American hypocrisy comes home to roost in Capitol Hill riot
Danny Haiphong
National Guard soldiers are seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 14, 2021. /Xinhua

National Guard soldiers are seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 14, 2021. /Xinhua

Editor's note: Danny Haiphong is a journalist based in the United States and activist with the No Cold War international campaign. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

On January 6, Donald Trump's most loyal supporters participated in a riot on Capitol Hill. Some participants destroyed property; others brandished weapons. Thousands originally gathered to express outrage at unfounded claims by Trump that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. Five people would lose their lives in the riot. Prominent members of Congress such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez condemned the riots and immediately began moving forward with impeachment proceedings just weeks before Trump's official exit from the White House.

Beginning in the summer of 2019, the U.S. political class had a very different reaction to riots occurring in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of China. Rioters gathered in the thousands in crowded areas; property was destroyed, civilians targeted with violence, and universities and other public institutions occupied and used as weapons depots by these rioters.

The aims of the riots were geopolitical in scope. Millions of dollars from the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy flowed to the most visible organizations involved in the riots.

Unlike the home-grown riots that occurred on Capitol Hill, members of the U.S. Congress offered full solidarity to the violent acts in Hong Kong. Pelosi called the riots in Hong Kong "a beautiful sight to behold." She and Republican Senator Marco Rubio took pictures with riot leaders. Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz, now at odds over the Capitol Hill riots, wrote a joint letter to condemn the National Basketball Association (NBA) for not providing full support to former Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey's remarks of solidarity with Hong Kong rioters. U.S. support for Hong Kong riots was a bipartisan affair. However, since U.S. jurisdiction never extended to Hong Kong, such support for the unrest was a blatant violation of China's sovereignty.

While the United States is often described as a democracy, hypocrisy is a much more fitting term. The Capitol Hill riots are an international embarrassment and as such have received no support from the same members of the U.S. political class that so enthusiastically backed the chaos in Hong Kong.

Radical protesters attack police officers in Tsuen Wan, in the western New Territories of south China's Hong Kong, August 25, 2019. /Xinhua

Radical protesters attack police officers in Tsuen Wan, in the western New Territories of south China's Hong Kong, August 25, 2019. /Xinhua

Yet rioters in Hong Kong shared many similarities in tactics and politics with those who stormed Capitol Hill. Both could be found sporting American flag and pro-Trump regalia during their illegal activities. And both committed acts of violence against government buildings and officials in the name of "democracy."

Hong Kong is just one of many examples where the United States has supported policies toward other parts of the world which are wholly unacceptable for itself. In Latin America, U.S. support for opposition protesters in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua in the last two years alone has led to several coup attempts and the enforcement of illegal sanctions that have killed thousands of civilians. U.S. support for armed groups in Syria and Libya dating back to 2011 have been touted as efforts to bring "democracy" to these countries but have instead left the region in a state of non-stop instability and violence.

These are just a few examples which show that the United States is perfectly fine with chaos so long as it does not come storming onto its own doorstep.

The chickens of American hypocrisy that came home to roost on January 6 should serve as a moment of reflection. Trump may be primarily responsible for inciting the riots, but the entirety of the U.S. political establishment shares much of the blame. For four years, Democrats and Republicans alike mounted little opposition to Trump's scapegoating of China for the mishandling of COVID-19. Trump's overall political orientation that non-whites and anti-police brutality activists were in fact the primary obstacles to "making America great" was rarely a point of contention, either. Issues such as mounting economic inequality and endless public expenditure on war were virtually ignored in place of non-stop media coverage of Trump's latest scandal.

Hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 deaths and a sunk economy later, and it appears few lessons have been learned from Trump's four years in office which culminated in the January 6 riots. Trump may or may not be impeached for the second time in two years, but the root causes for what happened on January 6 remain firmly intact. The United States is a society that calls itself a democracy but really is an expert at hypocrisy. Centuries of racism, economic inequality, and interventionist foreign policy do not disappear when a president leaves office. Resolving the historic roots of contemporary maladies requires massive public action in the interests of human life over the selfish quest for profit and unipolar hegemony. If the inconsistencies in the United States' approach to Hong Kong and its own home-grown riots are any indication, then American hypocrisy is likely to be the rule rather than the exception for the foreseeable future.

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