A MOST SELF-INDULGENT COUP

Illustration: Craig Stephens, SCMP.

When Trump held his infamous rally on the 6th of January and urged his supporters to “march to” (read “storm”) the US Capitol Building, and further called on them to “cheer on” (read “threaten”) US lawmakers to reverse the “stolen” election, I had a strange moment that I can only describe as “fuzzy” deja vous. What I mean is that I knew I had heard or read about something like this before but I couldn’t exactly recall what it was.

Then yesterday it came back to me. In May 1966, Chairman Mao called on the youth of China to ‘Seize Power’ and ‘Bombard the Headquarters’. He also proclaimed that ‘to Rebel is Justified.’   

Communist China did not have presidential elections, but Mao had earlier been sidelined out of power by the senior Party leadership for his disastrous Great Leap Forward campaign, and was replaced by Liu Shaochi as Chairman of the PRC. Like Trump, Mao hated losing power, and like Trump, he called on the disaffected section of Chinese society, in Mao’s case the marginalized youth, many of whom had “sent down”(zhiqing) the countryside to perform hard labor.

Further comparisons with the Cultural Revolution should not be drawn, but before discontinuing this line of inquiry, I have to say that Americans should consider themselves, at least where coups are concerned, the luckiest people in the world.

We are all lucky that the one serious coup this country has faced was launched by a clownish, incompetent, intellectually-challenged, self-absorbed, craven leader (with, admittedly, a measure of low cunning) and not by a deadly serious, focused, messianic and murderous leader like Mao Zedong with a fanatical following of Red Guards ready to give up their lives for the “Great Helmsman.”

However enraged they were with Biden’s victory, Trump’s followers could not, of course, be described as deprived or marginalized. A Huff Post report claimed: “Donald Trump supporters who ransacked the U.S. Capitol last week weren’t short on cash or propelled by severe economic anxiety. The insurrectionists came to Washington by plane. They stayed in Airbnbs and at the Embassy Suites. Some were cops. There were doctors, lawyers, a Chicago real estate broker, teachers ― even a school therapist. A CEO.” Many were carrying IPhones and taking selfies. They were also wearing a variety of costumes including superheroes, Abraham Lincoln, the Statue of Liberty and a Viking with a horned helmet.

I am in no way trying to downplay the seriousness of the Jan 6th coup attempt. Five people died in the attack and for all its bizarre and clownish aspects there were armed contingents carrying automatic weapons and pipe bombs –– within the larger crowd. Nonetheless the defining emotion of the insurrection does appear to be one more of petulance and self-indulgence than fanaticism and focus.

The failed coup has at least given the nation an essential wake-up call and ensured the security of the coming administration. Perhaps, more vitally it has provided the justice system an opportunity and legal justification to conduct a thorough, nationwide crackdown on all domestic terrorist groups (white supremacists, right-wing extremists, militias et al), and thereby demonstrate to the world the resilience of American democracy.

Like I said, Americans are (deserved or not) the luckiest people in the world.

 

4 Replies to “A MOST SELF-INDULGENT COUP”

  1. Jamyang la, what about the riots, looting of businesses and destructions of properties and building during BLM campaigns in all major cities, specially Seattle. Many citizens haven’t recovered form these events. Clearly the left extremist were behind all the chaos and destruction behind BLM- this is what I thought it was.
    What do you think, just reaching out for an opinion that’s it.

    1. You need to do just a little more inquiry as to who these rioters were during the BLM peaceful protests. In Portland there has always been a very strong Anarchist movement not really well organized, just disenfranchised people and ready to destroy anything at the drop of a hat. The BLM protesters were peaceful. If there were folks at the BLM protests getting violent there were very few and maybe if they were violent they have good reason? 400 years of oppression. But to say an election was stolen when it clearly was not and then to break down the doors of the Capitol? That is a whole different ball game.

  2. Namgyal la,
    You cannot compare riots to insurrection. BLM people are seeking equal justice albeit in a wrong manner but the people that raided the capital are seeking to over throw the government claiming election in as stolen. However they forget the third pillar in democracy gave all the opportunities to Trump. What else can a democracy do?

    What I got from Jamyang la’s piece is, Americans may not be luck next time!

  3. Jamyang Norbu-la,
    I am Mr. David Pahle, 61, writing from Chattanooga, TN. I lived in China for nearly 13 years, including 2 years in Tibet where I had the distinction of being the only American ever to have dined with Xi Jinping in Tibet. You may be interested in my remarks and photos, many of which I took at significant personal risk.
    https://twoyearsintibet.com
    Thank you sir,
    Mr. David Pahle

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