One Florida county sent an outsized number of rioters to the Capitol on Jan. 6. Racism is the reason



Federal authorities have accused seven Space Coast locals of taking part in the historic attack on the U.S. Capitol, giving Brevard County the dubious distinction of having the sixth-highest number of people arrested in the riot investigation in the country, according to a George Washington University analysis. (The top five counties represent major urban areas: Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and Seattle.)

Wow, little Brevard County is hanging with the big boys. Now there’s a Hoosiers-like pluck that’s surely the talk of Klan bake sales everywhere.

Among those arrested were a high school teacher who coached the football team; a pastor at a local church; his son, the church’s vice president; a parishioner at the church; and an Army veteran who belonged to the far-right militia the Oath Keepers.

In other words, criminals. Why do media outlets always seem so surprised when violent right-wing lawbreakers have normal jobs? 

Nationwide, Florida remains the top state for Jan. 6 arrests (76 Sunshine Staters have been charged so far), yet Brevard County stands out among the others. The reason is most likely—don’t be too shocked now—racism.

Perhaps the most compelling study on the subject was published by Robert Pape at the University of Chicago, who found that Capitol insurgents were more likely to come from counties where the white population was getting smaller. “For every one-point drop in a county’s percentage of non-Hispanic whites from 2015 to 2019, the likelihood of an insurgent hailing from that county increased by 25 percent,” The Atlantic reported, citing his research.

According to The Atlantic story cited above, Pape and his researchers ran a few statistical analyses to help predict which regions were most likely to produce an insurrectionist, but most of the explanations they floated failed to pan out. Counties Trump won were actually less likely to breed an insurrectionist, and rural counties were also underrepresented. There also was no correlation between falling incomes and the number of MAGA coup participants a county produced. But in counties where white people were losing demographic ground, they apparently freaked.

The Atlantic:

Trump and some of his most vocal allies, Tucker Carlson of Fox News notably among them, had taught supporters to fear that Black and brown people were coming to replace them. According to the latest census projections, white Americans will become a minority, nationally, in 2045. The insurgents could see their majority status slipping before their eyes.

To paraphrase a popular meme, why would white people worry about becoming a minority in this country? Are minorities treated badly here or something?

When it comes to the brutality and overwrought rhetoric coming from Republicans these days—if you’re concerned, as I am, that they’ve lost their sense and show few signs of pulling back from the brink—this HuffPost story is unlikely to soothe your frazzled nerves. Non-MAGAs living in Brevard County apparently have good reason to fear for their safety, especially if they’re members of a school board. And while there’s no easy solution for dealing with a white population that can’t abide losing power and influence, at least we appear to have diagnosed the problem: It’s racism, stupid. But it’s not just the Confederate-flag-waving, n-word-dropping variety that just about everyone in civil society condemns—at least in public. As a white person raised almost exclusively among other white people, I know how these folks think—and I can pretty much guarantee they’re not thinking rationally right now, whether their racism is overt or more “under the radar.”

So we have some solid answers now. Why are so many people freaked out about immigration in a country that faces a long-term labor shortage? Racism. Why do people so easily accept that election fraud occurred in heavily Black areas such as Wayne County, Michigan; Fulton County, Georgia; and Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania? Racism. Why did a bigoted, bloviating incompetent receive 74 million votes for president, and why were people willing to give up their own safety and freedom to keep that guy in power? Racism. They think they’re being “replaced,” and after a lifetime of privilege, it’s just not fair. 

The question is, will this moment in history represent the racist dead-ender’s last stand, or will our democracy ultimately be sacrificed at the altar of white supremacy? Sadly, we still don’t know.

But we better roll up our sleeves and fight for the outcome we need, and future generations deserve.


It made comedian Sarah Silverman say, “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT,” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

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