One of the videos documenting last Wednesday’s violence shows a mace-saturated woman named Elizabeth, upset that someone stopped her and her associates from “storming the Capitol,” because “it’s a revolution.”
Those of us who weren’t there sift through these fragments of visual evidence, like the scattered pieces of some shitty, tedious jigsaw puzzle. There are a million details to get our heads around. I see this video, and maybe my thoughts are like yours. I don’t know Elizabeth. I’m sure she has people, and a past. I doubt she would have gotten away with a mere macing if she’d been Black. I doubt she has studied any actual revolutions, or history at all. I doubt she sees herself for what she’s become: cannon fodder in a monumental delusion. I’m certain her presence in that mob was predictable.
She’s wearing a scarf imprinted with a piano keyboard design. Why does that dumb detail jump out at me? In the eighties, in high school, a dear friend of mine owned a scarf like that. It seemed harmlessly tacky back then—goofy band-geek garb that made adolescence more bearable. Now, I see that scarf on Elizabeth, and I want to scream. Talk about the banality of evil.
There’s a scene in Back to the Future where Doc Brown, in 1955, is astonished to learn that Ronald Reagan will be president in 1985. (“Then who’s vice president?” he asks sarcastically. “Jerry Lewis?”) Knowing where Reagan’s revolution led, the joke isn’t funny anymore. Even a failed insurrection causes lasting damage. I’m sure Elizabeth has people, and a past. Her presence in that mob was predictable. It was all predictable. I turn away from the video, but I still want to scream.