Had they been black men and women protesting the treatment of black lives, so many of them would be dead.
Had they been railing against Tuesday’s announcement that no police officer would be charged over yet another fatal shooting, this time Jacob Blake – shot several times in the back as he got into a car where his three children were sitting – they’d have sent in the National Guard.
The reaction would have been brutal. Ugly. Horrific. We’ve seen it too many times to uphold any lie surrounding it.
Remember the anger and opprobrium Donald Trump tried to heap on those exercising their right to march over the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor? This time he was twiddling his thumbs on Twitter as Capitol Hill and American democracy went up in metaphorical flames.
Would a black protester have been able to smile for the cameras carrying a podium as he strolled around the building? No.
Would black protesters have been able to round on an officer inside a federal building as they did in horrifying footage before colleagues came to his rescue? No.
Would they have waited hours before moving in riot police – with senators barricaded inside the Capitol building – had the demographics been different? No chance.
One of the most striking aspects of the chaos was that while Trump and so many Republicans tried to claim that “this is not who we are”, the lack of action and the entitlement showed it is exactly what America has melted into.
They were scenes that showed us so much about the injustice, the power and the privilege of which the country reeks at the moment.
Worryingly, you fear this is not quite the end of the Trump reign which once again exposed the grotesque truths that periodically are brought to the boil in America.
The concern is that it is more like the start of a new, awful age of empowerment for the white supremacists into whom Trump has breathed new life.
Even when he finally gave in to the demand to get off Twitter and issue a call for his supporters to stand down and disperse, he reiterated his false claim that the election he’d lost fairly and squarely had been stolen from him.
This is an insurrection weeks, months, years in the making.
Trump has fermented it. Many of his mates and backers when he looked as though he’d retain power will cry crocodile tears now and try to distance themselves from it.
They are talking now about invoking the 25th amendment and removing him from office for his final two weeks.
Too late. The horse is disappearing over the hill.