Due to pandemic travel restrictions, suggests a droll tweet making the rounds, the U.S. has been reduced to sponsoring a coup in its own capital for a change.
The Jan. 6 riot by Trump loyalists inspired lots of reaction and debate, here and abroad, mostly grieving over the assault on the U.S. peacock of democracy.
Headlines cry that the U.S. Capitol was under siege, attacked, assaulted, with mobs storming the gates, anarchy abroad in the U.S.A., as insurrectionists tried to topple the U.S. government. This was a "coup" attempt, many declared.
I understand the criminality of the mob's action, incited by President Donald Trump himself, who asked his patriots to storm the Capitol because they are very special people.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump's TV lawyer, declared that it would be a "trial by combat." Trump, who invoked the racist slogan during BLM protests of "when the looting starts the shooting starts," encouraged the looting of the most revered democratic building in the land.
But at the end of the day, when the dust settled, the electoral vote counting proceeded and Joe Biden was declared our next president. Republican Party loyalists are now exercising extreme political distancing from the infectious loser. Some, like Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Jim Jordan and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have shared Trump's stolen-election myth. The GOP has been appeasing Trump for four years, supporting his insidious racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-women, anti-worker, anti-climate, anti-multiracial democracy rants.
And yet, our multiracial democracy used voting rights to get this white nationalist out of the White House without a coup. When pundits and politicians call what took place on Jan. 6 "insurrection" or a "coup," it is hyperbole.
When is a coup really a coup? According to Webster's, the definition of a coup is "the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group."
Jonathan Powell, an expert on coups defines a coup d'état as "an overt attempt by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting head of state using unconstitutional means." The deed needs to meet three conditions:
1. Are the perpetrators agents of the state, such as military officials or rogue governmental officials? In this case, no; only Trump is an official.
2. Is the target of the insurrection the chief executive of the government? No, the target here was the Capitol.
3. Do the plotters use illegal and unconstitutional methods to seize executive power? Nope, only smartphones.
Those quick to call the attack on the Capitol a coup should look at the military coups worldwide.
America either masterminded or supported the following coups and attempts: Syria, 1948; Iran, 1953; Guatemala, 1954; Congo, 1960; Dominican Republic, 1961; South Vietnam, 1963; Brazil, 1964; Chile, 1973; Algeria, 1991; Egypt, 2013; Turkey, 2016; Bolivia, 2019; the list goes on.
The few thousand people who went to the Capitol Jan. 6 never dreamed that they would go that far and it would be that easy to storm the building. I've visited the Capitol a few times, and I know how hard it is to get even close to Pennsylvania Avenue.
In 2016 when the Turkish military rolled tanks into the streets to take over, President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdogan used his iPhone to send a message to his supporters to get out to the street and face the tanks. The coup failed.
But in Egypt a few years earlier, when General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stormed the presidential palace riding his tank, toppling the first democratically civilian-elected President, Mohammed Morsi, thousands of people marched into the street to protest the military coup, knowing that they could be massacred.
Most Americans thought Jan. 6 was just another rally to flatter Trump's ego. They didn't think it was a coup.
They all knew that we only do coups outside the United States.
Ahmed Tharwat, host and producer of the local Arab American TV show "BelAhdan with Ahmed," writes for local and international publications. He blogs at Notes From America: www.Ahmediatv.com. Follow him on Twitter: @ahmediaTV.