Or so it will read in the annals of history when they are compiled by Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kayleigh McEnany, and all the other enabling middlemen and middlewomen who "translated" Trump's lies into English and shamelessly fed them to the American people—all day every day—from the inauguration in 2017 to the Epiphany Insurrection yesterday.
And what was engendered by the constant proliferation of fabrication and deception? We got this from the president: praise for the "great patriots" who breached the Capitol and once inside looted and destroyed, and a tweet telling them “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!"
They will. Many of them will remember the day when they stand in a courtroom confronted with federal charges, their faces having been plastered all over television screens for four hours. Anonymity isn't as easy as it used to be, and my experience with Google Photos tells me that facial recognition software is, as Larry David might say, pretty, pretty, pretty good. Some of these criminals have already been arrested. More will join them. Proud Boys in prison—could be Netflix series. Here's hoping.
And again, what is engendered by a constant proliferation of fabrication and deception? Tweets like this one:
That from a 35-year-old Air Force veteran and business owner from San Diego, an ardent Trump supporter whose radicalization was fed by Qanon postings and grim depictions of the deep state. Her name is Ashli Babbitt. Today she's dead, shot by Capitol police as she tried to crawl through a broken window into part of the building that was secure and being defended by force.
Her ex-husband described her as smart, "very loud and opinionated, but caring, sweet, thoughtful, loving." How does a smart and loving person make a choice like that—how does she trespass in the face of armed law officers in a federal building and feel no trepidation? It's not enough to chalk it up to cultism. There are men and women who fed that sickness, most with names we will never know. But we do know Conway, Spicer, Sanders, and McEnany. And now we know Cruz and Hawley, rapacious egotists to whom the death of some anonymous woman from out of town means nothing. And we know sad ciphers like Tommy Tuberville and Kansas's Roger Marshall who used doctored videos to win his seat in November. (Why not? He's a doctor.) All of them threw in with Trump, promulgated his lies, and excused his behavior. They're culpable. Period,
And Ashli Babbitt is dead.
No doubt there will be thoughts and prayers today for her and the other victims of yesterday's failed insurrection, and every newly-converted-to-wisdom Janus like McConnell and Graham and Sasse will lead the condolences. But it's too late for them to recant: her blood is on their hands as surely as it is on Cruz and Hawley's—as surely as it is on the hands of all of us who didn't work hard enough to remove Trump from office, or at least demand better of a president. For my generation democracy was always a spectator sport—we rooted for the team we wanted and waited for the results. It always seemed to work out. Now we know better.
On Wednesday morning Trump riled up the crowd and said he would march with them to the Capitol, then retreated to the safety of the White House like the coward he has always been. Last night when I heard that Trump was alone, stripped of Twitter and Facebook access, I thought of that venerable Edwin Arlington Robinson poem, "Richard Cory." Trump's egotism will no doubt save him from such a fate, and probably excuse him from any complicit guilt in the death of Ashli Babbitt. If he mentions her at all, it will be as a martyr—an honor he apparently forgot to bestow on Heather Heyer in Charlottesville in 2017.
It's up to us to remember her, and Ms. Babbitt, and yesterday's debacle. And all those who wish to call it another "day of infamy" must remember that the true day of infamy was November 8, 2016. That's when we sowed the seeds and sold out the country. Yesterday was just the reaping.