Sean Davis examines the events in DC on January 6th and hopes that history will not only capture all of the facts, but the nuance in every ironic detail that unfolded.
“Violent Trump rioter shocks own testicles to death,” reads the headline. I never heard of the website reporting this before, and I couldn’t back up the fact beyond Twitter, but 2020, and the beginning of 2021 for that matter, has been a dumpster fire, so, I’m going to let myself believe it, even if it can’t be confirmed.
From what I found, his name was Kevin Greeson and he lived in Alabama. His social media is full of posts on how much he hated Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, and Black Lives Matter. His Parler account is full of hate like calling Stacy Abrams a “Big fat bitch” and “Gore is a pussy!!” and calling for people to “… take this fucking Country BACK!! Load your guns and take to the streets!” But maybe there’s a lot lost in context here. Maybe he was a good person. Maybe he secretly gave to charity and fed homeless people. I really don’t want to be that person who laughs at other people’s misfortunes, and especially not their deaths.
On Wednesday, January 6th, a literal confederacy of dunces attempted a coup on the United States Government, and it was laced with so much irony that when this day goes down in U.S. History, future generations may not believe the facts. A Trump-supporting woman (which in itself is ironic), Rosanne Boyland, who earlier in the day was photographed waving a Gadsden flag (the yellow flag with the coiled snake that reads “Don’t Tread on Me”) was trampled to death by her fellow Trump supporters. Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, mad at politicians for crimes she believed they committed, Tweeted, “Nothing will stop us…” a day before she was definitively stopped by being shot to death for breaking through a window to a restricted area in the U.S. Capitol.
When this lame and failed coup does go down in history, I very much hope the historians capture the immense amount of irony. Yes, some of it is very obvious, like the “Don’t Tread on Me” lady being fatally treaded upon, but much of it is very subtle and would go unnoticed without pausing and reflecting.
Rosanne Boyland may have known the history of the Gadsden flag that so many Trump supporters fly, but I very much doubt it. You see, when we were still an English Colony, it was a policy of Parliament to send convicted felons to America, specifically, and even more ironically (in this case), to Georgia. Benjamin Franklin, in a satirical article, wrote that the Colonies should thank Britain by sending them back rattlesnakes.
On May 9th, 1754, Franklin published a woodcut of a snake in eight sections, each section representing one of the Colonies with New England as the head and South Carolina as the tail, in the order of how they appear on a map from North to South. The words underneath this, “JOIN, or DIE.” were the very first political cartoon in American history. And it was an attempt to fight the growing sense of independence that radiated from each colony.
(by Benjamin Franklin, public domain)
Franklin published this cartoon during the French and Indian War to stress that the colonies were stronger united than they were alone. He leaned further into this by writing an article on how the rattlesnake is a better symbol for our fledgling country than the bald eagle. He wrote this under the pseudonym American Guesser:
“I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids—She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.—She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage.—As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal:—Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her.—Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?” —Benjamin Franklin
Talk about irony, a country founded by Puritans with a snake as their symbol. The same animal who represents Satan in the bible.
The snake would go on to be on many seals and flags throughout our country’s history, including the War Office, the War Board, and the War Department. As the Revolutionary War neared, the very first Marines who ever enlisted carried yellow drums with coiled snakes on them. One of those Marines was Colonel Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina. Gadsden made a flag with a coiled snake on a yellow field above the words, “Don’t Tread on Me” and presented it to his state’s congress. They loved it so much that it was used by the Commander of the Continental Navy.
The irony just won’t stop.
Many of the insurgents of this Theater of Absurdity committed the criminal act of climbing a twenty-foot barrier wall before breaking into our Nation’s Capitol in a misguided attempt to defend a losing president who ran on building a wall to keep criminals out of the country.
Also, these highly agitated, yet undereducated, would-be patriots who broke the law and created disorder did so for a president who tried to win reelection on the platform of being the “Law and Order” president. Many times, Trump tried to paint President Elect Biden as the King of Antifa, the leader of a group of people who stoked social unrest and would throw our country into chaos if given a chance.
These MAGA hat(e) devotees posted all over social media mortal threats of what they would do to the troublemakers who dared spray paint on a Federal Building in Portland, Oregon, if they only had half a chance. These same people smeared their own shit on the walls of the building that most symbolizes the heart of our Democracy, a building that represents peace and democracy in the entire world, and then they tracked their shit down the hall and into different offices as they took selfies and rifled through the drawers of the lawmakers they hated most.
But this gets more ironic still.
These veterans of the Siege of Dorktown will be tried under the Statues & Monument Act, an executive order signed by Trump to keep those damn Antifa kids from toppling statues of famous people who accidentally or incidentally owned other people.
Anarchists, Agitators or Protestors who vandalize or damage our Federal Courthouse in Portland, or any Federal Buildings in any of our Cities or States, will be prosecuted under our recently re-enacted Statues & Monuments Act. MINIMUM TEN YEARS IN PRISON. Don’t do it! @DHSgov
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2020
There are so many more events that contradict themselves in dark and humorous ways. I can’t get to them all. Like I said, I don’t want to be the guy who laughs at others’ misfortunes and especially not their terminal stupidity, but 2020 was a bitch, and here we are.
I do want to touch on one more irony.
Regarding the Gadsden flag, the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. Most, if not all, Trump supporters fly this flag defiantly, like a poke in the eye to all government types. They fly it from their raised trucks or nail it to their barns in an attempt to tell the U.S. Government to leave them the hell alone. To them, it’s a symbol of their independence. It’s a way for them to shout to anyone in eyesight that they don’t need politicians to tell them what to do. But, in reality, this flag was created with the idea that Americans, United States citizens, need to come together because we as a whole are a greater sum than our parts. This flag that Trump followers are using to create further division was originally made to inspire people to unite.