I clicked CNN on Wednesday morning while working. I thought it would be good to listen to the speeches on the floor of the senate regarding the final certification of the election results. Isn’t it interesting that election after election rolls by and this same event happens (albeit with less drama), and most of us aren’t even aware that it happened? But not this year. After multiple lawsuits, a continuous barrage of lies crying fraud, failed rallies, and more lunacy out of Trump and his faithful, the senate certification was the last step towards Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ inauguration January 20.
So, one minute Ted Cruz was speaking (and I was rolling my eyes), and the next, cameras were panning out over a swelling crowd rapidly moving toward the capitol building. The reporters covering events went from monotone-speak to panic, as the crowd approached the building and forced their way in—unbelievable to anyone who’s been in DC post 9/11.
We all know what happened next. Surreal, shocking, disgusting.
Trump didn’t call in the national guard who could have squashed the insurrection. The Capitol police were woefully unprepared and, in a few cases, appearing to be welcoming to the brazen trespassers (photo evidence is available). It took hours before police backup from Maryland and Virginia assembled and got in place.
Thankfully, all elected officials were evacuated to safety and the official boxes containing the electoral college votes were rapidly removed thanks to a quick-thinking squad of women who in all honesty, helped save our democracy.
As the dust somewhat settled as late night rolled in, analysis on all news networks picked apart what was clearly an attempted coup, minute by minute.
And several ugly things emerged.
- Had the crowd been Black Lives Matters, or really any group of minority protestors, they would have never made it to the first steps, let alone broken windows to climb through.
- There would have been many more deaths.
- The National Guard, SWAT team, DC Police, Capitol Police would have all been positioned at the ready in full riot gear, guns locked and loaded.
By the early hours of January 7, objections had been rescinded on the senate floor and resignations from White House staff and cabinet members began flowing in.
But by morning, I already knew what was coming next. And sure enough, the chorus began to swell with the “violence is terrible and both sides are guilty of it,” or “It’s just so sad, but both sides have been violent—look at what the left did this summer, etc.” I don’t want to write all the things I heard along those lines because they are literally raising my blood pressure to recount them.
The violence of this summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death and nationwide protests was terrible. We all can agree that violence is not the answer and does more harm than good. However, it’s the reasons behind the violence of both the summer and January 6 that can’t be placed on equal footing.
Dr. King said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Before anyone says I’m trying to defend Target looters and the people who sacked the police department in Minneapolis, stop and understand what could drive people to so much rage and despair destruction offers the only outlet. The protests against the murder of George Floyd and all Black individuals who have been killed at the hands of senseless and ruthless cops, were necessary. These deaths stem from deeply rooted systemic racism going back to the infancy of this nation. If you haven’t made peace with the following fact, do it now: America was built on the backs of Black people—from its early infrastructure, economy, right down to the White House itself. That Black Americans have been treated as less than human at worst, and second-class citizens at best, for 400 years is unacceptable.
That legacy was never squashed with the abolition of slavery or the laws enacted as a result of the civil rights movement. Not even Barack Obama as president changed things enough. Human nature will allow rage to bubble up when nothing is done. And in this particular situation, when nothing is done, innocent Black people continue to die. Is it heartbreaking to see this type of violence break out in the very communities that don’t need that? Absolutely. Do I get where the anger, hurt, rage, and sense of hopelessness comes from? Yes, I do. While I understand it, it doesn’t make it the right option. Let me be clear on that.
But the riotous act of sedition and treason that resulted in an attempted coup on January 6, 2021 was the result of the false and incendiary rhetoric of Donald Trump and legions of Americans who have been foolishly swept up by their loyalty to one man over their country. As more details of the attempted coup are emerging, it’s getting clearer that what transpired was not a gang of over enthusiastic Trumpers getting out of hand. Multiple bombs, Molotov cocktails, weapons, and even zip ties for restraining people were part of the mêlée. Does that sound like just a spur-of-the-moment, whipped into a frenzy, charge toward the Capitol building to you? As author Dan Koit reports, “They were out for blood.” (https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/01/was-there-a-plan-for-hostages-or-killings-at-the-capitol.html). There had to have been planning involved with only one purpose behind it—to keep Donald J. Trump in power, at all costs. Patriots? Hell no.
What has resulted now are ongoing GOP defections and a quickly growing list of federal and local investigations which will likely result in prosecution. That sort of stuff doesn’t quickly pop up from a “peaceful protest,” gone awry. Those who remain defending Trump while refusing to condemn the acts of January 6 should be ashamed of themselves.
As Trump supporters both ardent and mildly sympathetic, keep popping up with their “both sides have problems” logic, they are only painting themselves as too blindly devoted to a foolish despot. And its pathetic. Because its apparent now that many of these otherwise sensible people have clearly lost their true north.
In 2021, how much more needs to happen to call out what must be called out? Oppose violence yes, but at the same time pay close attention to the objectives and results of protests and make sure you understand the root causes. One of the obvious problems with people spouting “both sides have problems?” They are paying more attention to the dominant color of the protesters than the reason behind the protests.
After the nation nearly missed a total coup this week where elected officials could have been held hostage and/or murdered, to try to lump this in with BLM protests and the like, is completely inappropriate and totally out-of-order. Because if you aren’t desperately clinging to Donald Trump and all that he represents, you should be able to see what’s what. So when you can’t, it only reveals your true colors.
But there is a silver lining to this very dark cloud—the voices calling for justice in America are only getting louder and growing in number. And come January 20, they will also get considerably more powerful.