At the height of the riots in Portland over the past several months, the actual mayor of the city had to flee his home. Riots made it too dangerous for him and his neighbors.
Mayor Ted Wheeler had all but declared himself an antifa cell leader. He marched with them and publicly sympathized with them despite the fact that they were engaged in open insurrection against our country while turning his city inside out. They still drove the hapless trust fund baby from his very expensive downtown condo. Later, they accosted him at a local restaurant.
So, the man actually did experience a riot and he may have even feared for his life a time or two. More than two dozen Americans were killed in the orgy of rioting that made 2020 so memorable.
Wheeler hasn’t come out with a video begging for sympathy, and if he did fear for his life, he wasn’t alone in that fear. Millions of Americans live in the cities that antifa, BLM, and so forth rioted in and burned, multiple times in some cases. Residents of every city that experienced rolling riots had reason to fear that mobs could start fires, attack police and civilians, and block streets at any moment. Even in normally sleepy Provo, Utah, mobs illegally blocked streets. One rioter shot a man as he was just trying to pass through.
Riots happened all over the country. Sections of Minneapolis burned after Mayor Frey failed to put the riot down quickly. From there violence spread nationwide, tearing the country apart. Sections of Kenosha, Wisc., burned. Seattle turned part of itself over to insurrectionists who declared a temporary tiny country. Dallas, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, St. Louis — riots everywhere. Portland went from being a lovably dopey coastal city to a freak show and stayed there for about 100 days straight. Now its reputation is trash. Insurrectionists attacked police headquarters, federal buildings, and ordinary businesses — in multiple cities across several weeks.
A mob blocked a street in Austin, Texas, late one Saturday night. That turned deadly in a flash when one of the rioters brandished a rifle at a driver — who was a military member and licensed handgun carrier. Riots did stop in Austin shortly thereafter.
Millions of Americans responded by buying guns for the first time in their lives. They didn’t do that because they were confident about the future. They did that because AOC and her allies were busy defunding police when they weren’t actively supporting the violent riots.
I bring all of this up not to rehash the past year, but to wonder again if the synapses in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s brain ever make the most obvious, elementary connections. Or if there is anything genuine or honest about her at all. Does she experience empathy for anyone other than her extremist squadmates?
AOC’s tactics by now are well established. When she wants to put out a purposeful message she goes to social media and posts a video monologue. She can speak there unchallenged by questions, reporters, or facts. Commenters and followers fawn over her every word, like, reply, and spread her message virally for free. Journalists tend to report what she says uncritically, amplifying her chosen message and lending her undeserved credibility, then they wait for responses to report. It’s easy work. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em journalism. When pushback arrives from pundits or other members of Congress, AOC doubles and triples down, often accusing them of what she has done to deflect from whatever weaknesses or deceptions her critics have exposed.
Her latest episode may be her most galling yet. As my colleagues Matt Margolis, Rick Moran, and others have reported, AOC posted a video claiming she hid in her bathroom during the January 6 Capitol riot and thought she was going to die that day. Rioters, she said, were going door to door and got to her office, or so she thought. It turned out to be a Capitol police officer, and she smeared him for doing his job. In that, she joins Joe Biden and other Democrats who said aloud that the Capitol police were racist in how they handled the events of that day. So much for unity.
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AOC is evidently stealing several bases here, though. The riot was in the Capitol itself, while her office is in the Cannon building. She was in one place or the other during the riot, but not both. Most Americans who don’t live in Washington don’t know anything about the Cannon building. Heck, I worked in and around Washington for several years but always found congressional office locations challenging to find.
When called out, AOC doubled down, saying her critics exploited people’s misunderstanding of the layout in D.C. But she did that in her initial video — most Americans haven’t been to a congressional office and don’t know much about the underground tunnels or where congresscritters make their nests.
Giving AOC every benefit of the doubt — which is something she never gives anyone who disagrees with her — her mind should have made a very simple and obvious connection, one that would have altered her thinking about the past year and the one ahead.
If she feared for her life that day, what about the millions of Americans whose cities were plagued by deadly riots for days, weeks, and months? Did we have any less reason to fear than she did? No, we had more reasons to fear than she did. AOC and her ilk were cheering on the “defund the police” activists during active, violent riots.
Are they all sociopaths?
What about the police officers who had to deal with the violence? What about their families, who never knew if the riot of the day would claim the life of their loved one? What about the business owners whose livelihoods were looted or even went up in flames?
What about those of us who love our country and were heartbroken to see it torn apart?
Did AOC ever consider the impact of the riots that she supported on everyday, innocent Americans? Did she ever once consider the possibility of backlash or retaliation?
There’s no evidence she did. AOC would tweet or say, in friendly interviews, that people need to be made uncomfortable and the demonstrations and riots accomplished that. She said that some people “have no choice but to riot.”
But all that has consequences. Silence is violence, and so is speaking, according to AOC and her allies. AOC never demonstrated that she cared about the people affected by her rhetoric tacitly supporting rioting and violence across America — at all.
There’s a term for those who claim heroic military service when they either never served or never saw the combat they claim: stolen valor. AOC’s claim to fear during the Capitol riot is a species of stolen valor. She may have feared the chaos, but it evidently didn’t get to her doorstop and didn’t force her into hiding in a bathroom. She is trying to claim and weaponize a moral authority that her actual experience doesn’t merit, in order to bludgeon her opponents and smear all Republicans in Congress. Her aim is not truth, but more raw power. That’s disgusting in and of itself, but it’s hardly a disqualifier among Democrats. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from Connecticut, used to claim combat service in Vietnam. He served during the Vietnam war, but it turns out he never left the United States. That’s stolen valor. He keeps winning elections anyway.
So will AOC, unless the New York Democrats draw her out of a seat in redistricting. She may then challenge Sen. Chuck Schumer and it’s not impossible she could win. She’s a master of modern propaganda and he’s no spring chicken. She has mastered the art of always being on offense, no matter how ridiculous she may look to some. In the age of performance art as governance, AOC is a natural. The alleged media amplifies her and covers for her.
But AOC is also heartless and cruel, as this episode shows. Not once has she truly sympathized or expressed real empathy with the millions of Americans who faced deadly, destructive riots in the midst of a pandemic. She has never publicly said the name “David Dorn.” Not once has she sympathized with workaday folks just trying to make ends meet in the most uncertain of years when leaders in her party went about destroying jobs by locking whole states down. AOC sided with the rioters when it suited her, she smeared police when it suited her, and she is stealing valor when it suits her.
Like most Democrats, AOC claims to care about the little guy. It’s a front, a lie. AOC only cares about herself and advancing her extremist agenda — even if you have to lose everything and die for it.