Last week was a bad one for right-wing crybaby culture. Scarcely had Boss Trump’s paranoid mob retreated from the U.S. Capitol than the whining began. My favorite thing on Facebook was a photo of two guilty-looking dogs welcoming their master at the front door: “We’re so glad you’re home,” the caption reads. “Antifa have done a s—t in the hallway.”
This even before news reports documented that members of the mob had done exactly that in the halls of Congress — urinated and smeared feces on the walls. A junior high school rebellion if ever one was.
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Several members of the GOP Clown Caucus — Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar of Arizona — nevertheless argued, as Gaetz put it, that the rioters were “masquerading as Trump supporters and in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.”
Over on Fox News, Laura Ingraham took up the cry.
The mythical antifa, that is, which has never been shown to exist as an actual organization outside the metaphysical netherworld of Trump’s tweets. It’s at worst a campus debating society, otherwise a hoodoo; a haint; a boogeyman signifying his followers’ fears.
See, that’s the thing about Boss Trump, who is now the only American president to be impeached twice: Even before he’s an epic liar and blowhard, he’s also a world-class crybaby. Everybody’s always picking on him, and nothing has ever been his fault.
OK, so he urged a mob to march down Pennsylvania Avenue and “fight like hell” to prevent Congress from certifying his electoral defeat. “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” he said in a soon-deleted tweet.
Deleted by Trump himself, that is, just before Twitter deleted him altogether, something the company ought to have done two months ago after he began his post-election whinefest.
“Sacred,” no less. Boo hoo hoo.
They allowed him to lie, but Twitter’s terms of service do forbid threats of violence.
On cue, certain of Trump’s most reckless enablers declared that they too had been victimized. Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican last seen raising a clenched fist to the rioters, denounced publishing giant Simon & Schuster for canceling a book contract with him.
Downright “Orwellian,” he claimed. “It’s a direct assault on the First Amendment,” he wrote. “Only approved speech can now be published. This is the Left looking to cancel everyone they don’t approve of. I will fight this cancel culture with everything I have. We’ll see you in court.”
Now, you’d think that a privileged character like Hawley — a banker’s son who attended Stanford University and Yale Law School before becoming a Mizzou law professor and state attorney general, and then ascending to the U.S. Senate — would know perfectly well that the First Amendment does not entitle him (or anybody else) to a book deal.
In reality, I’m confident he does know it. There will be no lawsuit. But Hawley is betting that benighted Trump supporters whose votes he hopes to inherit do not.
Similar First Amendment hokum was vended by former White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Writing on Twitter, ironically enough, Sanders complained, “I’ve lost 50k+ followers this week. The radical left and their big tech allies cannot marginalize, censor, or silence the American people. This is not China, this is the United States of America, and we are a free country.”
Yes, and we remain free to ignore Sanders’ whining, as her high school civics teacher took to Twitter to remind her.
Any newspaper that doesn’t like this column is free not to print it. Nobody can make them.
And I remain free to write that Sanders and Hawley sound like big babies. Government can’t stop me. That’s what the First Amendment is all about.
But back to the biggest whiner of them all. For as long as he’s been in public life, Boss Trump has urged boycotts and threatened reprisals against individuals and organizations that criticize or otherwise offend him.
It’s one of the disappointments of my life that my scribblings remain too obscure to attract the great man’s ire. However, a list of all the columnists and TV journalists that he’s demanded be fired could fill this entire column. He’s called for boycotts of Apple, CNN and Amazon — the last to put pressure upon The Washington Post, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Trump threatened to revoke NBC’s broadcast license, demanded the immediate sacking of the “failing” Wall Street Journal editorial board, and denounced the “failing” New York Times. (Both, in reality, are thriving.)
Those fulminations drew nary a peep, of course, from born-again civil libertarian Hawley, and certainly not Sanders, who often endorsed Trump’s threats.
But you know what? The coming week’s planned uprisings on the occasion of Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday will fail, too. Forewarned, real soldiers will be guarding the Capitol this time, and the renegade crybabies will soil their pants and go home.
Gene Lyons is a columnist for the Arkansas Times.
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