Politics abound with oddities, but perhaps none is greater than the elite’s disproportionate reaction to the Jan. 6 Capitol mayhem as opposed to their response to the largely black rioting following George Floyd’s death. While the black rioting drew tens of thousands of participants, lasted months, and was indisputably violent with billions in property damage, the “Trumpist” occupation lasted only five hours and participants did not kill anyone or wantonly destroy property. It is hard to imagine two more profoundly different events, and critically, the differences were visible to TV viewers.
Why did the widespread, plain-to-see, Black Lives Matter violence during the COVID-19 epidemic receive a pass—even occasional praise—while Jan. 6 is treated akin to Pearl Harbor? Actual behavior is irrelevant. The explanation, in my estimation, lies in who the protestors were—blacks vs. Hillbillies. Put bluntly, blacks can riot for months, loot stores by the hundreds, and otherwise run amok; Hillbillies, by contrast, need only arrive in their pick-up trucks, assemble peacefully, and express some patriotic clichés, and this inspires dread in the left.
While elites largely turned a blind eye toward Blacks Lives Matter and their camp followers, even poo-pooing the widespread destruction of small businesses and the subsequent violent crime wave, they have depicted the Jan. 6 event as an “armed insurrection,” “ an attempted coup d’etat,” the "worst attack on the Capitol since the British burned it down in the War of 1812," and a "threat to our democracy" unrivaled since the Civil War, while describing the participants as “domestic terrorists.” Over the course of four months as many as 26,000 troops were deployed to protect the Capitol though the threat of imminent violence was minimal. That the House of Representatives recently voted for $1.9 billion to enhance Capitol security suggests that the Jan. 6 incident was, indeed, truly terrifying to the D.C. elites.
At the core of this elitist fear of Hillbillies (aka Po White, Rednecks, or Trailer Park Trash) is the elite’s realization that these denizens of rural America enjoy an almost genetic immunity to today’s race-based, politically correct narrative. Yes, the Dukes of Hazzard County folk may not be the brightest bulbs in the chandelier or especially well-informed politically, but when they hear mendacious anti-American lies, they may as well be rocket scientists. They admire America for what it is, not according to some bizarre ideology cooked up in a faculty lounge. Unlike timid elected officials, these people are not afraid of expressing “offensive’ views.
Imagine, for example, if some well-paid “race educator” showed up at Audie Murphy High School in bucolic West Virginia to instruct students on their toxic white privilege. He would be, of course, expensively dressed and paid $5,000 for his efforts. He’d inform youngsters that slaves built America, that black crime is entirely due to systemic white racism, that payment of reparations is a moral obligation, and all the rest of the critical race theory (CRT) religion. Keep in mind that most of these “privileged whites” in this area of West Virgina are dirt poor, have family who have died of drug overdoses, suffer from chronic alcoholism, and face long-term unemployment.
He would not receive a warm welcome. His audience would consist of patriotic Americans who refuse to accept the blame foisted on them by CRT. And, unlike over-socialized Ivy League students, they would express their “hateful” views face-to-face. No doubt, the “educator” would report back that he has uncovered rampant white supremacy, a bastion of the KKK, and all the rest that terrifies the liberal elite. A more accurate assessment is, of course, that our race hustler has uncovered a nest of unbelievers happy to speak the unspeakable truth.
Hillbillies refuse to be placated by the elite’s permission to run wild and grab free stuff. No member of the White Trash Community will have their political grievances satisfied by looting Farm and Fleet or upsetting tables at a Cracker Barrel.
The Hillbilly Community is not easily bought off with elite-supplied goodies such as overpaid jobs as professors of Appalachian Studies or campus directors of outreach dedicated to targeting underserved rural populations. Nor are they willing to sacrifice personal freedom (and self-respect) to qualify as affirmative action hires. Chuck Yaeger would never have enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces if they lowered standards to fill diversity quotas.
Participants in the Jan. 6 event are dangerous because they are unbelievers. They cannot be bribed into drinking the fake, racial grievance Kool-Aid at a time when being a “good citizen” means embracing falsehoods, it is this honesty that truly does make them dangerous.
Robert Weissberg is a retired professor (emeritus) of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He writes from New York.