An Insurrection at the Irish Pub

“Few know it, but the Devil rewards insurrection. After all, rebellion is the original sin, and he did conceive it.” Tanya Thompson (Author of Assuming Names)

On the morning of January 6th, after the careful application of my standard risk calculus of contracting COVID, I decided to chance a bit of public space-time with friends at Cryan’s Irish Tavern in Annandale, New Jersey. I was looking forward to this early afternoon communion because it would be bringing together myself, David McBride, and Henry Bonnell–three like-minded souls that shared a common interest in colonial history and the American Revolution. Of particular interest to both David and I were Hank’s stories about his family’s nearby property, which had operated as a coach stop and tavern during the War of Independence.

In regards to the Patriots’ cause, the Bonnell Tavern, established in 1767 by Lt. Colonel Abraham Bonnell, was a hotbed of political and military activity. The area’s first contingent of “minutemen” was organized there, and the tavern also served as headquarters for the 2nd Hunterdon County Militia Regiment. But as we spent our luncheon engaged in romanticizing rebellion and revolution over pizza and pints, 200 miles south of us, thousands of so-called patriotic citizens were carrying out their perverse homespun version of Lexington and Concord on the steps of the Capitol.

It wasn’t until several patrons requested a channel change from sports to news that we all became aware of the horrific national tragedy unfolding in Washington D.C. And in keeping with our “house divided” model of getting along, there was a spirited call to turn off CNN in favor of Fox–proving once more that it’s not the feed but the filter that determines our view of reality. Or, as the late Marshall McLuhan often stated, “The medium is the message.” But unfortunately, if we continue to rely on the partisan echo chambers as our sole source for news and information, we will unwittingly accept lies as truth. And sadly, more politicians have risen to power on lies than on the truth!

So what we are to make of the chaos and violence visited upon our nation’s capital on that terrible afternoon? Nearly two weeks later, and I am still struggling to construct a proper postmortem. But first, we should consider what we know to be true. There are 74 million Americans that voted for Donald Trump. The majority of them probably voted for all the regular reasons–party loyalty, single issues, economic self-interests, dislike of the Democrats and their policies, and finally, that chemistry that attracts them to a particular candidate. But it now appears that over 70% of Trump voters believe that the election was invalid and that somehow it is not possible that 81 million people voted for Joe Biden–but the mathematical data suggests otherwise.

A recent breakdown of the electorate’s political leanings by the Gallup organization gives credence to the election results. In October of 2020, polling showed that 31% of American’s identified themselves as Democrats, 31% identified themselves as Republicans, and 36% identified themselves as independents. But further polling found a 4-5% advantage toward Democrats over Republicans once independents cast their vote. And when you factor in those Trump-leery Republicans that threw their support to Biden–the math becomes indisputable.

But what can be said about people that scream their intent to take back the country while parading Gadsden and Confederate flags through the halls of Congress? First off, the anti government right-wing extremists have been spoiling for armed conflict long before Donald Trump came into power. But with an administration that provided office space for white nationalists in the West Wing actually on the verge of vacating the premises, the time to act may have seemed to be now before those discount rates for insurrectionists at Trump’s D.C. hotel expire. By the way, those rates will not be honored after January 20th. But before I let my sarcastic tendencies overtake this post entirely, I’d like to seriously deal with the behaviors of some of my white brothers and sisters.

Historically, whenever white America seemed threatened by a period of black success or an influx of immigrants, some of whose religious beliefs conflicted with those of your average Anglo-Saxon Protestant, there have been those ready to employ violence and terrorism under the pretense of patriotism. Whether it was in response to Reconstruction or just a matter of Jackie Robinson rounding the bases, these racist malcontents have sought to prosecute a lost cause–a cause that wants to restore their misguided 1776 vision of an America that is solely the domain of white Christian privilege. While they have been very successful at maintaining white privilege–they’ve failed miserably at the Christian ethic part of the vision! Or, as that profound philosopher and rocker Alice Cooper once said,Drinking beer is easy, trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s rebellion!”

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There’s more discussion about the attack on the Capitol on our podcast at Sit Downs and Sessions.

Click here to learn more about the restoration of the Bonnell Tavern in Clinton, New Jersey.

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

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