Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

America’s Fascism Problem Won’t Go Away

I was 17 years old when I was almost stabbed by a Trump supporter. This is forever burned into my mind; blood on the sidewalks, people crying for help, friends being brutally beaten. 

Three years ago, in Washington D.C., there were two violent incidents leading up to Jan. 6 that have largely escaped public memory. The Million MAGA March of Nov. 14, 2020 and the Stop The Steal rally of Dec. 12, 2020 were urgent warning signs of what was to come. Yet, these warnings fell victim to the violent apathy of polite liberal society. As I worked these past few months to bring “Free The People,” the documentary capturing D.C.’s uprisings, to Whitman, I found myself constantly drawn back to those two moments in time: they continue to haunt me for good reason. 

The events of Nov. 14 and Dec. 12 both resulted in anti-fascist protesters hospitalized for severe stab wounds and other injuries inflicted by Proud Boys. Far too often, these scenes of political violence are waved away with dangerous rhetoric blaming ‘both sides.’ The problem, however, is not just that there are no ‘two sides’ to resisting fascism, but that violence like this is normalized by a public desperate to will it away. I am haunted by these attacks because the violence will continue, unchecked, as liberals have dug their heads in the sand and we have chosen to forget something that must never be forgotten.  

On the night of Nov. 14th, I had been supporting a group of anti-fascist protestors who were resisting the growing fascist threat in our capitol. Our march had been strategically pushed by D.C. Police towards Harry’s Bar, a known haunt for Proud Boys. 

I remember looking at my friends in the protest behind me, and I remember turning around to a wall of Proud Boys running towards me. That was when I blacked out. 

Three years have passed and I still can’t remember how I ended up on the sidewalk. To my right was a woman drenched in blood, clutching her face. To my left was a friend lying unresponsive on the ground. The crowd that stabbed four people and injured countless others was chanting, “USA! USA! USA!”

I was frozen. Fellow medics had to push me up the street, away from the immediate danger where my friend, who had been standing right next to me, was sitting. They had been stabbed in the arm. 

There was too much blood.

Two inches to the left and that would have been me. I will never understand why it wasn’t me. Apparently, this is called survivor’s guilt. 

I still hear the screams, still smell the mace in the air, still see the blood in the street.

It is hard to come to terms with what happened that night. This was real, pre-fascist violence, and yet these events have been completely forgotten by the public. 

My humanity, and the humanity of my friends who risked their lives fighting the same fascists who would later storm the Capitol, was routinely denied. First by the Proud Boys, then by the police and then by the public – who viewed and dismissed these acts as foolish behavior on both sides. 

Allow me to further elucidate this foolish behavior:

In a kettle, Lt. Jason Bagshaw picked up a volunteer medic helping a stabbed victim and threw him like a rag doll. 

I had to beg for my life as the Proud Boys broke through a police line on Dec. 12th and attacked us. Why couldn’t I run away? Because the other side of the street was blocked off. An officer threatened to mace me as I ran towards their blockade – away from the stabbings. There was no escape. 

It wasn’t until a few days later that I would see pictures of Lt. Jason Bagshaw, then-leader of the Special Operations Division, casually talking with Proud Boys, giving them fist-bumps, that I would truly understand what had happened that night. 

Even more than the fear, I remember the violent apathy of the people in polite society.

Perhaps, in the context of a year full of uprisings, police violence and numerous atrocities committed by the state, people found themselves too exhausted to care. Perhaps it was not their problem until the fascist violence reached the Capitol; their symbol of authority. 

There was no moral outrage at the fact that D.C. residents had been stabbed and beaten by the President’s foot soldiers. Were we an unsympathetic group? Would it have been better if I had offered myself up as a martyr? Would they have cared then? 

No, it wouldn’t really matter until the government itself was attacked. Our young, innocent, victims of color were no match in the liberal psyche for the injured police officers who, only a few months prior, were busy tear-gassing and beating D.C. residents.

Levin Professor of History at Yale University Timothy Snyder writes in an op-ed for the New York Times, “America will not survive the big lie just because a liar is separated from power. It will need a thoughtful repluralization of media and a commitment to facts as a public good.” 

This commitment to facts and repluralization of media should begin at the most fundamental level: acknowledging what really happened in the months leading up to Jan. 6th, the culmination of the big lie. 

We must record and share the violence inflicted by Trump’s foot soldiers and other fascist sympathizers.

It starts with this article.

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    fredOct 19, 2023 at 12:17 pm

    why should we believe your story ?