Friday , February 26 2021

Memo to self

Summary:
From Peter Radford This is short: I have been accused recently of mis-using the word “coup” when I discuss the events of January 6th.  Worse, I have been called ignorant. Here is what the dictionary says: Coup = a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government. Perhaps my critics would feel safer with “insurrection” which seems to be the preferred word in the media. Here is what the dictionary says: Insurrection = a violent uprising against an authority or government. The subtlety of the difference between the two words seems to revolve around the first being seizure of power, whilst the second is an uprising against those in power.  Beyond that they are both a reference to violence and an attempt to unseat, or change government.  Presumably a failed coup implies that

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from Peter Radford

This is short:

I have been accused recently of mis-using the word “coup” when I discuss the events of January 6th.  Worse, I have been called ignorant.

Here is what the dictionary says:

Coup = a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.

Perhaps my critics would feel safer with “insurrection” which seems to be the preferred word in the media.

Here is what the dictionary says:

Insurrection = a violent uprising against an authority or government.

The subtlety of the difference between the two words seems to revolve around the first being seizure of power, whilst the second is an uprising against those in power.  Beyond that they are both a reference to violence and an attempt to unseat, or change government.  Presumably a failed coup implies that power was not wrested from the government despite the attempt.

Let’s review January 6th:

A large crowed assembled in Washington at the behest of the recent loser of an election

That loser had insisted since the election that it was unfair and that the exposure of the fraud would result in a victory, rather than a loss, for him.

Indeed, the loser of the election had been preparing the ground for this post-election position during the months leading up to the election.  He had routinely claimed that if he lost it could only be because of fraud.

The loser’s supporters were thus primed to suspect the election result, and were ready to reject it.  So some of them made plans to target specific opponents; they brought weaponry for the purpose; they carried out intelligence-gathering in order to find their way around the Capitol; and they cooperated in groups in order to amplify their strength.  They were intent on violence.

So, when the loser of the election issued a summons to his supporters in December, saying that they should assemble in Washington on January 6th and that the day would be “wild”, this supporters, or at least the more agitated of them, took the summons as a call to arms.

The significance of January 6th is clear: it is the day on which Congress assembled to accept, as a matter of pro-forma protocol, the election result.

But this year protocol was ignored.  The loser’s party, incited by the loser, and in order to show loyalty to him, also rejected the election result.  So instead of a pro-forma event, the assembly of Congress was a heated confrontation.  Calls were loud and insistent for members of Congress to vote against the election result.

This created the possibility, in the minds of the loser’s more ardent supporters, that the result might, indeed, be overturned.  A false belief was created.  It was false because the loser’s party does not have exclusive control of the process, and the winner’s party could enforce the election result.

Nonetheless the loser of the election encouraged and abetted his supporters in this false belief and staged the aforementioned rally on the day Congress met.

At the outset of the rally the loser and various of his notable confidantes excited and incited the crowd, not only in this belief, but in the thought that they could march on the Capitol where Congress was meeting and challenge the election result directly.

In particular, the loser of the election sought to identify the soon to be ex Vice President, whose role that day was to preside over the meeting of Congress, as a potential traitor to the loser’s cause if he failed to overturn the election result.  Other figures in Congress were also identified during  rally speeches as enemies — they were said to be perpetuating a fraud against the supporters of the loser of the election.

So the scene was set.  The loser of the election himself then urged the crowd to head to the Capitol and intercede in the proceedings. His intent was clear: he was urging his supporters to prevent the affirmation of the election result.  His words were specific.

A large and especially ardent section of the rally crowd took the loser of the election at his word and headed to the Capitol with the consequence that we now are well aware of.

Was this an attempted coup?

It was certainly an illegal attempt to seize power from the government.  And it was manifestly violent.  That the government being attacked was, in fact, led by the very person inciting the uprising and violence, does not diminish the effort.  It was a very specific and organized attempt to prevent the reins of power moving from one faction to another.  It was a violent attempt to prevent the orderly transition from one government to another.

So, yes, in my mind it was an attempted coup.  Call it an insurrection if you want.  If the nuanced differences satisfy you in some way, go ahead.

It was a coup.  It failed.

We need to account for it properly so that history can write the correct narrative.

And those who participated in the attempted sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from our government, must be punished.

This is not a moment to split hairs, nor to try to sugar coat reality.

There was coup attempt.  It failed.  Now let’s pick up the pieces and stop throwing silly epithets about rather than in getting on with the task of rebuilding.

/rant

Peter Radford
Peter Radford is publisher of The Radford Free Press, worked as an analyst for banks over fifteen years and has degrees from the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School.

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