It’s been almost a week since the world witnessed the first time that the United States Capital building was attacked in modern-day history. Watching this siege play out in real time has left me with intense anxiety as to how this could happen and what will happen next. It’s been interesting to see where the blame has fallen when there are multiple parties who should be held responsible. I’m not sure how we move forward, but I do have some thoughts as to how we got here.
When President Trump first announced that he was running for office in 2015, not many took him seriously. He had spent the past 7 or 8 years using conspiracy theories such as Bitherism to gain followers. By the time he announced his presidency, he was already far more popular than mainstream media cared to admit. He built his campaign on racism and dog-whistle tactics aimed to alienate anyone that he and his base deem as others. He used social media particularly Twitter to connect with the masses, especially those on the fringe of society. Those groups of people who feel that though society has forgotten them. Donald Trump gave them a voice.
As groups who had historically been marginalized were given more rights and protections, those who feared losing their foothold on power had found a leader they could rally behind. Republicans found a winner who would give them the power that they so deeply craved. It didn’t matter if he was endorsed by the KKK, or accused of sexual assault. All they saw was power and they would ride his coattails to get it.
What happened on January 6th, should not be a surprise to anyone. This country is built on violence and racism. It is in every word in the Constitution, in every brick in every building, and in the soil, that grows our crops. America was not built on peace. Nor is peace how revolutions are fought. And let’s make no mistake what is happening in this country is a revolution. It might not be one that is built on progress, but not all revolutions are. As we watch video of the Capital police opening doors, and gates to let insurrectionists into the building we found out which side they support. But what did we expect when multiple police unions in this country endorsed President Trump in this past election? One of the ways to successfully win a coup, is to gain the support of the military and law enforcement. We watched this summer as President Trump used the National Guard as his own personal bodyguards to teargas citizens so he could take a photo. But then we claim shock and horror as the police joined those who are willing to burn the country down just because they no longer feel warmth.
President Trump has used social media as his own personal tool to directly connect with his supporters. He has spread lies, and threatened all those who disagree with him while companies such as Facebook and Twitter sat back because they preferred the publicity than to do the right thing. Now that there was a coup, they are all taking the high road and banning the President with less than two weeks into his term. This is not bravery. It’s cowardice at the final hour. As Republicans sat there and defended him and his supporters, they now have all found a backbone and agree that he has gone too far. But not far enough, since they don’t support him being impeached or removed from office.
It makes me wonder how far is too far? There is no doubt in my mind, that this coup failed, because I do believe that they intended to kidnap members of Congress, and steal the electoral ballots. The benefit of social media, is that we can follow people in real time, and we were able to see this mob armed with zip ties, and weapons. It seemed chaotic, but it was not. In the past days, the defense for this mob, is that they were angry and wanted to have their voices heard. Though it is the most basic argument, there is truth in it. This majority white mob is angry. Angry that the world is not what they thought it would be. Angry that they have lost control of a country that they believe is theirs. Wearing multiple signs of racism, anti-Semitism, and Nazism, aimed to make others to feel as scared as they do. But still this is not enough to get Republicans to act.
Everyone has compared the police response from this insurrection to the Black Lives Matter protests that shaped much of last year. But you cannot compare the two. One is a group of people protesting for the right to live, and the other is a group of people rioting to live their lives the way they want, even if it’s the belief that others should die to achieve this. Both groups are using their voice to be heard, but only one group is perceived to be violent. This country has a history with underestimating the violence of white people. Given the benefit of being innocent until proven guilty, and even then, the violence is usually always justified.
This outrage after people of color, particularly Black people, gain any strides has been labeled Whitelash. We saw it after the Civil War, which led to lynchings and the Jim Crow Era. We falsely believe that we are more evolved than this because we refuse to learn from history. We don’t tell our children the truth, because is it painful. But those who do not know their history are bound to repeat it.
The world has seen many dictators. And the world will see many more. To make ourselves feel better we deny that they had support in their rise to power. But they all did. It is not easy to rule a country, even with fear, if there are not those who support you by your side. We have studied the rise of some of the world’s most prolific dictators such as Hitler, and we see many similarities between his play book and the President’s playbook. He has studied or those around him have studied their history. The sad part is that this history is available for us to study too. If we are to blame anyone we should blame ourselves. We as a people allowed this. We have chosen to bury the past, and ignore the voices of those who have been marginalized and those who falsely believe that they are. This level of anger and violence does not die. It is reborn. What we are seeing are the seeds of racism and fear that were planted in this country years ago taking root.
All our elected officials who have continued to support the President have blood on their hands for the five lives lost on January 6th. Every single member of Donald Trump’s administration who has used his popularity to gain power is culpable in the siege on the Capital. who culpable in the siege on the Capital. Every news outlet and journalist who aired his lies and defended him is responsible for the violence that the world witnessed.
How our country moves forward from this moment will change our future forever. Even now, there are discussions and calls for more violence as we approach the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. If our lawmakers do not unite and vote to remove President Trump from office so that he may never hold office again, they are stating clearly that they do not love this country, but they love power. If you are quiet during these moments, you have made your choice. All it takes for evil men to rise is for good men to do nothing.