By Isabel Rodriguez
Editor - Ashleena Bilal
It is time we stop saying the actions that took place on January 6th, 2021, are not “American” because they are. The truth is, the deadly conflict on Capitol Hill stands as a reminder of how fragile our democratic constitutional republic is when we do not value words. It exposed the government framework that is tied to white supremacy and extremist hate. On Wednesday, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and privilege won. This is who we are. “A more perfect union” was a lie from the start.
Like many Americans, I have difficulty putting into words the emotions I feel about the extremist act that our former president helped to conspire. The words of some exploited hatred we knew was always there. America was doomed to repeat our history because we never learned from it.
It is time we all stop. We shall make no more excuses for the inaction or failure of police (cops are their friends, not foe), or play the blame game (we know who is responsible), and no more yelling about how this modern-day of infamy could have been deadlier if there were Black and Brown people in attendance. It is time we all stop. Every U.S. lawmaker, governing body, and federal agent takes responsibility for what happened, as it has been years in the making and the result of allowing misinformation and lies to spread and not fixing systemic failure. The GOP and President are not the only ones at fault here. They are just the loudest. Holding them accountable will not work this time, we must explicitly demand it or move to impeach.
Our country resolves issues in a Black and white mindset, literally and figuratively.
While we know Black lives matter protests were met with rubber bullets and tear gas, it is incredibly toxic and harmful to suggest that any Black life would be dead on the Capitol steps if they attempted hate extremists’ actions. The statements comparing the movements of alt-right fascist loving racist bigots to peaceful human right fighters are oxymorons. I will not ask you to “imagine how Black and Brown people would feel about hearing those statements.” I will ask you to recognize your implicit bias and tone-deafness and realize what we witnessed. Police treated violent criminal bigots with respect they did not deserve; why is the government only understanding and believing Black people’s perils now?
Confederates flew their flag on Capitol Hill 159 years after the civil war, and our President encouraged it. The sad reality is that this action was years in the making and went unnoticed and dismissed. BIPOC community members were shouting, screaming to be heard that white supremacy is not a thing of the past but currently thriving in our society. The white majority only recognized it eight months ago and forgot about it after their black square social media post.
Neo-Nazis walked into the most sacred space for our democratic practice with anti-Semitic hate merch. Charlottesville warned us but we did not listen. The first-ever Jewish senator from Georgia was elected on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Nazi flags were flown on the steps of capitol hill. How can we be making any “progressive” change when hate and violence are prevalent and being encouraged by top officials? Yet, no one is listening to the voices of the Jewish community and ignoring their existence in responses.
White privilege and power destructively marched for fascism, and their leaders cowered in fear upon realization they incited violence. 7 GOP senators changed their minds after they caused a hateful unpatriotic attack, and it will be noted that it took death, destruction, and madness for them to do so. To the GOP, White supremacy is only a “protest,” and Black lives matter is a “riot.” The rhetoric is strict for accountability, reform, and progressive change, but the entire dictionary is allowed for white supremacy, racism, and lies.
The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.
- Audre Lorde.
Language is often taken for granted. In life, we say things in the heat when we do not mean it, or we mean every word we say in a well-developed speech; both scenarios evoke emotions that can never be changed and always leave a mark. “...Stand back and stand by”, “Law and Order,” “...Very fine people, on both sides..” For four years, the carelessness of our President’s words allowed for this event to happen. The culmination of words that gave validity to Q-Anon members, the Proud Boys, Nazi’s, and other alt-right groups. Poor leadership is what led to the “war” cry “We won’t back down b****” written in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office. So, when describing January 6th, history will note everyone’s poor choice of words in the name of the first amendment. Wednesday was not a “protest” or “demonstration”, it was an insurrection and domestic terrorism. Not just Trump supporters stormed the Capitol; alt-right racist nazis did as well.
Wednesday’s attack was a symptom of a larger disease that needs no vaccination plan. Hate has a cure, but only some use the right words to treat it. True leaders heal through words, disgraceful leaders divide with hate speech, and authentic leaders unify through rhetoric, so it is up to us to decide whether this day will be one of many or be condemned and never repeated. This failed coup d'etat must be met with real consequences, and fundamental changes or disgrace will take power. Activism did not stop on election day; it only began.