By the time Congress reconvened on Wednesday evening, National Guard forces had joined local police to escort insurrectionists from the building. Most of them left while waving their hands in triumph, without even a threat of arrest. From there, they retired to their luxury hotels to sit together and share stories and germs while celebrating the perfect day they will always remember.
House members had a bit of a wait as Capitol maintenance staff, mostly Black workers who had been forced to shelter in place as armed white supremacists went screaming through the halls, cleaned up the mess and made their space ready to resume the nation’s business. While those things were happening, Republicans were also busy—busy deciding that they would explain away their failed attempt to overthrow the United States government on a movement founded on racism, hate, and lies … by spreading more racism, hate, and lies.
Representatives like Matt Gaetz returned to the House to claim it was not Trump supporters who had been wearing those Trump hats, waving those Trump banners, and shouting those Trump slogans. It was antifa. A whole busload of antifa. And as he told this lie, his Republican colleagues applauded.
Antifa does not exist. Many Americans—one would hope, a large majority—are, in fact, anti-fascist. But the big, organized, and apparently well-funded boogieman that Republicans invoke for every act of violence, or imagined violence, simply does not exist. There are small groups, especially in the Northwest, who like to show up at white supremacist rallies and confront their members. Had they been present in Washington on Wednesday, they would have been fighting against the Trump supporters, not with them.
By the time Gaetz made his false claims shortly after Congress reconvened in the desecrated Capitol, the antifa claims were already running regularly on Fox News and blazoned across every mention of the violence in right-wing media. There were secret antifa people hidden among the Trump supporters. Lots of them. Within minutes of the capital police giving way on the steps outside Congress, the narrative had already gelled—an unnamed former FBI agent had somehow identified “at least one busload of Antifa thugs” who had infiltrated peaceful Trump supporters. That claim didn’t just become widespread, it became the baseline for “reporting” by Fox and other right-wing sites.
These are not Trump supporters, lied guest, after reporter, after pundit. Not our people.
Except, of course, they were. In December, Donald Trump made it clear that he wanted people to come to Washington, D.C., on the day the electoral votes were counted for a “wild” protest. He used that term repeatedly in his invitations to supporters, along with claims that this was their last opportunity to “stop the steal.” This was, after all, the “march to save America.” From the outset, it was clear that those most enthusiastic about the march were the Proud Boys, militia groups, and others who clearly heard Trump’s wild talk as an invitation to come to D.C. and do their worst. That’s who came.
The Sparrow Project has flipped through just a few of the images from Wednesday’s assault and come up, not surprisingly, antifa-dry. The guy mocking the traditions of American Indians, was Arizona QAnon supporter Jake Angeli, a “fixture at right-wing political rallies.” With him is neo-Nazi Jason Tankersley. Another Nazi participant can be easily identified by his "Camp Auschwitz" hoodie. One of the people that right-wingers keep circling in pictures as a “known antifa member” happens to be actually known as white supremacist Matthew Heimbach.
One of those who invaded Nancy Pelosi’s office, read her emails, and rifled through her files was right-wing reporter for Glenn Beck’s BlazeTV Elijah Schaffer. Others known to be in Pelosi’s office—where furniture was damaged, mail and other items were stolen, and Pelosi’s sign was ripped from the wall and destroyed—included holocaust-denying streamer Nick Fuentes and his Nazi buddy “Baked Alaska” Tim Gionet. Gionet is also a “very fine person,” who was a keynote speaker at the Charlottesville rally. Oh, and he recently tested positive for COVID-19. Have fun with that, other maskless invaders.
At least two of those who invaded the Capitol were actually elected Republican officials. That includes Derrick Evans of West Virginia who helpfully filmed himself committing multiple felonies. Another would be Steve Smith, who is not an elected Republican committeeman in Pennsylvania, but a member of the Keystone Skinheads.
It’s not as if many of these people were hiding their faces or their identifies. That includes heavy metal musician Jon Schaffer, the author of a “drain the swamp” song, who gave an interview after raging through the halls in a vest with Trump’s face.
The woman shot, and sadly killed, while trying to smash through a door into the House floor was Ashli Babbitt, a San Diego QAnon believer whose last post warned, “Nothing will stop us…. they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours.” As usual, you have to hand it to antifa. Not only do they have the money to send people everywhere, and the stealth to slide those buses into place without notice, they apparently employ nothing but vampires who never show up on camera.
No matter how much or how loudly Republicans lie, these were white supremacists, neo-Nazis, QAnon fanatics, and plain old fascists—in other words, the people who now make up the base of their party. And efforts to lie about it have one purpose: To enable these people to do it again.
Let Congress know what you think about members like Matt Gaetz trying to cover for Nazis.