Letter From the Editor: D.C. Discourse | Izzy Ster
On January 6th, 2021 (yes, 2021, despite the event’s likeness to 2020), Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to disrupt Congress’s proceedings to confirm the election of Joe Biden as president. What began as a rally outside the White House, in which Trump encouraged attendees to march to the Capitol to protest these ceremonial proceedings, soon spiraled into a not-shocking-as-it-should-be (given the nature of the administration the past four years) occurrence. Following pushing past barriers surrounding the Capitol, supporters roamed through the building, breaching areas such as the Senate chamber. An armed standoff ensued at the House front door; an improvised explosive was found (with a pipe-bomb-esque device being discovered at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee as well; four people died (one woman being shot and the three others suffered from medical emergencies); smoke grenades were deployed on the Senate side of the building. Congress Members were ordered to shelter-in-place and Vice President Mike Pence was led out of the building into lockdown after the building was breached. Hours following the riot, authorities utilized tear gas and flash-bang grenades to people in front of the Capitol, and as of 9:30 p.m., 52 people were arrested. Once Trump supporters were cleared out of the building, proceedings resumed at about 8 p.m. under Pence’s call to “…get back to work.” Mayor Muriel Bowser has issued a citywide curfew until Thursday and requested National Guard presence.
Trump’s spokeswoman, Kayleigh McEnany, after over an hour of the riot had elapsed said, “We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful.” President Trump later released a video urging them to go home, while also continuing to tout false claims of being cheated out of a victory. To his supporters, he assured: “Go home, we love, you’re very special.” Pence strayed away from the President, tweeting: “The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building.” As a result, Twitter yesterday locked President Trump’s Twitter account for 12 hours, while, as of this morning, Facebook announced that Trump would be banned from Facebook indefinitely. In more current events, presumptive Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has now implored Vice President Mike Pence to utilize the 25th Amendment (which states in the removal of the President from office, the Vice President shall succeed him) to remove President Trump from office.
Now, I know many readers of this article have heard all sorts of perspectives: we are a part of a generation with an incredible amount of media and information disposal to us. I just have a few thoughts on the event that transpired yesterday that I would like to share.
In this article, I refrained from calling the people involved in the rampage on the Capitol Building “protestors.” Protesting is apart of the First Amendment of the Constitution–the events that occurred yesterday were disrespectful to our nation’s highly-respected document; it was entirely unpatriotic. Instead, I would like to elicit the term “domestic terrorism,” which is defined as committing terrorist acts (including the use of violence and intimidation in a way to advance one’s political agenda) in one’s own country against their fellow citizens. For this reason, I will not use protestors in my article to describe the attempted coup. To give some historical context of just how bizarre the world we live in is (not that you need the reminder), the last time an insurrection was against the Capitol was during the War of 1812: the British burned the building in August of 1814 (U.S. Capitol Historical Society). Even in the only other case of a similar event, it was another country against our own.
The rioting that arose yesterday is even more disheartening considering the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred over the summer: the racial double standard in this country is ever-present, and if you’re letting ignorance blind you to this fact, you are a part of the problem in this country. To draw a direct comparison, this disgusting scene was met with significantly less authority than many of the BLM protests: federal police employed force against peaceful protestors in Lafayette Square over the summer for President Trump to take the (to an extent) infamous photo in front of a church. On the contrary, protestors were able to storm Capitol police.
It didn’t seem possible but, President Trump has seemed to stoop to an even lower level than possible. His praise of his supporters goes to further support his narcissistic, and as demonstrated multiple times during his presidency, fascist nature. The President has neglected the greater good of the United States in favor of his own interests. Once again, it feels embarrassing to be associated with the United States currently. To also emphasize the magnitude of the event that occurred yesterday, I would recommend looking into the March on Rome, a 1922 demonstration that resulted in Mussolini’s rise to power in Italy (again, I don’t bring this up to incite fear, just to draw historic parallels).
To the supporters, you should be entirely ashamed of yourselves (to say the very least). This goes beyond a reaction of “being a sore loser;” that stops being acceptable past elementary school. The actions you participated in yesterday doesn’t make you “patriotic” and you will not be deemed martyrs by the people who truly matter. The blatant hypocrisy and ignorance you continue to exercise is truly disgusting. Waving around an American flag doesn’t make you a blue-blooded American–our country is more than just a star-spangled banner.
2020 was exhausting, there’s no other way to put it. It’s difficult to wake-up and read headlines that will occupy modern history books. Yesterday, a teacher reminded me that democracy goes behind the intricate, white marble buildings. If you look purely at its definition, democracy means a system of severance in which power is vested in the people, us. It’s easy to look at our phones or televisions and see smoke pouring out of a sacred building in our country to lose sight of the–I certainly fell victim to that yesterday. Yet, if nothing else, this is a wake up call–which is difficult for me to write because I believe social injustice and a pandemic should have served as this (and in some ways, it’s disheartening it takes an event to this degree to see that). Our country has strayed away from the system of governance our Founding Fathers outlined for us. In a mere two weeks, a constructed national nightmare will be over, but let’s not forget the lessons we learned from it. With the outcome of recent political elections, I remain hopeful, yet pessimistic, of the state of our country’s government. It’s still up to us, the people, to see through the change we want to be enacted; now more than ever, it is time to continue exercising our voices, speaking louder for others who can’t, and, for the lack of a better term, remained royally pissed off. Our country is comprised of more than Greek architecture and intimidation won’t shake us; democracy will prevail.