Scandalous hypocrisy, double standard laid bare
The storming of the US Capitol in Washington on Jan 6 by a group of Donald Trump supporters has been condemned in the United States and globally. US president-elect Joe Biden has called the group "a riotous mob, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists". Similar terms including "extremists, thugs" have been used by other politicians and media outlets to describe them. And a CNN headline read: Americans watched the Capitol riot in "horror" and "disgust".
The FBI said on Tuesday that it has opened 160 case files and US acting attorney Michael Sherwin said 70 cases have already been filed.
Many have been arrested including Richard Barnett, seen sitting in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in videos and photographs, and Jake Angeli (legal name is Jacob Chansley), seen donning a fur hat with horns and US-flag inspired face paint, whose images have become the public faces of the riot.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that the "insurrectionists" should be put on the no-flight list. Some of the rioters have already found themselves on the list at airports.
In response to the riot, Twitter permanently suspended Trump's account, which had more than 88 million followers. It also closed more than 70,000 accounts linked to the right-wing conspiracy theory movement QAnon. Other social media platforms have followed suit, with Apple, Google and Amazon booting Parler out of their platforms after it was accused of spreading violent content. Parler is an alternative social media platform favored by US conservatives.
And on Wednesday, YouTube became the latest online platform to suspend Trump's account for at least a week, citing "the ongoing potential for violence".
After failing to convince Vice-President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, the House of Representatives impeached Trump for a second time on Wednesday, charging him with "incitement of insurrection".
Besides, US lawmakers such as Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, who challenged the 2020 election result, are also in the eye of the post-riot storm, and facing calls to be expelled, censored and disbarreda petition to this effect had already been signed by more than 10,000 lawyers and law students by Tuesday night.
Businesses have also taken a stand. Germany's Deutsche Bank and New York-based Signature Bank said they will either stop lending to Trump's family business or close its accounts. And PGA America announced that its 2022 championship will not be held at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey.
The nationwide crackdown after the riot has been swift and hard, although it has raised the eyebrows of some people like German Chancellor Angela Merkel who called the suspension of Trump's Twitter account "problematic".
The reaction this time by the US and indeed most of the Western media outlets and politicians, has been in stark contrast to the one they displayed after the storming of the Hong Kong Legislative Council on July 1, 2019, by hundreds of rioters who broke the glass doors, tore down a metal wall, spray-painted graffiti on the walls, ransacked cabinets and defaced official portraits with rocks and paint.
While the storming of the legislature building in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was much more violent, not to mention the petro-bomb-throwing and vandalism elsewhere in the city, media outlets such as BBC and CNN refrained from calling the rioters even "mobs", and instead referred to them as "protesters". The New York Times called them a "group of activists" in its report on that day.
While Pelosi described the yearlong protests in Hong Kong often marked by violence "beautiful sight",US lawmakers such as Cruz, Hawley, Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio ecstatically fanned the flames. And instead of condemning the mayhem unleashed by the rioters, they seemed to derive a fiendish pleasure out of the violence and lawlessness, and condemned the Hong Kong SAR authorities for taking legal actions against those responsible.
The storming of the Capitol Hill is condemnable and those responsible should be punished. But the attack on the US parliament has once again laid bare the hypocrisy and double standard of the Western media and politicians.
The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.