The coup attempt on Capitol Hill was not a one time frenzy. It was the result of internalized white supremacy and bigotry being perpetuated and stoked by political leaders leading to a dangerous outcome that potentially threatens the foundations of our Democracy.
Blood was spilled yesterday in our Capitol — on a day in which there was supposed to be a celebration of history being made. Democrats won the highly contested Georgia runoff election for control of the Senate.
In our nation’s capital, our top lawmakers were convening to certify the electoral win of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The biggest anticipated drama during the process was when a couple of Republican Senators engaged in political theatrics dissenting from the truth of the election results citing possible election fraud with no evidence. The ritual was interrupted when insurrectionists ransacked the capitol building in a disorganized coup attempt to stop the process.
This led to a chaotic encounter with the Capitol Police, leading to multiple arrests and the death of a woman in all the turmoil.
The attack by these terrorists was encouraged by the sitting President of the United States, Donald Trump.
The events on Wednesday were not a fluke.
This was an act of white supremacy — from the coup attempt to the Capitol police’s failure to handle these domestic terrorists in contrast to how they tear gassed Black Lives Matter protestors in the summer.
This was not a fringe group of extremists who hold no social or political capitol. These domestic terrorists were the supporters of a president who lost a free and fair election. A President who peddled fictitious conspiracy theories to his base after his loss in the general election to undermine one of the hallmarks of our democracy.
Donald Trump’s inability to accept the realities of his failures has completely invigorated him to incite a white supremacist revolt against the country on his behalf.
Historians, psychologists, sociologists all warned us about the dangers of a U.S. President using racially divisive language, vilifying immigrants, allowing rampant corruption in their administration, attacking the press and consistently lying.
This does considerable damage to the psyche of the country. This autocratic attempt at governance and inflammatory speech appeals to our worst nature. It not only potentially destabilizes our institutions, but it empowers the worst among us to feel comfortable taking harmful action against others who are deemed the enemy.
Donald Trump was not the first Republican to court the vote of racists.
Republican presidential candidates have always flirted with open bigots to obtain support. It has been a part of Modus Operandi for years ever since their southern strategy in the 1960s.
But when it came to national elections and government they would disguise the racist views of these supporters by cloaking them in the platitudinal language of American nationalism and exceptionalism.
Trump did the opposite.
He said the quiet part out loud. He embraced this part of the base and all their horrific traits and they embraced him and all of his personality defects. It was a marriage made in white supremacy.
His popularity made the Republican establishment trade in any principles or credibility they held for the power of the country. Trump’s inability to govern and questionable mental instability did not matter as long as he brought Republican control to the government.
The GOP would support him no matter what hysteria would come with it.
The strategy propelled them to win the White House and then four years later lose the House, Senate, Presidency, and insurgents trying to overturn election results in the capitol.
What we saw happen in the Capitol is the wrought of when a U.S president enlists the support of white supremacy and amplifies it with pride, “Proud Stand back and stand by”.
White supremacist power structure rigs the political and economic system in its favor. A loss is unfathomable, impossible, fraudulent. To white supremacists, if that loss cannot be rectified then that means, the system is broken and must be destroyed by them even if it hurts everyone involved; a system in which they don’t win in all circumstances is a system that must be torn down.
No matter how fair the process is, if an undesirable outcome is reached, then chaos must ensue. Even at the expense of the country they claim to hold dear.
As the president encouraged white insurrectionists to enter the Capitol, those in charge of keeping the building and its people secure were outnumbered, out maneuvered and negligent in their duties.
An angry mob took over lawmaker offices, stole important documents, paraded around the building like it was a circus and raided the offices and hallways of the center for American democracy. Law enforcement failed to handle the situation.
The ransacked office of the Senate Parliamentarian: pic.twitter.com/E7PsSgoAEX
— Ali Zaslav (@alizaslav) January 7, 2021
The advantages of white supremacy are in the assumptions that white people commiting crime are in need and people of color who do the same need to be eradicated. It’s when insurrectionists thugs can take selfies with officers while raiding a building and are told politely to leave while Black Americans are met with teargas to the face and boots to the stomach when they ask those who are sworn to protect them to stop killing them.
This is not a unique unfortunate anecdote. This is America.
This is a part of who we are as a nation. Everything that occured in the Capitol was the culmination of years of a white power structure that has now gotten completely out of control even from those who tried to harness it.
The U.S. has had racism in its system for a long time yet there’s a refusal to confront its ugliness and root it out of our lives.
Our republic is in a rare moment. We have the choice to go down two different paths.
If we continue down the current path we are on now, which is to adhere to white supremacy, ignore the needs of the less fortunate, and continuously feed into the greed of the rich and powerful… well we just saw what kind of chaos that leads to.
The end of our American experiment as we know it.
But if we choose a different path of not only acknowledging our sins but trying to rectify them; if we commit our efforts to providing dignity to the lives of ordinary people, hold the powerful accountable and provide fair opportunities for all of our citizens, then this country would be living up to the original creed in which its citizens proudly epouses.
That may be wishful thinking and I wonder if we are even capable of that.
We can do better if we choose to because we are also a country where an 82 year old Black woman, Verlene Warnock, who was forced to pick cotton, will witness her youngest son Raphael Warnock be sworn in as a United States Senator of Georgia along with a young Jewish man, Jon Osoff . All was possible due to the organizational efforts of a Black Woman named Stacey Abrams who created a multicultural and multi ethnic coalition.