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Beirut in DC

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

We hear much chatter from the media elite about the media elite’s responsibility to not equivocate, to not try too hard to give equal shrift to both sides when one side is being faster or looser with the truth. We could use a dose of that responsibility now as we’re being assured that the cost of nominating a Supreme Court justice will be a full-on assault on our institutions of government. That if the Left cannot accomplish at the ballot box the results they want, that they will see them through via other means, just as soon as they are done singing imagine together in a near-religious vigil outside the Court.

Inherent in the vigils held for Justice Ginsburg is not just a respect, but a reverence not only for a legal giant but the alternate system of rights she divined from legal texts and championed amidst veers into naked partisanship. Those vigils also presage, and may mark the beginning of, something that has already been called for online. That activists should converge on the capital in advance of the election to create a critical mass of protest and instability. Whichever form this ends up taking, what we can expect this Fall is for our separationist populist movement – defined largely by a rejection of the Bill of Rights and its replacement with a set of materialist, positive rights – to converge on our federal capital. Some are calling it a General Strike, and we can further expect that they’ll embrace the rhetoric of other great movements for change, of the civil rights era or of the two previous de facto alterations of our constitutional order: the New Deal and the Great Society.

However, in the wake of the recent tragedy and sclerosis in Lebanon – a country that deserves and should have better – what we must remember is that the appropriate comparison to what’s coming to our capital is instead Hizballah’s 2006 sit-in in Beirut. Much as the Left has a street arm, Hizballah long operated out of the boundaries of traditional politics, wielding its power in an extra-constitutional fashion through maintaining its arms. In the rollercoaster of events from the assassination of Rafik Hariri to the March 14 protests to the formation of a unity government, Hizballah actually gained not only a place in the opposition but a concession that allowed it to do so while maintaining its weapons under the auspices of being declared, yes, a resistance movement. In the Summer of 2006, Hizballah used that unique and unilateral veto over Lebanon’s democratic politics to plunge their country into war with Israel.

As domestic tensions in the wake of the war escalated that Fall, Lebanon saw widespread protests and even roadblocks set up on the route to Beirut’s airport. Then on December 1, 2006, in opposition to the Siniora government, Hizballah began a sit-in in the capital that according to the Los Angeles Times “paralyzed the city center, laid siege to the prime minister’s office and threatened an escalating campaign of civil disobedience until the U.S.-backed government collapses.” Hizballah described it as a peaceful revolution, and had their own security forces acting in a policing role in the capital. Their goal was clear, to force a new government more to their liking, and create instability until they got it:  “Hezbollah members have threatened to block major highways and seize control of ports and airports if the government doesn’t step down.” As the situation deteriorated across 2007, a general strike was initiated. 

The American Resistance, opposed not to Donald Trump but to our constitutional order and the rules we’ve agreed to live together under, begins soon the next phase of its attempt to alter our politics. It will create facts on the ground here in DC, and make clear it refuses rule by Republican presidencies, the will of the people be damned. Any electoral or institutional processes that do not result in their preferred outcome are declared relics of injustice. They will be ready, at the very least, to begin immediate protests in the absence of anything but a landslide Biden victory and a stalled nomination, and an uprising aimed at our actual federal buildings and federal workers is not out of the question. 

The end goals here are twofold. First, to shape public opinion by projecting strength as an organized populist movement. Second, to dangle a return to normalcy as within reach once their demands are met, such that even in the absence of the true national consensus that they can never achieve they can get people to do what they want: submit. When will we have our capital back, you might ask? When they win. 

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