The Associated Press attempted to do some damage control Friday with an article criticizing Republicans' alleged exploitation of the rhetorical precedent set by the American left concerning what makes for an insurrection. The Washington Post attempted something similar earlier this month, denouncing comparisons between the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and the various Democratic attacks on legislatures ever since.
For years, the characterization of the Jan. 6 riot was used to great effect, particularly as a rationale for applying harsher sentences to protesters, censoring speech online, and preventing Republicans from holding, seeking, or staying in office.
However, in recent months, Democrats and other radicals have stormed various state capitols, threatening the lawmakers therein and holding democratic processes for ransom. As keen observers have noted the staggering similarities between these incidents and the 2021 episode that the media continues to call an "insurrection," liberals have sought move the linguistic goalposts.
The duo behind the AP article, Kimberlee Kruesi, a pronoun-providing self-titled "reporterette" based in Tennessee, and so-called misinformation journalist Ali Swenson, accused Republicans of inappropriately painting recent leftist attacks on state legislatures in "darker tones."
The duo referenced the suggestion that Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr, born Zachary Raasch, was responsible for "encouraging an insurrection" as the latest instance of Republicans taking Democrats' lead on adopting inflammatory rhetoric.
TheBlaze previously reported that LGBT extremists stormed the Montana Capitol in support of Zephyr, who had been censured over hateful anti-Christian comments directed at his Republican colleagues last week for which he refused to apologize.
The Democratic rioters besieged the House doors, crowded the House gallery, and hurled obscenities at the Republican lawmakers below, who were instructed to clear the floor out of concern for their safety.
Hours after police restored order and carted several rioters away, the Montana Freedom Caucus issued a statement, claiming, "Representative Zephyr encouraged these actions by standing in the middle of the floor encouraging an insurrection after all members were told to move to the sides and clear the House gallery to remain in a safe location."
The AP duo noted that this was the third time in the last five weeks that Republicans "have attempted to compare disruptive but nonviolent protests at state capitols to insurrections."
Ever since the Jan. 6 riot, where an unarmed protester was killed, Kruesi and Swenson claimed, "Republicans have attempted to turn the phrase on Democrats."
Andy Nelson, Democratic Party chair in Missoula County, told the AP, "They want to ring alarm bells and they want to compare this to Jan. 6. ... There’s absolutely no way you can compare what happened on Monday with the Jan. 6 insurrection. Violence occurred that day. No violence occurred in the gallery of the Montana House."
Another instance where Republicans saw fit — on the basis of the standard set by Democrats and the media — to intimate an insurrection took place was in late March when leftists stormed the Tennessee Capitol on March 30, threatening, "No action, no peace."
Whereas the corporate media claimed the incursion was a "peaceful protest," as they had with the BLM riots that did nearly $2 billion in damage and killed between 6 and 20 people, House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) suggested the behavior was "at least equivalent, maybe worse depending on how you look at it, of doing an insurrection in the Capitol," reported the Washington Post.
Democrats were angered by Sexton's application of their own standard.
Tennessee Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons said, "They are trying to dismiss the integrity and sincerity of what all these people are calling for. ... They’re dismissing what it is just to avoid the debate on this issue."
Here is some footage of the scene at the Tennessee Capitol on the day of the attack:
Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina who adamantly pushed for former President Donald Trump to be impeached, similarly downplayed the Tennessee incursion, telling the Associated Press, "Disrupting things is a far cry from insurrection. ... It's just a protest, and protesters are not insurrectionists."
Citing legal experts, the AP duo provided the following definition of "insurrection": "a violent uprising that targets government authority."
Although the duo strongly intimated the Jan. 6 riot satisfied this definition, having allegedly constituted "an assault on American democracy and the peaceful transfer of power," they did not spill much ink in the interest of distinguishing the episode from recent Democratic state capitol attacks.
They did, however, appeal to Harvard University law professor Laurence Tribe's sense that the Montana and Tennessee Capitol attacks did not involve "real attempts to dismantle or replace a government, so it's wrong to call them insurrections" — something that perhaps could also be said of Jan. 6.
Sen. Ron Johnson noted in a May 19, 2021, Fox News interview that "even calling it an insurrection, it wasn’t. I condemned the breach, I condemned the violence, but to say there were thousands of armed insurrectionists breaching the Capitol intent on overthrowing the government is just simply a false narrative. … By and large it was peaceful protest except for there were a number of people, basically agitators, that whipped the crowd and breached the Capitol."
Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) said, "There was an undisciplined mob. ... There were some rioters and some who committed acts of vandalism. But let me be clear: There was no insurrection."
American attorney and investigative journalist Jeffrey Scott Shapiro noted in the Wall Street Journal last year that the "events of Jan. 6, 2021, are misunderstood, and the failure to correct the record could be damaging to both America’s future and its justice system. Words have to have meaning, and the continuous mislabeling of the U.S. Capitol breach as an 'insurrection' is an example of how a false narrative can gain currency and cause dangerous injustice."
While recognizing that various crimes were committed on January 6, Shapiro underlined that "not one defendant is charged with insurrection under 18 U.S.C. 2383. That’s because insurrection is a legal term with specific elements."
"The events of Jan. 6 also fail to meet the dictionary definition of insurrection, which Merriam-Webster defines as 'an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government,'" continued Shapiro. "A real insurrection would have required the armed forces to quell an armed resistance. ... The misuse of words, especially involving criminal accusations, can easily result in overreaching enforcement of the law and a chilling effect on free speech, all of which have already happened — and in this case, endanger the very system the rioters’ accusers purport to protect."
Although the AP and the Washington Post are critical of Republicans' possible misuse of the terms "insurrection" or "insurrectionist," such as when Florida Republicans accused Democrats accordingly in April 2022, they are not similarly critical of the precedent set by their peers and favored politicians.
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