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Games Without Frontiers


Nancy Smash isn’t messing around:

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has said it is possible that members of Congress could face prosecution if found to have “aided and abetted” the violent attack on the Capitol earlier this month that left five people dead.

“Justice is called for as we address insurrection perpetrated against the Capitol last week,” the Democratic speaker told reporters on Friday.

“If, in fact, it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection,” the Democratic speaker said, “if they aided and abetted the crime, there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution for that.”

Pelosi’s comments came after Mikie Sherrill, a Democratic congresswoman of New Jersey, said she saw colleagues leading groups on “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol a day before the riot.

More than 30 Democrats have signed on to a letter, spearheaded by Sherrill, seeking more information about the tours that took place at the Capitol on 5 January.

A critical factor fueling the insurrection ten days ago was the sense of total impunity driving it. This impunity is closely connected to the entire aura of kidding on the square that has always characterized Trump and Trumpism. Sure Donald Trump talked like a fascist but he wasn’t really a fascist.

I mean come on, are you saying that the president of the United States is a fascist? That 74 million (this is converted to 75 million by some weird informal right wing rhetorical protocol) Americans voted to re-elect someone who you’re seriously calling a fascist? Don’t you realize that’s practically tantamount to declaring the Republican party a fascist party?

Very Serious People don’t talk like that. Don’t you want to be a Very Serious Person?

Until about 17 seconds ago, both Donald Trump’s completely open embrace of ethno-nationalist authoritarianism and the cult of personality centered on him that this embrace created were still treated as basically jokes by most if not all elite discourse in the United States. Sure, it was uncomfortable and distasteful and maybe even a little disturbing, but it wasn’t serious.

I mean it wasn’t like we weren’t going to have a peaceful transfer of power on January 20th. Because the Institutions Had Held, and anyway Donald Trump and his tens of millions of devotees weren’t really serious.

And in a sense this elite delusion wasn’t even delusional. There’s a sense in which Donald Trump isn’t serious, because a pathologically narcissistic sociopath can’t be serious about the stuff presidents are supposed to be serious about — political ideas, actually governing, moral leadership, all that stuff — because he can’t be serious about anything except his own self-aggrandizement.

And there’s also a sense in which even many of Trump’s most fanatical followers aren’t serious either — it’s all for the 4chan lulz, it’s all to troll the libs, it’s all ultimately a big reality television social media internet game, played by people who don’t ultimately take that game all that seriously. Because they’re white, mainly, which means they believe they have the privilege — and they’re often confirmed in this belief — of acting like what they do in life doesn’t really count against them.

Donald Trump’s entire life is nothing but a monument to the belief that it is possible to live a consequence-free existence, which is the real reason his followers adore him. This is why so many of his devotees are in genuine shock that they’re being held accountable for their actions. They want a pardon too! (It also helps that so many of them are genuine morons. For example Nick Fuentes is telling the insurrectionists to destroy their phones).

But it turns out that games can go too far, and then suddenly it does count.

. . . Mookie in comments points out that Bill Maher’s schtick and show are perfect examples of the elite insouciance this post is referencing:

I had told my mom the last several years that while Maher was absolutely correct on the slow moving coup thing he has really dug in his heels on platforming more and more awful people at a time when that was becoming more and more dangerous. 15 years ago you can argue it was all fun and games when he would have on cranks, charlatans, and bigots to argue with (I for one enjoyed his show for many years), but as those same people gained more and more power it become more and more dangerous. This plus his outlook becoming more and more just about the threat of “cancel culture” really has made him miss the forest for the trees and become more of an asshole crank than he used to be.

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