The Republican Party has been struggling to turn the failed Trump coup and violent insurrection of 1/6 into a day of heroism and patriotism. And one of their tactics is to re-paint dead domestic terrorist Ashli Babbitt as a martyr. Putin tried lending a hand in his pre-summit remarks, referring to her death as an "assassination." Keep in mind that Señor Trumpanzee was still president when Babbitt, wearing a Trump flag as a cape, was shot breaking into the Capitol space where members of Congress were sheltering through a shattered glass window. Putin also said that the hundreds of insurrectionists arrested are being subjected to "persecution for political opinions." They may both me fascists, but Ashli Babbitt is no Alexei Navalny. He's a legitimate opposition leader. She was an anti-mask, deranged QAnon believer-turned-domestic-terrorist who was in DC, not as a tourist but, in her sick mind, to overthrow American democracy.
Writing for Salon yesterday, Matt Rozsa, noted that "Whether or not Donald Trump and his movement think they are doing Babbitt a favor by lionizing after her death, she has clearly become a sacrifice to the ex-president's ego and glory. Trump's supporters are eager to uncover the name of the police officer who shot Babbitt, but much less eager to remember that she died after Trump urged an angry right-wing mob to storm the Capitol. The video of her shooting, which makes clear that Babbitt and other members of the mob were literally trying to break into the House chamber and attack members of Congress, is likewise swept under the rug. That's without even mentioning the obvious fact that Babbitt died in service of the bogus cause of Trump's Big Lie about the 2020 election."
Trump recently told a crowd of his supporters in Florida that he wanted to know the identity of the police officer who had shot Babbitt, suggesting there was something sinister at work. "We all saw the hand, we saw the gun," Trump said. "You know, if that were on the other side, the person that did the shooting would be strung up and hung. OK? Now they don't want to give the name... It's a terrible thing, right? Shot. Boom. And it's a terrible thing."
There's a disturbing historical echo behind Trump and his supporters' effort to manipulate Babbitt's death this way, an echo also clearly referenced in Rod Serling's script for the Twilight Zone episode. That would be the case of Horst Wessel, who became for Hitler and the Nazi Party what Babbitt may now be for the Trump.
Born in the German city of Bielefeld in 1907, Wessel was a law school dropout who joined the SA or "brownshirts," the Nazi Party's paramilitary organization, during the waning days of the Weimar Republic in the late 1920s. He was perhaps more like a member of the contemporary Proud Boys or Oath Keepers; we still don't know how deeply Ashli Babbitt was involved with right-wing extremism. At any rate, Wessel impressed future Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, helped organize the Nazi youth movement in Vienna and staged or led numerous violent street clashes in Berlin with Communists-- the antifa of their day, more or less. Wessel fancied himself as a tough guy and sought out situations where he could act out his macho impulses. Given that, his death almost had elements of farce. After a dispute with his Communist landlady-- which was likely over unpaid rent, not politics-- Wessel was shot on the street by two other Communists on Jan. 14, 1930. He died in a hospital a few weeks later, three years before the Nazis took power in Germany.
Wessel looks like a distinctly mediocre individual in the historical rear-view mirror, but the Nazis transformed his life and death into legend. In a campaign approved by Hitler and led by Goebbels, Nazi propaganda outlets depicted him as a hero. His funeral procession was viewed by 30,000 people who lined the streets of Berlin. He become the subject of a major motion picture and was honored by numerous monuments and books. A song Wessel had written for the SA the year before he died, later universally known as the "<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCixvCRi4pk>Horst Wessel Song<>," became an unofficial anthem of the Third Reich: According to a 1934 law, every German citizen had to give the "Hitler greeting" upon hearing it.
As far as we know, Ashli Babbitt didn't write a song and had no previous history of right-wing violence. But like Wessel, she cannot be described as a peaceful protester or even an overzealous advocate for a dubious cause. She died in a violent attack against democracy, as part of the first serious effort in American history to overturn an election by force. She died based on the lies of a would-be authoritarian dictator, the first American president to resist leaving office after losing an election. Her death was a personal tragedy, no doubt. But now the cynical movement that sent her to die in the Capitol wants to exploit that tragedy by turning her into a martyr for fascism. We've seen that before, and we've seen where that can lead-- to a place even darker than the Twilight Zone.
David Cohen reported for Politico yesterday that appearing on Fox Señor T "widely praised those who attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the insurrection at the Capitol, repeatedly using the word 'love' to describe the tone of the event. Echoing his rhetoric about the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Trump said, 'These were peaceful people, these were great people.'... [H]e also said the rally participants were patriots, that some of them were unjustly arrested and jailed, and that a woman who was shot and killed by law enforcement during the insurrection was a great hero. The remarks reflected recent efforts by Trump and his supporters to cast themselves as the aggrieved parties from the Jan. 6 riot, which left five people dead and others injured-- and, for a brief time, halted the wheels of democracy as President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College was being confirmed by Congress."
“The crowd was unbelievable and I mentioned the word ‘love,’ the love in the air, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said of his rally on the Ellipse. “That’s why they went to Washington.”
He added: “Too much spirit and faith and love, there was such love at that rally, you had over a million people,” inflating the size of his rally crowd.
After Trump’s speech, the Capitol was invaded by backers of his seeking to disrupt the Electoral College count. On the way in, they battled with police officers; according to the Department of Justice, approximately 140 police officers were assaulted. Hundreds of those who entered the Capitol have been charged with various crimes, including more than 50 who have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.
Trump and Bartiromo both expressed outrage over the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt within the Capitol, implying repeatedly that there was a cover-up at work. Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, was fatally shot as she tried to climb through a broken window during the insurrection.
“Who is the person that shot an innocent, wonderful, incredible woman, a military woman, right in the head?” Trump said. “There is no repercussion-- that were on the other side, it would be the biggest story in this country. Who shot Ashli Babbitt? People want to know and why.”
Bartiromo then referred to Babbitt as “a wonderful woman fatally shot on January 6 as she tried to climb out of a broken window.” Their remarks echoed those of some of Trump’s backers, including Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who has claimed Babbitt was “executed.”
Referring to his remarks to the crowd before they stormed the Capitol as “a very mild-mannered speech,” Trump also suggested that the blame for any violence that day could be placed on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats because they didn’t take the potential for violence seriously.
“They are the ones that were responsible,” he said.
Meanwhile, the GOP hopes to whitewash the insurrection are running into a little problem in Congress. By blocking the nonpartisan commission, McConnell, tossed a toxic football back to McCarthy who now needs approval from both Pelosi and Trump for who will serve on the House's select committee. Pelosi will never allow seditionists like Marjorie Traitor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, Mad Cawthorn, Matt Gaetz to serve-- and those are basically the members Trump wants on the committee, so he can be sure they will turn the hearings into circuses. On top of that, The Hill reported this morning that internally, McCarthy's selection "can't alienate one faction of McCarthy's conference or another, which could threaten his chances of becoming Speaker if the House flips in next year’s midterm elections." Also, other than the seditionists themselves almost no Republican members want anywhere near the shitshow in the making.