American Benghazi

Dear Reader (Not including “Via Getty,” the biggest jerk of them all),

They picked a specific, historically significant date to launch their attack. It was organized and coordinated. Officials knew an attack was possible but didn’t prepare. Four people were killed. Almost instantaneously, the attack became a political and ideological football.

I’m talking about the raid on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. The Obama administration, heading into a presidential election, dissembled, obfuscated, and lied about the nature of the attack. Officials pushed the idea that the attack was really a spontaneous response to an obscure anti-Islamic video. Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, even told the families of the dead that she wouldn’t rest until they brought the maker of the video to justice. They eventually arrested him on unrelated charges. Democrats and a cooperative media launched a major “national conversation” over the limits of free speech. The idea that mobs of terrorists were somehow or somewhat justified in murdering Americans if they were sufficiently offended was widely debated by Very Serious People.

On Wednesday, we saw a right-wing Benghazi. The analogy isn’t perfect; I don’t think Trump planned a violent attack on the Capitol. He was merely cavalier about the possibility. Though, I could be wrong. Thanks to Trump’s cowardly definition of manliness, he often winks and nods that he wouldn’t mind violence. And when people act violently on his behalf, he has a history of offering his approval. Indeed,  if reports are true, he was reluctant to put an end to the siege once it started.

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