Whatever happened on Capitol Hill last week cannot be described as a ‘coup’, and cannot be placed at the feet of Donald Trump. That would, in any previous society, seem obvious, but in the current halls of mirrors of social media, the obvious is not so obvious anymore.
A coup is an attempted governmental take-over, with the illegal replacement of a sitting, legitimate government. Yes, there was violence, on both sides, the provenance of which is still being sifted. But that troupe of misfits wandering through the halls of America’s legislature, taking selfies, committing some vandalism, riffling papers, looking like bemused tourists, could in no way ‘take over’ much of anything; even a flash mob sing-along would seem beyond their powers of organization. Were they Trump supporters, set-up stooges, a mix of both? The guy in the Viking get-up is, apparently, a professional actor. Fitting, for in some ways, it seems a tragic, Monty Python-esque sketch, that got out of control.
The connection of all this with the sitting President is also controversial and opaque. I have my reservations about Donald Trump, but then I have my reservations about most people, including myself. His use of rhetorical, even at times unfortunate, language – as is the wont of almost all politicians – was not, however, an enticement to sedition. None of this would stand up in any normal court of law. Whether his actions were ‘unbecoming a President’ is debatable – all of his words could be understood in a metaphorical sense – fighting for the country, showing strength and resilience and so on. America is a military nation, with a violent past, and such language would, in other circumstances, be construed as ‘normal’.