San Jose These are wild and crazy times, and I’m not just talking about America, but bear with me.
We had the January 6th thing. We all know this was a wannabe revolution. In other words, we could say it was an uprising that hoped to get lucky. Thousands hoped to push and shove at the Capitol doors and see if the government fell. Same for the Bundy boys out West, who thought it would be a good idea to try to take control of federal land. Mostly the government’s response to these things has been patience during the event and punishment afterward.
I’ve run lots of tough actions, though none of them aggressively violent. In the excitement of the marching and chanting, folks push on doors hoping they will open. They push against people hoping they will move. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t. Mostly, this isn’t a plan so much as it is creating unpredictable opportunity, which equals pressure on the target to understand we mean business.
When you add open carry and guns galore and then mix it all with anger and passion, that’s a whole different ballgame, which is why it’s fair to call January 6th an insurrection. Same thing with guns and trucks in Ottawa. Ditto the Bundy’s. None of this is a parade or a rally.
Sure, a demonstration is about showing anger and opposition, but when it comes down to it, we always tell the cops, we’ll be gone when the buses come. For these pistol packers, when it doesn’t work out in the way the organizers and some of the demonstrators might have wished in their most exciting fever dreams, then the current playbook seems to be to just call it a protest, which is what the former US president and some of his fans in Congress and the Republican Party have tried to call it.
Some of this doesn’t translate well around the world, take for example in the area around the Ukraine and Russia. The leader of the Wagner Group of mercenaries that have been the shock troops in Ukraine and the proxy fighters in several African countries for Russia as well has big guns and a lot of trucks but a mess of tanks to go with them. When they started rolling within 200 kilometers of Moscow and claimed a town on the border, Russia’s longtime autocratic leader, Putin, was clear this was an insurrection, and rather than being Trudeau patient or Biden tight-lipped and critical, he claimed he was going to crush them. The Wagner boss with help from the leader of the Russian satellite country Belarus cut a deal to hide out there and get a bass for his troops. What do you know, he’s now saying it was just a protest. He wasn’t trying to bring Putin and his government down, any more than the Jan sixers were trying to do that to Biden and the US government. On, no, all of this is just a protest.
There’s a moral to this story: don’t bring guns to a protest. The targets get confused. The members think you’re serious. By definition, it’s all out of hand, whether here or abroad.