As the devil’s advocate, it’s my job to search for controversy. On January 6th, 2021 in Washington, D.C., I certainly found it. What started as an innocent documentary project quickly turned into the biggest story in the world, one that will shape history and the future of our republic, if it stands.
After a seven hour drive to Capitol Hill, I got some footage at the Lincoln Memorial and checked in to a snug AirBnB where I met a few others who were in town to witness the same event: the Save America March and Rally hosted by President Donald J. Trump. One of the guys, an older Filipino gentleman, will turn out to be significant later in our tale. So remember him.
By 8AM the following frigid morning, I was already at the Washington Monument, filming the scores of dedicated Trump fans who had come from across the land to support “Stop The Steal,” the president’s claim that the election was fraudulent against him. Although I saw a variety of international folks, including Chinese anti-CCP activists, there were also plenty of stereotypes on full display… You know, the good ol’ boys who love their guns, value liberty over anything and really don’t want you to tread on them. After dealing with a very dystopian 2020, I can’t say I blame ’em, even if they sometimes use naughty words in their signs.
By around 11AM, I had already shot some great video and, noticing an obvious absence of porta pottys, I decided to return to the apartment to upload some footage and take care of other bodily businesses. That’s when I heard Trump’s speech blaring from the other room. I thought it was pretty decent. But, then again, I am not completely cynical about everything he says. He did a solid job arguing his case, a case that democrats say is treasonous, republicans are divided on and Trump loyalists swear is sacrosanct. To believe Trump’s case of election fraud, you also have to believe that there is a conspiracy against him. To believe the media’s narrative, you have to believe that all the evidence Trump and his lawyers have presented is decidedly fraudulent and not worthy of scrutiny. To believe the biggest conspiracy theories, you have to believe either that this is all a big show to enslave us in a New World Order or to liberate us from an evil cabal that has ruled the world for centuries… with Trump as the hero of that story.
Whatever you believe, I know you believe it fully and, barring some colossal crisis, without much flexibility. As it turns out, that crisis started only minutes after Trump finished his speech, a speech that would be blamed for incitement of violence as his supporters surrounded the Capitol Building and many broke in as a rebellion against a congress that they see as wholly corrupt and enabling the “steal.” This is where my Filipino friend comes in because he was there, outside, among peaceful protestors of all ages, taking in the commotion but painting it in a different light than what I’ve heard in the media. As you will see in his footage, there was indeed a group of activists trying to enter the building while most others stood by, watching the excitement. Sadly, some people took it too far and that excitement turned deadly, as an Air Force veteran was shot by police inside the building and police later became victims themselves. Five deaths have been reported from that chaotic day. There is no way to sugarcoat that.
I was not on the Capitol grounds for any of this but once I heard there was a citywide curfew starting at six, I knew I had a limited window to get a glimpse of this breaking news. I sped over to nearby the Capitol and conducted interviews in an Instagram livestream with as many witnesses as I could find. We only knew of one death at the time and some of the people I spoke with had been tear gassed by the cops to disperse the crowd. As I got little nuggets of information, some right and some wrong, I left with my own perspective which never completely aligned with the news reports. All I can tell you is what I saw and heard. What I saw was patriotic Americans distraught by the thought that their votes don’t matter and the political system is broken. What I heard is that a few rebels–AntiFa infiltrators, agent provocateurs and some out-of-line so-called patriots– did stir things up and paved the way for trespassing and violence, sometimes enabled by the police. Others considered the intrusion their sacred duty and said a prayer in the senate before leaving. The president condemned all violence and called for peace. And, yet, the story I’ve heard non-stop on the news is that POTUS is a traitor commanding his insurrectionist army to intimidate congress into a tyrannical victory, justifying unprecedented censorship against him–he has lost his Twitter and all Big Tech accounts–plus many loud voices that support him and the internet platforms they use. Funny how one event can trigger so much so quickly, don’tcha think? Almost as if it was planned…
Before the day was over, it seemed I had to justify my mere existence in the District of Columbia. The media had portrayed anybody with any connection to these events as terrorists. I wasn’t even there and suddenly fools on my social media were accusing me of being a bad, bad person. It’s shocking to me that some people willingly submit themselves to overpaid news bloviators with an obvious agenda while attacking me for providing a public news service on my own dime. I forgive you, fools, for you know not what you do.
As I broke curfew and the police gently reminded me to get the heck off the premises, I left Capitol Hill and tried to put all the pieces together. After wrapping up my news report the following morning and paying a quick visit to the Kennedy Center and the Watergate Hotel, I had plenty to contemplate on my long exodus from the swamp.
As the devil’s advocate, I try to see things from every angle and challenge your beliefs… and even my own. If you really want to know what I believe, you can peruse my blog where you will see my inconsistent and ever-evolving postulations. My job, however, is not to tell you what to think. Nobody likes that. But at least I can share my story and it may somehow shape how you think.
If you want to know what principles I believe in, it’s pretty simple: be skeptical but not cynical, stay open but cautious, be wary of powerful interests that tell you what to think and, most important, try to love your enemy and you might even become friends.
I know those aren’t the words people want to hear right now. The stakes are very high. But the alternative is believing that either all democrat voters are evil or all 75+ million people who voted for the president are terrorists and that a civil war is inevitable. So, for good measure, may I also suggest that we all take a deep breath and a collective chill pill?
Knowing what I know, I have full faith that our nation will not only stand but will be better than ever, once we survive this storm. Get your popcorn because a lot of crazy stuff is yet to happen but I fully believe there is a goodly plan to restore the republic to a new golden age.
First, we have to get through January.
Until my next post, take care, God bless and enjoy the show!
Matthew August Leddy
P.S. Whether you’re on the right or the left or somewhere in the middle, you’re still allowed to laugh! 😉