On Wednesday, the Washington Post published a detailed dive into the apparently incomprehensible motivations of the Jan. 6 insurgents,and came to a conclusion that’s so ridiculous it’s almost offensive.
Here’s how it opens:
Jenna Ryan seemed like an unlikely participant in the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. She was a real estate agent from Texas. She flew into Washington on a private jet. And she was dressed that day in clothes better suited for a winter tailgate than a war.
“But in a different way, she fit right in,” the story continues.
Ah, you might think, they’re acknowledging the characteristic of whiteness that typifies the defining majority of Trump supporters—as seen in the sea of them that gleefully descended on the U.S. Capitol to throw a violent tantrum because their man didn’t win.
You’d be wrong. Instead, the lede is actually teeing up readers to find some understanding for Jenna Ryan’s decision to take a private jet to Washington D.C. to join the storming of the Capitol. Why? Because she’s paying off $37,000 in unpaid taxes.
“Nearly 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades,” the story goes on to say.
That may be true, but that doesn’t make the insurgents unique among other Americans. More than 63 percent of people in this country live paycheck to paycheck, 68 million Americans have debt in collections, and 60 percent of Black Americans have reported facing serious financial problems during the ongoing pandemic—including suffering from a depletion of savings, an inability to pay their rent and mortgage as well as credit cards and other debt, losing their jobs and being unable to afford medical care—while only 36 percent of white households say the same.
Researchers have also found that many of the Capitol insurgents were CEOs, business owners, doctors, lawyers, IT specialists and people who hold other white-collar jobs. Many of the insurgents were also members or ex-members of the military and law enforcement.
But the Washington Post shines the spotlight on the supposed financial woes of people like Jenna Ryan, Georgia lawyer William Calhoun who had a $26,000 tax lien in 2019 and a member of the Proud Boys named Dominic Pezzola who owes state taxes, to help explain why those folks engaged in the unprecedented violence that took place in the nation’s capital on Jan. 6.
“The financial missteps by defendants in the attempted insurrection ranged from small debts of a few thousand dollars more than a decade ago to unpaid tax bills of $400,000 and homes facing foreclosure in recent years,” reads the article, failing to note that owing over 400 grand in taxes is a problem only a specific segment of the population can even identify with—I certainly can’t.
“Some of these people seemed to have regained their financial footing,” the article continues. “But many of them once stood close to the edge.”
I assume the repugnant “close to the edge” justification is meant to describe people like 22-year-old Riley June Williams, who the article makes sure to point out has parents who “filed for bankruptcy when she was a child.”
I guess we’re supposed to believe Williams felt so stung more than two decades later that she was driven to steal Nancy Pelosi’s laptop with reported plans to sell it to Russian spies.
Meanwhile, Ryan, who proudly posted photos next to broken windows at the Capitol, where she promised news stations to “come after their studios next” as well as a video screaming she was “armed and dangerous” because America is apparently turning into Venezuela, is now worrying about having to face time behind bars for her treasonous activities.
She told the Post she’s concerned about what will happen to her two mini-goldendoodle dogs if she goes to prison.
Ryan may not have to worry. With the media producing laudatory profiles of the unrepentant attackers who took part in an insurrection that left five people dead, and a court system that has already allowed a suspect to vacation in Mexico for a company retreat, white privilege is likely to work just as it always has—to protect certain people from the consequences, and even an honest acknowledgement, of their base, entitled motivations.