There are many valid reactions to last week's attack on the Capitol building by supporters of Donald Trump as Congress met to ratify the election of Joe Biden as next US President, but surprise surely isn't one of them.
Anyone who hasn't noticed that "loser's consent" is a thing of the past these days can't have been paying attention. Someone or something, shadowy and sinister behind the scenes, is always deemed to be at fault when democratic votes go against your most cherished desires. This is what fuels the ongoing culture war between two sides loosely described as conservatives and progressives - and it's a conflict which has been gleefully stoked by many of the very people who are suddenly clutching pearls and pretending to be horrified at mob disorder.
"Insurrection In America" screamed the anguished news headlines that evening. In truth, the motto of many journalists in TV studios around the world could have been lifted straight from a McDonald's ad: "I'm lovin' it".
It's certainly hard to take lectures on law and order from those who were happy to make excuses recently for crowds terrorising people in shopping centres in Co Dublin while protesting against An Garda Síochána, or who support parties here in Ireland whose leaders declare that they may have considered a career in terrorism if their life had gone a bit differently.
In living memory, the IRA attempted to murder the entire British Cabinet. It's only 10 years since a group made up mainly of Sinn Féin supporters tried to break into Government Buildings in Dublin, and beat ministers' cars with placards as they were being driven away. Only the gardaí prevented matters getting out of hand.
If there was a Dáil election tomorrow, Sinn Féin would still most likely top the poll again. So much for this abhorrence for politically motivated violence which so many in Ireland all belatedly claimed last week to have discovered.
It was the same in America last summer when cities burned as Black Lives Matter protests gripped the country. People were killed, police attacked, businesses destroyed. Soon the trouble spread across the world. Some mobs are clearly more equal than others.
What happened last week was deplorable, and it had predictably tragic consequences, both for troublemakers who lost their lives, and for the police officer who has now died after allegedly being struck on the head by protesters. When you bring people on to the streets, you cannot sidestep responsibility for what ensues. Donald Trump must shoulder a considerable share of it.
But it would be irresponsible to exaggerate the significance of those ugly events too.
A few hundred protesters out of hundreds of thousands who'd gathered earlier to hear Trump speak, later marched on the Capitol building, and, because of an inexcusable security lapse, were allowed to get inside, where they caused a brief period of mayhem. The location, as the seat of US democracy, couldn't have been more symbolic. But to describe this as an attempted "coup" is absurd.
Even if they had managed to occupy the building for longer than a few hours, what were the rabble going to do? They had no chains of command, no larger forces to muster, no way to enforce their edicts. They didn't even have a plan. All they did was delay the certification of Biden's victory by a couple of hours. Their glorious leader will be gone within days.
This isn't what coups look like.
Had Trump won November's election, it's equally likely that there would have been similar scenes of disorder on the part of his enemies, possibly based on matching conspiracy theories that the election had been stolen, as there were in 2016. America is a violent and divided country with a population armed to the teeth. The fractures in society frequently spill out in blood. The only hope is that our increasingly toxic and ill-tempered political divisions don't end the same way, though the omens worldwide don't look good.
One of the things that allowed opponents in the past to accept defeat was that they felt they shared a common national identity. That's been totally lost in recent times. Disparate groups have no social bond around which they can coalesce. They belong to separate tribes, with competing interests.
That loss of fellowship makes hypocrites of everyone. Conservatives who condemned Black Lives Matter protests in the summer are now urging others to "understand" the motivation of Trump supporters who rioted in Washington.
There wasn't much understanding from them when those on the Left were asking for some of it.
Moral consistency is just another value that's been lost, which is why the shutting down of Trump's own Twitter account on Friday, and the related clampdown on those who still support him, was eagerly applauded by many who claim to stand for tolerant, liberal values, with no consideration for the danger in allowing billionaires who run tech companies to decide what the rest of us can say and see.
Few of those actively engaged in politics right now can honestly claim to act on principle. What they've done instead is take sides, and their normal human responses to every event are now warped by whether it benefits their side or their opponents'. That toxicity is only going to get worse.
It certainly won't be healed by meaningless soundbites about "coming together". Coming together around what? A belief that, deep down, everything will be fine?
Because maybe things won't be fine. Maybe we are, not to put too fine a point on it, screwed. Nothing lasts for ever, though we live our lives as if it will. It could be that we are witnessing the dying embers of a post-war consensus, and that the 21st century will belong to other powers, such as China, or even be dominated by younger and different sorts of empires, such as social media and tech companies.
A suspicion of what those new giants straddling the world are capable of, if their power is left unchecked, is partly what fuelled the rise of Trump, and it won't go away just because he is no longer president. The appeal of populism - the not unreasonable belief that the elites who run the world do not have the interests of the little people at heart - remains undiluted. Trump may not be in a position to carry the torch forward, but someone will, and that person will be equally hated in turn by those whose interests are threatened by a change in the status quo.
More than 74 million people voted for Trump because he articulated some of those discontents, including Brian D Sicknick, the police officer who was tragically killed after being attacked at the Capitol. They can't all be dismissed as white supremacists and fascists, though, ominously, the Biden era appears to be beginning with the media and political establishment attempting, again, to do just that.
There's no great rectitude in deploring the divisions coursing through public discourse whilst merrily stoking them. As the poet Edward Thomas, who died in World War I, wrote about that conflict: "This is no case of petty right or wrong." He didn't hate ordinary Germans, and was content to let future historians and philosophers "rake out the ashes".
All he knew is that there was a war on, and what he cherished was under attack, so "as we love ourselves, we hate our foe".
The fear of what might be lost by giving up the fight is what fuels the ongoing culture war too. Neither side has a monopoly on either virtue or truth.