On Jan. 6, 2021, a protestor, 40-year-old Brady Knowlton, says that an officer at the Capitol told “You can go in, as long as you don’t break anything.” At 2:35 p.m., Knowlton did, entering through the Upper West Terrace doors. He looked around inside the building, walked through the Rotunda, lobby, and Senate chamber gallery, obeyed the officer’s injunction not to break anything, and left the building at 2:53 p.m. For that, Knowlton now faces twenty years in prison in Old Joe Biden’s vengeful banana republic.
On top of the possibility of being behind bars until 2042, Knowlton, a law student, has suffered numerous other consequences already. According to the Daily Wire, “his law degree has been withheld, his lawyers say, Airbnb has banned him and his wife, and, for reasons that remain undisclosed, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has stripped his Global Entry access.”
According to the charges filed against him in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Knowlton “did unlawfully and knowingly enter and remain in a restricted building and grounds.” He also “did knowingly, and with intent to impede and disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business and official functions, engage in disorderly and disruptive conduct in and within such proximity to, a restricted building and grounds, that is, any posted, cordoned-off, and otherwise restricted area within the United States Capitol and its grounds, where the Vice President and Vice President-elect were temporarily visiting.” He “willfully and knowingly engaged in disorderly and disruptive conduct within the United States Capitol Grounds. He “willfully and knowingly entered and remained in the gallery of either House of Congress, without authorization to do so.”
If Knowlton’s contention that a police officer said he could go in is true, it vitiates all these charges, and Knowlton’s claim is certainly corroborated by photographic and video evidence of cops at the Capitol opening gates, holding the doors open for protestors, and reports that police even posed for selfies with protestors. Also, when the FBI raided Knowlton’s home, they found no evidence whatsoever “concerning the breach and unlawful entry” of the Capitol, or “of any conspiracy, planning, or preparation,” or “maps or diagrams” of the Capitol, or of any “materials, devices, or tools” that Knowlton might have planned to use to get inside.
So why is the government pursuing Knowlton with such ferocity? The answer to that is clear: he is being set up to be a fall guy, to validate the Left’s hysterical and counterfactual claims about Jan. 6 by being made to play the role of the “insurrectionist” who was determined to destroy “our democracy” and install Trump as a dictator.
Imagine a country that imprisons peaceful protestors on false charges of participating in an attempt to overthrow the government, as part of efforts to discredit and ultimately criminalize all opposition to the ruling party’s agenda. People who entered a public building when police held the door open for them are being held in solitary confinement and given draconian punishments far out of proportion to what they actually did. This is the sort of thing that happens in Third World countries, right? This is the sort of thing tinpot dictators do in banana republics, where the rulers gained power by underhanded means and have no respect for due process, the rule of law, or the rights of their citizens — right? Maybe so, but the cases of Knowlton and other Jan. 6 protestors show that all this and worse is happening right now in the land of the free and the home of the brave, where up until quite recently, it all would have been unthinkable.
Compare the treatment of Knowlton and the other Jan. 6 scapegoats to the treatment of Quintez Brown, the Black Lives Matter activist who recently shot at Louisville mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg. Journalist Miranda Devine noted that Brown was “portrayed sympathetically by the media and immediately bailed out of jail by his Black Lives Matter comrades, who crowdfunded the $100,000 cost.” Devine added that Brown was “a celebrated gun control advocate, anointed as a rising star by the Obama Foundation, he was an honored guest on Joy Reid’s MSNBC show. He was granted a biweekly opinion column in the Louisville Courier-Journal to spew boilerplate leftist, race-based, anti-cop sentiment.” Brown had, Devine says, “BLM privilege.” Indeed.
In America, we no longer have a single justice system for all people, regardless of race, or of power, or privilege, or the protected victimhood status they may have among the Leftist intelligentsia. We no longer have a justice system that is indifferent to and independent of political pressure. The politically and culturally dominant Left is not content with the massive power and influence it wields now; it is determined to silence all opposition and destroy it utterly.
We have seen the totalitarian impulse of the far-Left play out in revolutionary France, as well as in the Soviet Union, Communist China, Democratic Kampuchea, Fidel Castro’s Cuba, and a host of other places. In every one, the judiciary serves as a tool of the political elites, who wield it in order to prosecute, persecute, and obliterate their opposition. American schools used to teach that our system had a series of built-in checks and balances that would prevent that kind of tyranny from developing.
But now the schools focus on teaching that the Founding Fathers were evil slaveowners and the system they created is just another vehicle of white privilege to be dismantled. By the time the fanatics they have indoctrinated get around to dismantling that system altogether, doing so will be just a formality. The Left has long since hollowed it out and rendered its safeguards meaningless. The persecution of Brady Knowlton and the other Jan. 6 defendants proves that.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.