Violent protesters, loyal to then-President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, in Washington [John Minchillo, AP]
We should be grateful for such small mercies.
In a rare moment of lucidity, Donald Trump has abandoned plans to take part in what would have amounted to a Satanic-like version of Groundhog Day, by informing his army of culpable MAGA-hat-wearing worshippers that he will not reprise his role as insurrectionist-in-chief on the first anniversary of the storming of Capitol Hill.
Trump had intended, no doubt, to launch into one of his signature diatribes to absolve himself of responsibility for the seminal role he played in what is emerging, drip by incriminating drip, to have been a coordinated but, ultimately, failed coup d’état.
Reportedly, Trump remains holed up at his gaudy version of Shangri-La – the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida – at the urging of his circle of reliable sycophants who advised that his habit of droning on and on extemporaneously might further implicate him in the violent desecration of the United States Constitution a year ago.
Trump was also miffed that his incoherent, lie-laced “remarks” would not be televised, denying this preening narcissist the validation that apparently gives his vacant life the ephemeral attention a twice-impeached president and pampered brat requires like he requires oxygen – in almost equal measure.
Alas, our reprieve from having to endure another spasm of Trump’s lunatic tantrums will be brief since he plans to say what he proposed to say today at a rich white man’s never-ending grievance-fest – sorry, “rally” – slated for later this month in Arizona.
Still, it is a relief that, for once, Trump has opted, surprisingly, to shut up – largely out of self-preservation, of course – particularly on a day that, given its historical import, will, I suspect, be remembered and reviled by enlightened Americans in the same vein as 9/11.
It is worth recalling that the terrorists who attacked the US on that date may have been plotting to destroy the Capitol as well. They were thwarted by brave passengers and crew on board United Flight 93 who, ironically, organised another type of insurrection to save lives (possibly) at the Capitol at the expense of their own.
So, arguably, on January 6, 2021, Trump and his band of fanatical allies in Congress and at the White House helped finish the job begun by a band of fanatics on 9/11. Instead of a plane, the MAGA mob ransacked and overwhelmed the seat of US “democracy” by virtue of their rampaging numbers and with any weapon at hand.
Trump’s crass revisionism about what happened this time last year on Capitol Hill and why it happened has been taken up by the usual – and some unusual – suspects.
The usual suspects, like Trump, feed their viewers and readers a geyser of lies about what happened and why it happened for the same rank reasons as their dear, delusional leader – money, notoriety and to disfigure history.
They have no shame. Hence, they cannot be shamed.
It is the unusual suspects, including several lapsed “progressive” writers, who should be ashamed of belittling the Trump-led insurrection simply as a gathering of aggrieved Americans gone slightly awry or giving sustenance to the crackpot claim that the FBI secretly fomented the furious mayhem as part of a “false flag” operation.
Like smug conspiracy-mongers, they cling to minor discrepancies to challenge the “official story” in their fantastical effort to dismiss the seriousness of a calculated and determined attempt to prevent the certification of a new president elected by a healthy plurality of voters.
Move over, Oliver Stone. You have ludicrous company.
Meanwhile, a gaggle of centrist columnists outside the US, has penned their de rigueur commemorative missives that contemplate – with varying degrees of apocalyptic horror – the lasting significance and consequences of the traumatic bedlam of 1/6.
In Canada, a number of pundits have suddenly experienced remarkable epiphanies and now recognise the existential threat that Trump and his legion of frothing, AK-47-toting disciples pose to the institutional framework of America’s constitutional republic.
It took them a while.
I remember when these realpolitik-cliché-spouting types lectured those of us who warned, years ago, that Trump was a flagrant fascist whose defining autocratic nature would inevitably lead to a brutal assault on the already fragile and corroded infrastructure of US “democracy”.
Despite Trump’s litany of outrages that confirmed, again and again, his odious character and sinister designs, these sensible centrists insisted that this crude, but capable, authoritarian should be treated with grudging deference and respect lest he scuttle lucrative cross-border commerce or, worse, trigger a “trade war”.
Oh, how I remember when the keyboard cavalry condemned Canada’s “appeasement” of that other, and long forgotten, menace to Western “democratic values and principles,” Saddam Hussein, when then Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien refused to join the calamitous “coalition of the willing”.
Turns out, the critics of “appeasement” became the appeasers who, throughout Trump’s egregious tenure as president, repeatedly cautioned against confronting his blatant anti-democratic modus operandi in favour of the “national interest”.
These days, the sensible centrists have done a stunning volte-face and lament that conditions are ripe for the imminent “collapse of American democracy” and that, “by 2030, if not sooner, the country could be governed by a right-wing dictatorship.”
“In 2014, the suggestion that Donald Trump would become president would also have struck nearly everyone as absurd. But today we live in a world where the absurd regularly becomes real and the horrible commonplace,” a Canadian political scientist wrote in a suitably centrist Canadian newspaper.
Several astute observers, including the prescient writer and filmmaker, Michael Moore, warned, early on, that a “wretched, ignorant, dangerous, part-time clown and full-time sociopath is going to be [America’s] next president”.
And the “horrible” had become “commonplace” long before January 6, 2022. It is just that the sensible centrists in Canada and elsewhere chose wilfully and willingly to ignore it to mollify Trump.
They have, it appears, forgotten this, prompting a Royal Roads University professor to pen this astonishing paragraph: “But now we must focus on the urgent problem of what to do about the likely unraveling of democracy in the United States. We need to start by fully recognising the magnitude of the danger.”
Scores of wise, concerned people were focused on the “urgent problem” and recognised “the magnitude of the danger” prior to and immediately after Trump rode down a golden escalator to announce his candidacy for president in 2015.
They were ignored or ridiculed as naïve idealists who did not understand how the “real world” works.
To irresponsible, habitually wrong, sensible centrists in Canada and beyond: A belated welcome to the “real world”.
Finally, the millions of enlightened Americans who have resisted Trump and pine, like me, to see him and his confederates paraded into a courtroom in appropriately coloured orange jumpsuits, were likely disappointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland’s comments yesterday regarding the number of insurrectionists charged to date.
Hundreds of Trump’s maniacal foot soldiers have been nabbed and some sentenced. Their leaders, so far, have escaped accountability and punishment.
On this score, Garland offered rather vague assurances that the “Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law – whether they were present that day or otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.”
Garland then pleaded for patience with the course of the “ongoing investigation”.
“[The probe will continue] as long as it takes and whatever it takes for justice to be done consistent with the facts and the law,” the ponderous attorney general said.
Well, you best hurry, man, or there will be nothing left to save.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.