paper trail

Facebook bans the president for inciting violence; Kathleen Belew on The Turner Diaries

Kathleen Belew

Yesterday, as a pro-Trump mob breached barriers at the US Capitol, interal discussion boards at Facebook calling for banning Trump from the site were silenced by supervisors. One of the threads that was frozen included comments such as “Can we get some courage and actual action from leadership in response to this behavior?,” and, “We should do better.”

Mark Zuckerberg announced today that Facebook is indeed banning Trump from their platforms indefinitely. Trump has also been suspended from Twitter, and Shopify took down his online store.

Masha Gessen asks why the Capitol police allowed the building to be overrun. They observe a curious lack of fear on the part of members of Congress and law enforcement, concluding that “The invaders may be full of contempt for a system that they think doesn’t represent them, but on Wednesday they managed to prove that it does. The system, which shrugged off their violence like it had been a toddler’s tantrum, represents them.”

On Twitter, journalist Ben Ehrenreich examines the media’s difficulty in deciding what to call Trump’s radical followers. He writes, “The mainstream political vocabulary evidently has no place for non-leftist white people stepping out of line. The unnameable violence on which the entire system rests exists solely to protect the privileged status of the very people who smashed the windows of the Capitol yesterday, a privilege shared by most editors, producers, pundits, etc.”

Author Kathleen Belew tweets about The Turner Diaries, a novel about a coup by white-power activists, noting that “several of the methods used in the book appeared in yesterday's insurrection.” Notably, the book features an assault on the Capitol: “In the book it’s a mortar attack. But significantly, the point of the attack is NOT mass casualty, but showing people that even the Capitol can be attacked.”

The Nation’s Elie Mystal writes that Trump’s speech yesterday failed the “Brandenburg Test,” which determines the point at which speech loses its First Amendment protections for inciting violence. Mystal asks: “If a Black activist can be arrested and hounded all the way to the Supreme Court because a protester at a rally threw a brick, what should happen to a white president who encourages his people to storm the Capitol?”

The New York Times reports on the attacks on journalists by the DC rioters. Members of the pro-Trump clan threatened and surrounded reporters and destroyed AP news equipment. The words “Murder the media” were found scratched on a door inside the Captiol.