from any role in the military or even banned from airline travel?

It is not just the obvious candidates, such as those involved in right-wing militias. According to impeccably left-liberal American historian and journalist Anne Applebaum, the net should include anyone who continues to harbour or express doubts about the fairness of the 2020 US presidential election.

Oh dear, that includes us. If some third world country suspended vote counting just in crucial electorates, then boxes of votes arrived during the night and changed the results, and one party prevented the other from scrutinizing the vote counting, everyone would call foul. But not when Biden “won”.

In an article in The Atlantic, Applebaum ruminates about the appropriate term for those who remain sceptical about the election — according to polling, most Republican voters. Here is her preferred term and who it should be applied to: “For want of a better term, I’m calling all of them seditionists — not just the people who took part in the riot, but the far larger number of Americans who are united by their belief that Donald Trump won the election, that Joe Biden lost, and that a long list of people and institutions are lying about it.” …

Applebaum’s most recent book, Twilight of Democracy, surveys what she sees as the main threats to the liberal democratic order. And who would that be? The “deplorables”, of course, and their equivalents in other countries, the working-class people who in bygone times were a core part of the Democratic coali­tion, and those who speak for them.

Applebaum devotes an entire chapter to conservative Fox News host Laura Ingraham. Yet the book makes no reference whatsoever to the encroaching threat posed by the growing power and influence operations of the Chinese Communist Party regime — undoubtedly the greatest threat to the liberal democratic order since World War II. …

“Armed insurrection?” What a big lie:

Let’s try to get a sense of proportion here, starting with the “armed insurrection” claim that CNN and other parts of the media continue to affirm. On CNN’s Facts First web page, they point out that of the more than 700 people charged over the riot, three were charged with bringing a firearm into the Capitol precinct. Others brought items such as flagpoles, a hockey stick and pepper spray. In earlier congressional testimony, the FBI said no firearms were confiscated on the day.

Contrary to some early reports, the only use of firearms that day, and the sole death due to anyone’s deliberate action, was the shot that killed Trump supporter and military veteran Ashli Babbitt. Babbitt, all of 54.4kg and 1.57m tall, and unarmed, was shot in the throat without warning and at close range by a Capitol policeman as she crawled through the shattered door of the Senate chamber.

The treatment of this shooting by officialdom and the media was remarkable. Was serious consideration given to whether the shooting was remotely warranted, especially given that two heavily armed police were clearly visible directly behind Babbitt? Could the shooter really have felt he was in imminent danger? After an inordinate delay, and next to no media pressure, the Department of Justice issued a perfunctory statement that the shooting was justified — no grand jury investigation, nothing.

As far as most of the media were concerned, this was a non-event. Indeed, some articles implied that she deserved it. … Clearly deplorable lives do not matter much.

The sheer dishonesty of mainstream media coverage in the days and weeks that followed the riot was extraordinary. It went beyond distortion to outright lying, exemplified by reporting on the death of Officer Brian Sicknick of the Capitol Police.

On the day of his death, media reports claimed he had been bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher by Trump supporters. This was known to be false almost immediately as his family reported Sicknick spoke to them on the night of the riot, stating he felt OK.

Yet the media persisted with the battered-with-fire-extinguisher account for weeks thereafter, belatedly switching to another lie that his death was caused by “bear spray” when it was revealed that he had suffered no physical trauma whatever.

The lying stopped only with the very late release of the autopsy report, which indicated Sicknick died of a stroke two days after the riot. …

There was, undeniably, violence committed by a small minority of protesters. However, if you look through the list of charges (more than 700 in all), most are for things like “disorderly conduct”, “parading, demonstrating or picketing”, or “remaining in a restricted building”. The sentences being handed out for these offences so far have been at the top end of the possible range, in some cases exceeding even the penalties proposed by the prosecutors.

Furthermore, a large number of those charged have been held without bail in the most appalling conditions, including solitary confinement, prompting a DC judge to demand an investigation: “I find that the civil rights of the defendant have been abused. I don’t know if it’s because he’s a January 6th defendant or not, but I find this matter should be referred to the Attorney-General of the United States for a civil rights investigation into whether the DC Department of Corrections is violating the civil rights of January 6th defendants … in this and maybe other cases.” …

The “armed insurrection” claim is just too ridiculous for words — especially given that, according to a reporter for the liberal New Yorker magazine who embedded himself among the “insurgents”, they had been instructed by the rally organisers not to bring guns.

Sad. I’ll bet most Americans still haven’t heard of Ray Epps.