It’s a strange experience to watch history unfold live through a television. Both fully detached from reality and emotionally engaging. Together this experience creates a form of otherness, unrealness, that allows us to distance ourselves from fact and authenticity. Often all we can muster is “I can’t believe this is happening”.
What happened on January 6th, 2021 was horribly predictable and preventable. Anyone with a sense of history or reason could see in 2016 the President-elect would be a strain on if not dismantling of democracy, decency, respect, and progress in America. A man who believed only in his own ego and superiority would do anything and everything to deceive, lie, cheat, and manipulate his way into more power and money. The party that nominated and enabled him would become caught in the wake of his corruption.
Substitute any other country in the world with the U.S. with what happened on Wednesday, and we’d be aghast, horrified at what was transpiring. Footage of people invading their government to overthrow an election, usurp a democratic process, would elicit and strong responses from our leaders and officials. Yet days after the complicit party can only muster a weak response no more useful or powerful than a strongly worded note.
This was not a protest. This was not peaceful. This was the outrage of white people who aren’t accustomed to losing, and have the freedom to do what they want, how they want, without penalty or recourse.
Throughout the summer of 2020 we watched again how thousands and thousands and thousands of people gathered in the streets to protest yet another and another and another black life being maliciously and callously taken. Lines and lines of law enforcement fired tear gas and rubber bullets and used excessive amounts of force on these protesters. Even a teenager with an overt sense of privilege shot and killed two people.
Yet on Wednesday, as thousands and thousands of white people stormed the Capitol, urged on by their President and party, waving America flags, Trump flags, religious banners, hate group propaganda, and Confederate flags, as a flailing, feeble, and half-hearted law enforcement presence simply had to step aside. Opening doors. Taking selfies. Helping people as they slowly walked away. A terrorist insurgency met with a shrug.
The difference between these responses is obvious: race.
White America is in revolt. A system they have rigged for their sake for hundreds of years is vanishing. Their voice, their power, their majority is shrinking. Republican lawmakers echo claims of fraud because they were so sure, so convinced, that they had succeeded in silencing so many voices of color, voices of openness, voices of tolerance, voices of progress, that there could be no way they lose.
Rather than confront their prejudices, expand their contingency, appeal to broader issues, the Republican party has tacitly agreed to amplify white superiority, religious nationalism, and anti-democratic policies. There is only one side that is responsible for a revolt against this country, and they are trying like hell to make sure you don’t notice.
There must be consequences, or our country is doomed for civil war and total collapse.
*The title is a reference to a hilarious John Mulaney bit