Another sad page of American history was written on Jan. 6. There have been many dark episodes within just the last year that will surely make the history books, but this most recent incident was particularly exceptional in terms of its severity and ugliness. I am sure that all of you, like me, were shocked and disturbed upon learning that a mob of protestors stormed the Capitol Building in an attempt to obstruct Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.
In the wake of such a tragedy, we must be honest about the facts. This was an insurrection that was directly incited by our now former president. I am glad that the former president has since called for peace, but it was undeniably his narrative of fraud and specific instructions that initiated the riot. If there was one man to blame for the storming of the Capitol, it would be the former president.
But all the blame cannot be attributed to just one man. The gang of enablers that tolerated and supported the former president’s irrational and unfounded claim that the election was stolen must also bear a hefty load of the responsibility. What happened on Jan. 6 was not because of one man’s delusions alone; such delusions had to have been propagated by too many other leaders to cause such an incident.
Finally, the citizens who have completely detached themselves from reality and blindly accept our former president’s lies to the point of threatening our nation’s democractic process through violence cannot go unmentioned. I acknowledge that differences of opinion regarding public policy and political conflict will always exist. These types of disagreements can be addressed within our constitutional system. But there is an alarming segment of our population who intend to break our system if they do not get what they want. Those with intentions such as these cannot be ignored and regarded as “just having a different opinion.” They are terrorists.
I cannot close without noting that the attack on the Capitol was also yet another example of how Black Americans and White Americans are treated so incredibly differently, even in 2021. We all saw how this almost all-white mob was able to storm one of the most important and cherished buildings in the nation with shockingly little resistance. We also all saw how peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters were tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets outside of the White House this summer. I think we all know deep down that, had the riot last Wednesday consisted of mostly Black Americans, the outcome would have been very different.
So where do we go from here? I would say first and foremost that now is the time more than ever to be peacemakers in our fractured society. In addition, we must stand up for truth and justice. We cannot allow toxic lies to spread unchecked; the Capitol attack was an ominous example of what such misinformation and agitation can lead to. I am optimistic that the attack on the Capitol was provocative enough of an example to alert people of the danger our former president’s behavior poses and will spark a stronger, more united resistance against his blatant disregard for truth.
All in all, the attack failed. Congress certified the election; our democracy goes on. But this warning must be heeded and accountability must be imposed, or similar events are likely to follow.