Notes from overseas

The storming of the Capitol was ‘nine-elevenish’, in the sense that, even though it happened far away, I couldn’t stop watching.

Some thoughts and observations, during and after this event:

* Fake news can cause genuine anger.

* The blond woman wishing

‘May Biden and Harris rot in hell, where they belong!’

made the question ‘Where is the line between anger and hatred?’ seem irrelevant.

The Greenwich Meridian

* To what extent is ‘Trump-anger’ entwined with personal problems?

* In America there seems to exist a phenomenon that one could call ‘loserfobia‘. Many live in the grip of a pathologic fear of being seen as a loser, extreme to the extent that the fact that you have lost has to give way to ‘alternative facts’.

And once you, yourself, are mentally ‘grafted’ onto someone else, his loss becomes yours, often adding up to your own frustrations, becoming too much to bear.

* So, I suggest a new word in English:

Angerstackdifferent causes for anger piled up.

Thames Barrier / How to stem the tide?

* One fact, two explanations: does the fact that a Capitol policeman lets himself be used for a selfie with an intruder show that he sympathizes with them? Or is he just afraid to refuse the ‘honour’?

* Did the lectern looter make it with his booty to his own place?

* CNN howls that this is a ‘coup attempt’.

To me, it seems to be more like what they call in the sports world a ‘pitch invasion’, even if some people in the crowd may have planned it. There is no way this could possibly end in a coup.

* I catch myself thinking that many participants would not have managed even to find the Capitol, so to speak, were it not that they could follow others. But their anger is such that it makes me feel that the real culprit here is not so much their mental capacity as the constant stream of misinformation they have been subjected to. Or should we say ’they have chosen to take in’?


* There are echoes with our (Dutch) tragedy in Srebrenica. To what extent were the outnumbered policemen able, and willing, to hold their line? Would we, ourselves, would I have been willing to die for it?

In itself, even if quite a few people who normally roam inside it are far from holy themselves, desecrating their country’s most hallowed building by the intruders was grave, a ‘Capitol offense’.

Compared with Srebrenica, the damage was mainly symbolic. But what if the intruders had been able to get hold of all the people they have learned to hate?

* The woman who was shot reportedly came ’to do God’s work’. If that is not fake news one wonders how she came to know God’s agenda, and why she came to think the Almighty is not able to do His work Himself.

Germany (detail)
‘Let the envious envy, let the hateful hate,
What God gave us, should be left to us’.

* Someone in the crowd waves with a placard, stating ‘PELOSI IS SATAN’.

The ‘Lady Satan’ in question originates in Italy. ‘Pelosi‘ means in Italian ‘hairy ones’. In my own (Dutch) language we have an expression for someone who is highly assertive, mostly used regarding women: ‘She has hair on her teeth’.

* In Dutch too, inspired by recent events, I have come up with an expression myself, tragically destined to be lost in translation.

Literally it is: compote thinking, playing on ‘compote’ and ‘complot’, meaning ‘plot’.

Defined as:

thought process in messy brains, in which facts, half-truths and complete rubbish lead to an inextricable mash, often concluding that a conspiracy threatens the world.

* Is ‘compote thinking’ anything new? No, but the process is now speeded up by the internet and often more or less copy-pasted into other brains by means of Twitter & Co.


* So, many years after ‘The Iron Curtain’, we are now divided by ‘Digital Walls’. Entrenched. But, other than The Curtain, The Walls exist within countries, even within families. Forever?

* Finally, at the very end of his term, the American President came up with words that no one can dispute. He described those who stormed the Capitol as ‘very special‘.

As special as the President himself.


© Joost Overhoff