When I was in high school I was in speech. My specialty was foreign extemporaneous speaking. I’m not sure why, whether because it was more of a challenge, or because I could learn more about other countries. But that was my niche back when I had a niche. Back then the big stories were about the Cold War, terror brewing in Iran, Russia getting their taste of Vietnam in Afghanistan.
So I bring this up because I did my usual search of Google Trends to see what people would maybe want to read about, and fully expected January 6 to show up. Instead, I look and see Kazakhstan. I watched CNN this morning, and they said nothing about Kazakhstan….so off to research I go.
According to ABC News, “dozens of protesters,” and twelve police died in a Kazakhstani demonstration against high fuel prices. One police officer was even found beside his own severed head. To my knowledge no names have been released.
The crowd broke into the presidential palace and into the mayor’s office. The state response to this was subtly different from the American response to our January 6 riots. Police spokeswoman Saltanat Azirbek informed state channel Khabar-24 that “dozens of attackers were liquidated.” The official casualty count of the police stands at twelve officers killed and three hundred fifty three injured.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has requested troops from the Collective Security Treaty Organization to help keep the peace. Kazakhstan signed this treaty after the fall of the old Soviet Union. Member nations include Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. He has also imposed a two week state of emergency, including an overnight curfew and a ban on religious services. This hits the sizable Orthodox population very hard, as they will be celebrating Christmas on the seventh.
So those are the basic facts, according to ABC News, though I think my commentary is much more salient:
How do the Two Insurrections Compare?
I believe there are three important factors we need to discuss to compare the two insurrections: 1) who was involved in the two conflicts, 2) why the protests happened, and 3) the casualties of the riots.
So on the first topic……
On our January sixth of 2021, protesters believing that election fraud had illegally set Biden in the office when they felt Trump should have won massed at Washington DC. Trump told them they needed to “fight like hell” or they would “lose their country.” Allegations have been made from the left were that Proud Boys and White Supremacists led the movement. Allegations from the right said that Antifa and BLM came in and staged a riot. Trump said later this summer that “there was a lot of love in that crowd.” I wasn’t there, but I know Wikipedia states on page one of their article about the event “the large majority of people charged with crimes relating to the attack had no known affiliation with far-right or extremist groups.”
Likely it is too soon to get a report on the demographics of the Kazakhstani riot, but
One website states that 2000 people were arrested in the city of Almaty:
According to NPR, 725 people have been arrested for the January 6 Washington DC riots:https://www.npr.org/2022/01/06/1070736018/jan-6-anniversary-investigation-cases-defendants-justice
All I can really say about the Kazakhstani riots is, likely more people involved, and likely more of the poor and oppressed are involved, as a trip to Washington DC to protest is pretty expensive. But then, if you can afford the top rate makeup of a QAnon Shaman, you can likely afford the bus ticket.
Why did people riot?
In the USA, people rioted because they believed the election had been stolen. These peope believed Trump, and believed in him. In Khazakstan, the reason given by the news are the near doubling of the prices of gas, and the anger over the supposedly rigged elections placing Kayev in power.
Last of all, the casualties are totally different. On our January 6 there were five deaths, one hundred thirty eight police officers injured, and at least four police officers have since committed suicide. In Kazakhstan the casualties have been eighteen dead and seven hundred forty eight officers wounded.
So, two nations. Two riots. One instigated by a President, on denounced by a President. One run by clowns in makeup, one run by nobody in particular, but involving the true “man on the street.” One being thoroughly investigated by commissions, one bringing down the wrath of a superpower.
My question to you: 1) is violence ever justified, and if so, when? 2) Would civil disobedience have been better reactions to either of these situations? Lastly, 3) why are we calling what happened in Kazakhstan a “protest” and what happened here a “riot?.” Perhaps there is a good reason, but it seems to me that violent protest that leads to bloodshed is a riot, even if I agree with the people doing the protesting.
What do you think? Is there a right and wrong in either of these situations? Who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys? Please comment and let me know what you think, let’s get a discussion going about justified and unjustified protests.