◎ There are uncanny parallels between what has happened post-Jan. 6 in America and the CCP political campaigns of yesteryears.
Updated on Feb. 15, 2021
In the eyes of establishment media, pundits, and politicians, there is only one acceptable way to view the breach of the United States Capitol building on Jan. 6—a “domestic extremist” insurrection incited by then-President Donald Trump and an assault on American democracy. This view is presented as fact and widely repeated, even though investigations into the incident are still ongoing and do not support such a black-and-white explanation.
The establishment view has not shifted one iota even with the emergence of evidence debunking the narrative. News reports note that the Capitol rioters broke through barricades 20 minutes before Trump finished his speech, where he explicitly called on his supporters to protest “peacefully.” Subsequent FBI work has since shown that the Capitol breach was pre-planned, not spontaneous. Conservative commentators have also condemned talking heads in establishment media for repeating ad nauseum horrifying details about the Capitol attack that new investigations have since overturned, particularly the “murder” of U.S. Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick by rioters with a fire extinguisher (medical autopsy found no evidence of blunt force trauma). Many observers have also wondered why there was a lack of outrage from the establishment over the Black Lives Matter/antifa riots in the summer of 2020 that resulted in at least $1 billion in paid insurance claims, or how an unruly mob at the Capitol counts as an insurrection—particularly when juxtaposed with an actual coup as occurred in Myanmar on Feb. 1.
Instead of holding good-faith debates with opponents to reach the truth, the establishment doubled down on casting its version of events as reality and drowning out alternative narratives. They also darkly signaled the fate of those who challenge the “insurrection” narrative or the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. An establishment media host raised the idea of killing American citizens in drone strikes for the “crime of inciting violence, inciting terrorism.” Former senior intelligence officials talk about dealing with Trump supporters (“religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, even libertarians”) as if they were overseas insurgents. A large-scale “de-radicalization approach” must be taken to “deprogram” President Trump’s “political cult members,” who believe “Joe Biden didn’t win the election,” according a media interview with a retired senior FBI official. A New York Times reporter called on the Biden administration to appoint a “reality czar” to “put together a cross-agency task force to tackle disinformation and domestic extremism.” Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress used the establishment narrative on the Capitol incident to press ahead with a trial to impeach Trump for “inciting an insurrection,” an effort that respected historian Victor Davis Hanson compared to “public shaming like the Communist Party used to make people wear dunce caps.”
Professor Hanson’s reference to the Chinese Communist Party’s Cultural Revolution is pertinent. We see an uneasy echo in the establishment’s divisive discourse in “post-insurrection” America and what the CCP has done in its political “rectification” campaigns in the People’s Republic of China. Historical experience portends a bleak future for the United States and the world if the Biden-Harris administration takes the establishment’s divisive rhetoric to its logical conclusion.
The CCP elite uses political campaigns to consolidate power and “normalize” communist rule over China. In most political campaigns, the Party designates a segment of the population as the enemy (“counter-revolutionaries,” “capitalist roader,” etc.), then relies on propaganda organs to set the new political reality and acceptable discourse. Through indoctrination or intimidation, the rest of the population is made to struggle against the demonized segment lest they are struggled against. Struggle against the demonized involves violence, public humiliation, economic persecution (firing people from jobs), and death. The Chinese people are encouraged to report on those who belong to the enemy class, even if it means betraying family and friends. Those who fail to stay “politically correct” are at risk of being lumped in with the “class enemies” and persecuted. If the Chinese people are insufficiently cowed into participating in the CCP’s political campaign, the Party will ensure that there is bloodshed. “Divide and conquer” is the name of the game, and the CCP assumes the role of a quasi-divine “people’s savior” who “brings order out of chaos” (撥亂反正). In the course of a political campaign, the CCP redefines morality, reconstitutes truth and falsehoods, and rebuilds society from the ground up. Successful political campaigns leave the Party with an even stronger grip on power and society, and a “rectified” population that is simultaneously in fear and awe of the communist regime.
There are uncanny parallels between what has happened post-Jan. 6 in America and the CCP political campaigns of yesteryears. The establishment is promoting one accepted way to view the Capitol riots in the face of evidence challenging that view, and is designating as enemies the segment of the American population that supports former President Donald Trump or expresses skepticism about the outcome of the 2020 election. The current political climate has prompted people to report their family and friends to the authorities—the FBI received more than 100,000 such tips, according to the Washington Post. In China, virtually all the Party’s political campaigns feature the establishment of a political orthodoxy and encourage informants in a bid to turn the masses against each other. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s Communist Party promoted devotion to the Chairman and the notion of “better red than expert”; many Chinese people turned in those deemed not sufficiently “red” or who were “guilty” of mocking Mao to the authorities. Between 1966 and 1976, millions were persecuted in the name of preserving the “politically correct” establishment view at the time.
Perhaps more disturbing is the establishment’s drive to label one segment of Americans as “domestic extremists” and “political cult members.” Likewise, the CCP claimed practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline belonged to an “evil cult” when it launched its anti-Falun Gong political campaign in 1999, and designated Islam an extremist threat to the PRC when it embarked on its campaign against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. The Party did not stop at rhetoric. Today, a million or more Uyghurs are incarcerated in industrial-size detention facilities in Xinjiang, where, following their political and social ostracization by the Party media, they have been subjected to brainwashing “re-education” adopted from the Falun Gong campaign, as well as torture, rape, and slave labor. Falun Gong adherents suffer similar brutal persecution, and comprise the bulk of the prisoners of conscience in China whose organs have been forcibly harvested. In Communist China, divisive, vilifying rhetoric is always a prelude to tragedy.
It may be argued that the “insurrection” narrative promoted by the U.S. political and media establishments will not lead to authoritarianism because they are not the CCP, and America is not Communist China. Indeed, there is little indication that the Biden-Harris administration is acting on the “domestic war on terror” exhortations of former intelligence officials or the establishment media, at least at the time of writing. Yet President Joe Biden did promise to confront and defeat “political extremism, white supremacy, [and] domestic terrorism” in his inaugural address, while remaining vague on their definitions. Moreover, the current toxic political climate and authoritarian turn in America—arbitrary social media censorship, “cancel culture,” and the dominance of “woke” ideologies—provides fertile ground for a mode of persecution that may be lesser in scale and intensity, but no less disturbing than the abuses that occur under the CCP.
It is now within the realm of plausibility to envision a scenario in which a Trump supporter voicing non-mainstream views on social media gets reported on by informants, gets fired from her job for supporting “insurrection,” and is unable to secure legal representation to fight her case in court because lawyers risk being fired from their law firms for aiding “insurrectionists.” A more extreme scenario could see individuals who peacefully protest the insurrection discourse in public or organize investigations into irregularities in the 2020 U.S. presidential election get arrested and be subjected to psychiatric treatment in detention as part of “deprogramming.” “Deprogramming” and “reeducation” are already underway in American schools—teachers are instructing their students on the politically correct way to understand the Jan. 6 incident, and The New York Times has rolled out “teaching resources” with leading questions to “help students make sense of the rampage at the Capitol” and entrench the establishment’s insurrection discourse. Given the present trajectory, the day is not far off that political life in the United States reflects the repression of socialist Venezuela.
The die, however, is not cast. Many Americans still adhere to the country’s founding documents, values, and principles. They believe in truth and facts, and are skeptical of media spin and one-sided narratives. How constitutionally-inclined Americans respond to creeping authoritarianism at home is of critical importance for the rest of the world—the establishment media narrative is also propagated and widely accepted internationally as the definitive account of events, shaping the outlook of the free world. “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth,” as the popular adage goes.
To strengthen their resolve to speak truth to power, Americans can look to the example set by PRC dissidents. The truth about the Tiananmen Square massacre, the horrendous persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, and the evils of the regime are known to the world because generations of dissidents are determined to get the facts out regardless of the Great Firewall, heavy censorship, and the often steep personal costs associated with telling the truth. As a result, Chinese dissidents have denied the CCP total control over what constitutes reality in mainland China, and even inspired millions to partake in a grassroots movement to symbolically renounce the Party.
Millions of Americans are constantly seeking out the truth, peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights in the face of intimidation and censorship, and take political action where appropriate. As long as Americans continue to practice the lessons taught by their Founding Fathers and stand up for their rights, the loss of those rights is by no means inevitable.