January 6th was not an “insurrection”

Ashley Herzog
6 min readJan 5, 2022
On the left: Palmerfest 2009 at Ohio University; on the right: the riot at the Capitol on January 6th.

January 6th was not an “insurrection.” Nor was it a “coup” — or, if you prefer a more positive spin, an “uprising” led by Trump supporters. January 6th was a tantrum.

Just because it was a mass tantrum on the part of a mob doesn’t make it any less so. Anyone who thinks January 6 was an “insurrection” — a serious attempt to seize power — is unfamiliar with the phenomenon of mobs of privileged people throwing mass tantrums because someone told them “no,” or because they found out the law applies to them. If you’ve never witnessed this behavior, maybe you haven’t spent much time around the entitled class. These people never expect to be on the losing side of anything, and when they are, they lash out.

Unlike groups attempting a real coup, mass tantrum-throwers often have no goals in mind. They know they have no real grievances to rally around. Creating chaos is the goal. Like insolent children, they assert their power by slinging shit around and making other people clean it up. The fact that someone — whether it’s the Capitol janitors or a gutless, exhausted parent — will be forced to take care of their messes, and shoulder the consequences, is part of the fun.

Collegiate tantrums are a great example of this, and I’ve witnessed several of them. I was a student at Ohio University between 2004 and 2009. OU is known for its picturesque, hilly campus and stately brick dormitories crawling with ivy. While it wasn’t the case for everyone, these students were mostly children of privilege. My school was known for its party-hearty atmosphere and its various “fests.” Palmerfest 2009 at OU was a particular shitshow.

Like a lot of college “fests,” there was underage drinking, but that wasn’t the problem. By nightfall, after eight solid hours of imbibing, fights would break out and people started getting injured. At that point, the local police from the town of Athens arrived to get the crowd under control — which the drunken 20-year-olds didn’t like one bit. There was definitely a “who do you think you are” mentality among the students toward police, and a clash followed.

Like the Capitol riot, it started with bratty, obnoxious antics, like name-calling and impotent threats. Students made a show of dashing across the street, as if it were all a big game of Red Rover…

Ashley Herzog

New account. I’m still a professional journalist, novelist, and radio host. And Catherine’s mom.