You know that guy playing ninja during Comrade Trump’s RiotFest? The one in the photo, hanging from the balcony of the Senate Chamber, that guy? His name is Josiah Colt (and by the way, that’s a great name for a fictional character, isn’t it?). He’s 34 years old, from Boise, Idaho (also by the way, the ‘s’ in Boise is pronounced like…well, an ‘s’ not a ‘z’; you call it Boyzee folks will know you’re from out of town — just so you know).
Our boy Josiah left Idaho and went all the way to DC, nearly 2400 miles, to support Comrade Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election. He wants you to know he’s sorry. In an interview with CBS news, he said,
“I love America, I love the people, I didn’t hurt anyone and I didn’t cause any damage in the Chamber. I got caught up in the moment.”
I get that. I really do. I’ve experienced that. I’ve been caught up in the moment and done stuff that I regret, stuff I knew was wrong, stuff I’d never do ordinarily. I suspect many of us have had similar moments. We found ourselves caught up in the moment, and afterwards wondered, “What the HELL was I thinking?” We got caught up in the moment at an auction and bid too much money on something we didn’t really want. Or we got caught up in the moment and got a tattoo. On our ass. That says ‘Mom’. Or we got caught up in the moment and agreed to volunteer to knock on doors for a cause. Or we had sex with somebody wildly inappropriate. Or we came home from the market with a tin of sardines in mustard sauce.
Being in the moment is a good thing. Getting caught up in the moment is a risk; it can be good or it can be an utter fucking disaster. Hell, sometimes getting caught up in the moment is absolutely glorious even as it’s turning into an utter fucking disaster. I’m pretty sure our boy Josiah was having a great time being ‘Josiah Colt, American Ninja’ starring in the action movie Capitol Building Takedown. I’d be willing to bet my modest income that a LOT of the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol Building were like Josiah, folks who just got caught up in the moment.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m also confident that many of the insurrectionists knew exactly what they were doing, knew exactly how criminal it was, and were genuinely trying to destroy the government. Those people were just using the Josiah Colts as unthinking camouflage and cannon fodder. Which, let’s face it, is what they were.
Josiah also said this:
“I sincerely apologize to the American people. I recognize my actions that have brought shame upon myself, my family, my friends, and my beautiful country. In the moment I thought I was doing the right thing. I realize now that my actions were inappropriate and I beg for forgiveness from America and my home state of Idaho.”
I believe him. Well, I believe he actively regrets what he did. I appreciate his apology, though I question its sincerity. Maybe at some point in the future, I’d be willing to forgive him and his fellow ‘in the moment’ insurrectionists. But not now. It’s too soon. It’s not too soon for me to forgive him; it’s too soon for him to apologize sincerely. He hasn’t had enough time to truly consider what he and his fellow insurrectionists have done.
The problem with — wait. This is going to seem like a tangent (yes I’ve a history of wandering off on tangents, so I don’t blame you for being suspicious), but it’s not. Okay, I want you to think for a moment about the Japanese tea ceremony, cha no yu. You’ve probably seen it in movies and there’s a fairly good chance you thought it was lovely but relatively ridiculous. I mean, it’s a lot of time and effort just to sip a cup of tea. But here’s the thing: all that effort, all the meticulous preparation, the cleaning of the path to the tea room, the washing of the implements and the teapot, the arrangement of the flowers, the slow process of making the tea, the ritual of how to handle the cup — all of those things are done for a very simple reason: to create a quiet, meditative state of mind which allows the host and the visitor to be in the moment — that one particular moment — when the tea is sipped. There is a singular, beautiful purity in that moment.
Josiah and his fellow insurrectionists went through a somewhat similar process, although it’s the polar opposite. There were a LOT of steps involved in getting them to DC, all of which contributed to creating the proper frame of mind to try to overturn the election. Every step along the way fed their purpose — the constant barrage of presidential tweets, the echoing claims of fraud, the commitment involved in traveling to DC, the speeches given that morning, the chanting at the rally, the excitement of the crowd, the thrill of feeling powerful, the violence. All of those steps helped create and nourish the frame of mind needed to experience that one particular moment when the mob breached the Capitol. There’s a singular, awful purity in that moment.
Of course people got caught up in it. It took time and a lot of emotional spade-work to achieve that moment. It’ll take an equal amount of time and spade-work for Josiah Colt to truly comprehend what he did in that moment, the gravity of his offense. Unless he’s able to do that, his apology won’t truly be sincere. Until his apology is actually sincere, there won’t be any forgiveness. Not from me.
The same goes for everybody involved in the insurrection, from the most insignificant and lowly flag-waver to the elected representatives in Congress. They all willingly took that path. They have to willingly retrace their steps if they expect any sort of absolution.