“What happened to the American dream? It came true. You’re looking at it.”
– The Comedian, “Watchmen” (2009)

Many of the faces were already familiar. We saw them in real-time, smashing Capitol building windows, scaling walls, and parading through the halls of Congress, beaming with self-satisfaction. We could see their every emotion as they desecrated monuments, urinated on carpets, and sat behind lawmaker’s offices as if winning something they had fought so very hard for; a treasure they had valiantly won after a long and brutal struggle. We saw their faces because they wanted us to.

This was not an insurrection, it was a livestreamed social media white fantasy. They had chosen their costumes with great care: some ridiculous American caveman cosplay or a patriotic Pinterest outfit with a new hat they thought made them look cute for their selfies that captured them looting and destroying and damaging and assaulting.

Most did not make an attempt to conceal their identities: a product of how emboldened they felt in this aggression, how unafraid of accountability they were, and the story they’d told themselves about how righteous they imagined their cause, as they committed a deadly act of collective terrorism against the very heart of our democracy.

We saw their radiant cheshire cat grins; their sweaty, red-faced tirades; the snarling, disfigured fury as they assaulted police officers and crushed one another in crowded hallways on their way to what they believe was their destiny: a grand revolution.

But the question decent Americans are asking today is the same one we were asking on January 6, the same one we’ve been asking since November of 2016: A revolution of what?

What precisely were they overthrowing? What exactly were they protesting? How specifically had this nation so grievously wronged them? As critical as those questions are, they are a fruitless endeavor, because the truth of the matter is — they would not be capable of a response.

This was a nothing revolution: an empty display of cheap anger formed in staggering privilege, made of fake oppression, inflamed by a massive lie — and directed toward a man who fully embodies them: one who has had everything in this life handed to him and is perpetually outraged when he cannot have more.

As the stories of these wannabe revolutionaries are being revealed, we are seeing the truth: that these were not the poor, rural whites the media has been telling us were the heart of this trashcan despot’s rabid base who Blue voters need to understand.

They were people wealthy enough to travel across the country on a whim after a year of economic disaster: people with businesses and government jobs and private planes and huge sponsored social media platforms. These were not the downtrodden and misrepresented and vulnerable of our nation finally rising up to fight the powers that be: they are the powers that be who can’t recognize that by attacking the system they were assaulting themselves.

Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” This, is not that.

These people have been the most heard since they were born—since this nation was first founded on genocide, erected on colonialism, built upon slavery, and maintained by racism. They have always had a voice, always been catered to, and never been marginalized in any true measure—which is why losing an election now feels like some horrible systemic wrong that is that last straw in a fictional pile of injustices they have had to carry and could no longer. Their violence was not a desperate cry for justice, it was a spoiled toddler’s tantrum with deadly consequences.

I cannot help but think that the great season of personal loss for these fairy tale white patriots began when a Black man was elected president 12 years ago; that the mere reality of that man’s existence fully accelerated it all: their rabid gun lust, their toxic religious apocalypse visions, their irrational fear of immigrants, and every defense mechanism, against America doing to them what they had been doing to America since they were born.

It was a marvel to see the absolute most privileged humans walking the planet still manage to convince themselves that they are oppressed — to be culpable for a murderous act of terrorism and to somehow be even more defiant after it.

History will record and quantify the events of January 6th, but it will tell a very different story than the one playing in the heads of the perpetrators and of their disgraced, emotionally bankrupt white messiah.

It will pass the judgement without prejudice: This was an empty insurrection. It was a hollow treason. It was a meaningless rebellion. It was a deadly, costly nothing revolution.

John Pavlovitz

Blаck Consеrvаtivе Prеаchеr and Youtube

The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com

John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.