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Four Hours at the Capitol—the strange spectacle of the US far right at large

This article is over 2 years, 1 months old
New footage reveals some of what went on when Donald Trump supporters stormed the US capitol. It’s a glimpse into the world of the far right, says Richard Donnelly
Issue 2778
Four Hours at the Capitol presents police as a thin blue line between democracy and fascism
Four Hours at the Capitol presents police as a thin blue line between democracy and fascism (Pic: BBC / Amos Pictures / Jamie Roberts)

Four Hours at the Capitol brings astonishing footage from January’s so-called insurrection at the United States Capitol building onto British television screens for the first time.

This hour by hour account stitches together security videos, police shoulder cam footage and far right livestreams. The patchwork of the US far right is illuminated in all its confused eccentricity and nauseating reaction.

Of course, there are the hardened militiamen who arrive in tactical gear and paramilitary uniforms, armed with pepper spray, hog ties, knives and guns. But there’s also the wacked out hippies of the so-called cosmic right—new agers who worship Trump as the “God Emperor”.

Between these are all the varieties of the far right in the US today—Proud Boys, QAnon believers, Maga activists, “Cowboys for Trump” and more.

Video filmed by the rioters inside the Congress captures the euphoria of these little worms. They feel themselves bound together into a great dragon, breathing fire onto the establishment politicians trapped in saferooms beneath the building.

One talks of his quasi-religious crusade to “save the children” from Satanist senators. He savoured the moment he and other armed men swept the building.


It was literally intoxicating. “I looked into my fanny pack and took out seven pre-rolled joints to pass around,” he said.

Farce is never far away, but there are also moments that crystallise the deep contradictions of fascist ideology. One scene shows one of the “insurgents” laying on the floor bleeding after being shot in the face by police.

A cop reminds him that “this is the most sacred building”. The fascist responds with a recognition of the importance of Congress, the Constitution and the Stars and Stripes.

It’s as though he is apologising for bleeding onto the hallowed carpets.

In many ways this documentary is spectacle at its worst. Yes, there is fascinating footage, but there is almost no context.

The story of how it arose as a challenge to the millions-strong Black Lives Matter movement and the huge uprisings against Trump in 2020 is simply ignored. Centrist politicians and the police pose as a thin blue line between democracy and fascism.

But there are insightful moments that make it a worthwhile watch.

Four Hours at the Capitol is available now on BBC iPlayer

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