A small essay about the attempted insurrection yesterday afternoon at the U.S. capitol by domestic terrorists emboldened by a President who should be impeached for his heinous action against the institutions he swore to protect four years ago.
It was yesterday evening, in the echoes of an attempted coup d’état led by the incendiary demands and conspiracies of a former President, that I began to write this. Few scenes of history can compare, moments that have been cleansed by the time passed. The time that has hollowed the emotional context that has deafened the importance of those vignettes. The breach of the U.S. capitol by the British military in 1814. The detached imagery from 1954 of Puerto Rican nationalists openly firing weapons from Ladies’ Gallery of the House of Representatives’ chamber.
For so long, so very long, our soil has endured the volleys of terrorists, the blitzkriegs of hate, and the bursts of undemocratic governments claiming to be an avenue for the betterment of the world. Our symbolism was enough; the “power of example,” as Anne Applebaum writes in The Atlantic, was enough. Now, one side of the isle resorts to the throws of violence, to the lure of demagoguery and authoritarianism for the sheer false pride of being right, or worse, remaining in power.
On the same day when 3,964 Americans passed away from the ongoing pandemic that has taken the lives of over 361,000 Americans thus far, a woman was killed in an attempt to take back the power of a man who cares less about the loss of her life than the attention he’s receiving for his criminal actions yesterday afternoon.
The portraits captured yesterday afternoon stir the gut. They frighten the soul if you are engaged in the political operations of the American government or care about issues that require your involvement — emotionally and intellectually — in said operation. For those who’d rather remain out of bounds, or at least too far out of sight to be bothered by such trivial matters, perhaps now you see the cost of your absence.
But my anger is not pointed towards you; it is pointed towards those who dawn the same red caps as the insurrectionists did yesterday. They co-sign or at least refuse to condemn the same demented leader as the domestic terrorists who waved the flags of former terrorists and seditionists inside the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol yesterday.
You, the American flag wearing, so-called “patriots,” decided to assault the cathedral of liberty and assault the law enforcement which protects it. You, the so-called “redeemers of freedom,” stood-by and allowed for your President, your leader, to invoke men in strange costumes, decorated with Nazi-symbols, and led by men waving the relic of slavery to invade the building that stood for deliberation, that stood for decency. You, the one’s who voted for him again, despite the moral evidence not to, the legal evidence not to, and the scapegoat of moderation instead of liberalism, you chose to cast your decision in favor of a man who has touted the power-hungry and immoral ideology of his fellow authoritarians in public view. You, along with the media ecosystems and the conspiracy theorists and the ideologues and the power-hungry leaders of the GOP, allowed a violent mob to storm the halls of Congress, declaring that they should decide who becomes the next President. Not the citizens in Philadelphia, not your countrymen in Georgia, not your veterans and active service military officers who are stationed abroad, but them.
House and Senate members were escorted from the legislative chambers, Vice President Mike Pence was stowed away, and note that none of Trump’s loyalists joined you. None of them stood with you; they hid beneath their desks and learned to live with the same fear that our highschool students do now, the same fear that Black and Brown citizens have lived with since the dream was born in 1776.
And don’t act as if you did not notice the stark differences between the displays of force from Capitol police, who took pictures with domestic terrorists before even attempting to restrain them from potentially harming the democratically elected government of the United States of America. The same police body who have drug out disabled protesters, who have overtly used force to oppress the voice of Black Lives Matter protesters this past summer, they couldn’t be bothered to prevent or at least try to protect the men and women they were hired to serve.
There is a logic in realizing one’s limited numbers; there is reason in trying but ultimately refraining from preventing these terrorists from achieving their goal, but there is also blame in befriending them, in coddling them before others arrive. For a few hours, American democracy died on live television, with the world watching in horror.
The Secretary-general of NATO, the British Prime Minister, the Danish prime minister, the Swedish Prime minister, the Israeli defense minister, the President of Chile, and a host of others voiced their dismay and disgust as leaders of democracies should.
But you, those who stood at his rallies or flew his flag along the highway of my own home town, are to blame for what occurred yesterday. In the months to come, I’m sure we’ll devolve the security mishaps. Maybe we’ll discover the biases of those hired, perhaps it was merely a bureaucratic flaw in management, but we will find out. Hopefully, those who stormed into the chambers will be prosecuted. Hopefully, the United States justice system will stand with the same ferocity against domestic terrorism as they did against those who took knees in protest on Pennsylvania Avenue.
After yesterday, the countries who looked to us for hope, for guidance, will be left out in the cold of confusion. Those who saw the seas of change approaching will bear the burdens of repair because those who manifested this carnage will certainly hide their faces or bask in the glow of their ignorance. So much has been dismantled, damaged, and insulted by this President and his administration.
And it was this administration, emboldened by Senators and House members too busy fundraising to pluck themselves from the fantasy blinding them from reality (Ted Cruz R-TX, Josh Hawley R-MO), by feckless cabinet members too stirred by evangelical dogma and political authority to be bothered by the President’s “love” for terrorists, and by the far-right press that will scapegoat or honor these treasonists like heroes that allowed for the swathes of fascism to stand unchallenged in our capitol. You are to blame. You are the ones to spotlight for devaluing democracy and disgracing the lives of those who constructed this flawed gem of governance.
It has been four years, have you had enough yet? Is America great again yet? Is it?