Analysis: Expert assesses motivation behind insurrectionists’ actions

By: - January 20, 2021 4:12 am
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester now identified as Eric Munchel of Nashville entered the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A protester now identified as Eric Munchel of Nashville entered the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation’s capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As Joe Biden takes over as President of the United States Wednesday, one expert provides background analysis on why insurrectionists like Eric Munchel, known as “Zip Tie Guy,”may have been inspired to break into the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.

Munchel, of Nashville, was arrested by the FBI on Jan. 10 and charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. His mother, Lisa Eisenhart, was also arrested in connection with the insurrection.

Robert Evans, a journalist covering far-right extremism, and creator of the podcast “It Could Happen Here,” suggests that Munchel and many of the other insurrectionists may have been inspired by the idea of “The Day of the Rope”. This term comes from “The Turner Diaries”, a notorious piece of white supremacist literature in which a guerrilla white supremacist army defeats the United States government and engages in a genocidal war that eventually wipes out all non-white people on the planet. In the book, “The Day of the Rope” is a series of mass lynchings targeting politicians, journalists, and anybody deemed to be a “race traitor”.

Since its publication, “The Turner Diaries” has gone on to inspire groups like The Order, a white supremacist terror group that got their name directly from the violently racist novel, and carried out a series of armed robberies and murders from 1983-1984. It also influenced Timothy McVeigh, who committed the Oklahoma City bombing, the deadliest domestic terror attack in US history.

Explicit Nazis and white supremacists have been working on improving their messaging to chunks of the far right that are on the verge of being insurgent. . . they have been very successful in getting that propaganda out to the community.

– Robert Evans, journalist and podcaster

While there were white supremacists present at the Capitol insurrection, there is no evidence to suggest that Munchel espoused white supremacist views.

Evans said that while the origins of the term “The Day of the Rope” started in the Neo-nazi community, it has expanded o other parts of the far-right milieu.

“Explicit Nazis and white supremacists have been working on improving their messaging to chunks of the far right that are on the verge of being insurgent but not necessarily people who would identify as being a Nazi and [white supremacists] have been very successful in getting that propaganda out to that community, said Evans.”

Evans points to the two previous rallies in D.C. that occurred in the weeks prior to the insurrection, and describes them as melting pots between the fascist, white supremacist groups on the right and the portion of the right that, while not explicitly white supremacist, still hold insurgent tendencies.

“We’ve seen this desire for insurgency weld these groups together, so I believe this guy was thinking that ‘today might be the day’ where they could drag Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and members of the media out onto the Capitol steps, where other insurrectionist had built a gallows, do a show trial, and kill them,” he said. .

 The desire for violent revolutionary action has been echoed across social media and forums throughout the internet.  Facebook for example has been a hotbed for militia and anti-government activity. The Boogaloo movement, which combines extreme anti-authoritarian views with hopes of a second civil war, found a home on Facebook until a crackdown in the summer purged most Boogaloo related content from the social media giant’s pages. This came in the wake of the arrest of Steven Carrillo, an adherent to the Boogaloo movement, who killed one police officer and wounded several others in a series of drive-by shootings. 

The presence of other far-right groups on Facebook had further implications when a scheme to kidnap Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, was thwarted in October and was found to have been partially planned in a militia’s Facebook group.

In the wake of these bans, social media sites like Parler — now dropped by internet providers and hosts — rose as beacons of free speech for the political right. 

Citing the right-wing extremists who stormed Oregon’s capitol prior to the Washington insurrection, Evans suggests more potential for violence is likely at local state capitals than in Washington.

 

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Matt Bastin
Matt Bastin

Matt Bastin is a freelance journalist from Nashville. His areas of research are human rights, protest coverage, and extremism with a particular emphasis on white nationalism

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