Was January 6 a setup?

A still from Episode 2 of Tucker Carlson’s Patriot Purge as he describes the purge of American citizens in the incipient Second War on Terror.

The people in charge, they’re literally declaring war on their own population…. The helicopters have left Afghanistan, and now they’ve landed here at home. They’ve begun to fight a new enemy in a new war on terror. Not, you should understand, a metaphorical war, but an actual war. Soldiers and paramilitary law enforcement guided by the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies, hunting down American citizens, purging them from society, throwing some of them into solitary confinement.” 

That’s the close to the second episode of Tucker Carlson’s new three-part series on the lead up to and aftermath of January 6th, Patriot Purge. Throughout the series, the mysterious “people in charge” come after true American patriots, armed with a massive surveillance state and a battle-hardened military trained in a 20-year war. The war on terror didn’t actually end, but simply morphed into “America’s second war on terror: the domestic edition.”

The series moves at lightning pace, jumping from accusation to accusation so that it seems like the whole country is caught up in a grand conspiracy. Early in the first episode, Carlson asks “What actually happened on January 6th? How much of what we were told about that day is a lie?” With Patriot Purge, Carlson invites us to do a hard reset on our beliefs about the Capitol Riot. We can throw out everything we think and replace it with the next hour of coverage. We can learn “what actually happened on January 6th.” 

That reprogramming begins quickly when Carlson interviews far-right activist Ali Alexander who explains that “Stop the Steal was the most law abiding movement that this country has seen in modern times.” Contrary to what you might assume from the countless Trump flags and paraphernalia at the rallies, it was actually a “bipartisan movement.” 

A few minutes later, a reporter for Glenn Beck’s The Blaze breaks down how the government’s soft response to left-wing rioters in 2020 was actually “part of a narrative to gaslight the right wing.” By convincing them that they wouldn’t face prosecution for their actions, the left duped the right into rioting. Later we learn that it wasn’t really the right rioting at all, as professional agitators and ANTIFA were mixed into the crowd to start trouble. Capitol police officers were in on it too, firing tear gas into a peaceful mass of people so that they would respond by storming the Capitol. The innocent protesters were then either welcomed in by the police or pushed in against their will by the flood of people behind them. Remember, “everything we’ve been told about that day is a lie.”

Episode one is nothing to scoff at, but it’s the second episode when Tucker really puts his foot on the gas. Turning his attention to the aftermath of January 6th and the “purge aimed at legacy Americans,” Carlson makes the comparison between the War on Terror and the prosecution of rioters his centerpiece. 

Since January 6th, the Biden Administration has launched the biggest and most technologically sophisticated manhunt in American history. They’ve described it as a shock and awe campaign against our own people…. Shock and awe, sound familiar? It means that some of the same veterans who kicked in doors to fight Al Qaeda terrorists are now having their doors kicked in…. Facial recognition software, online sentiment analysis tools, old-fashioned snitching––all of the Orwellian methods employed by the surveillance state in the War on Terror…. It took a decade for the federal government to find Osama Bin Laden. They can find you a lot faster. They likely already have.

Carlson goes on to explain the goal of it all––to systematically dismantle any vestige of how America used to look, just like “they” did to the Afghan political establishment after invading. 

In the final episode, Carlson shows us what happens if you dare to challenge the regime. After the Patriot Act, “Our government can now order assassinations,” Carlson says to footage of a drone strike followed by the shooting of Ashli Babbitt during the Capitol Riot. The gloves came off following 9/11, and “Now, 20 years later those same ungloved hands that tortured and killed suspected foreign terrorists have been unshackled on behalf of a political party here at home. Suddenly the United States of America has political prisoners.” 

If it isn’t already clear, Patriot Purge is a massive conspiracy theory. America is at war with itself, and we certainly aren’t a democracy. Who exactly is running the show and why they’re so malevolent is never quite clear, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Patriots can’t trust anyone except each other––every institution is against them––and they can only win by reclaiming the country from the occupying force.

While the January 6th conspiracy might strike you as outlandish, Tucker is arguably the most powerful person in media with a finger on the pulse of his base. As the series makes clear, the proof is all around us if we want to see it. You can notice it in how social media platforms regulate speech, how the DOJ seemed to prosecute January 6th-ers and not Black Lives Matter protesters, and how Trump supporters at the Capitol were labeled domestic terrorists by the media. To many, Carlson will just solidify what they’re already suspecting.

When Carlson speaks, people listen. If enough people decide to sign up for the streaming-only Fox Nation that hosts it, Patriot Purge could become for the January 6th conspiracy what the video series Fall of the Cabal was for QAnon––a primer and a catalyst. 

Now Patriot Purge is less crazy than Fall of the Cabal (Carlson never mentions how the sinking of the Titanic was an inside job, for example), but that will just make it all the more palatable to the millions of Americans in his audience. By watering down his conspiracy, Carlson could actually perpetuate the core political messaging of QAnon: the world is managed, and it’s managed by a malevolent, shadowy group which exerts its power through corporations, think tanks, and the government. You are either with us or against us. Evil is waging war against good, and the good side (i.e. Republicans) desperately needs to wake up. 

In Tucker’s conspiracy series, Trump doesn’t need to be on a mission from God and the Rothschilds aren’t in the picture. Democrats are still plotting to destroy America, and patriots should respond forcefully.The ideology is different, but the essence is still there, and following Patriot Purge it seems that QAnon––forever doomed to the fringes for being so eccentric––might have outlived its usefulness. With Patriot Purge, Carlson offers QAnon’s core message a shot at the mainstream. The results could be catastrophic.

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Aaro Berhane

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