The Atlantic Daily: On the Capitol Rioters

The insurrectionists acted with impunity in the name of President Donald Trump.

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An illustration of a briefcase with a Trump sticker and a smoke canister
GETTY / THE ATLANTIC

They wore Viking horns and animal pelts and conspiracy-theory paraphernalia; they carried Confederate flags—photographs searing their angry faces into history.

Law enforcement is still unraveling the specifics of who did what during the attack on the U.S. Capitol: Dozens are reportedly facing charges, with more to follow. But, more broadly speaking, what do we know about last week’s insurrectionists?

They weren’t “low class.”

“The belief that only impoverished people engage in political violence—particularly right-wing political violence—is a misconception often cultivated by the very elites who benefit from that violence,” my colleague Adam Serwer writes.

They just thought they could get away with it.

“The rioters were ... imbued with the culture of impunity of the Trump era,” David A. Graham argues. “This is a moment when bad behavior goes unpunished.”

They used clothing to send a message.

“Why, during one of the scariest periods in recent national history, were hinterlander cosplayers parading through the Senate?” asks the reporter Luke Winkie. He spoke with a few experts.

A patient rests in a corridor, waiting for a room at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in California on January 3, 2021.
AFP / GETTY

One question, answered: Why are California’s hospitals so overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases?

Olga Khazan reports on what made the state’s health-care system vulnerable:

Perhaps it should be no surprise that California’s hospitals are full to bursting: the state has one of the highest COVID-19 hospitalization rates in the country, and it has relatively fewer hospital beds than most other states—just 1.8 per 1,000 people, compared with 4.8 in South Dakota, which has the most beds in proportion to its population. California’s relatively few hospital beds are attended by relatively few nurses, compared with other states’ staffing levels. …

The health-care system in California is fraying because the state has tried to run its health system efficiently.

For more on why that is, continue reading.

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved isolation activity:

Enjoy the jolt of a cold shower. Sure, it’s wintertime, but perhaps this dreamy James Parker ode to the practice will persuade you.

Today’s break from the news:

A shift in American family values is fueling estrangement.


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