The chaos that’s still happening in the Capitol is stomach-churning to watch, but it’s not at all surprising.
For all of American history, white men have been allowed to commit violence with impunity. There have never been any consequences. The violence of Jim Crow went unpunished. The savage resistance to advances in women’s rights and civil rights went unpunished. And just this year, the relentless onslaught of corruption, blatant lies, violence against Black protestors, and sabotaging of efforts to save people from COVID-19 all went unpunished. A small sampling of recent unpunished injustices:
- Kyle Rittenhouse got bailed out and championed after murdering peaceful protestors in cold blood.
- The cop who shot Jacob Blake in Wisconsin will go unpunished.
- Donald Trump hasn’t been held responsible for anything, even trying to overturn the election in Georgia.
- And now, terrorists stormed the Capitol building, enabled by police who did little to stop them.
We think we’ve moved past the era of lynchings and cross-burnings, but now that violence is just further institutionalized.
That’s not hyperbole — just watch this:
Cops are taking selfies with the terrorists. pic.twitter.com/EjkQ83h1p2
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 6, 2021
Things may even get worse tonight, because these rioters know there are no consequences.
Even scarier, the shattered remnants of our institutions have been neutered and corrupted to the point that they cannot begin to address what we’re facing.
The courts and GOP lawmakers have rigged elections with gerrymandering and voter suppression, with the full permission of the Supreme Court. Republicans embraced these QAnon conspiracy theorists and their hatred. Big businesses funded it. Reactionary media outlets promoted it and so-called unbiased media outlets normalize it (read this). Social media companies like Facebook have supersized it, organized it, and profited from it. In fact, many of the events are still up on Facebook as I write this.
Sean Hannity is already blaming the riots on Antifa on a radio show broadcast to millions of people. The lies will not stop. The poison is in the water.
Police, meanwhile, have allowed it all to happen again and again. Right-wing terrorists are still lingering in the Capitol at this moment, free to move about in the ways that peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors could only dream of experiencing. Thus far, just 13 people have been arrested, meaning that hundreds were allowed to walk out of the Capitol unharassed. There was no preparation for this, despite the fact that, again, the terrorist coup attempt was organized right on Facebook.
Of course, Donald Trump did nothing to help the situation — his video today only made it worse, and later, he justified and reveled in the violence. The only difference between Trump and ISIS at this point is that ISIS doesn’t claim credit for a terrorist attack until after it’s over.
Trump needs to be impeached and removed from office immediately. But that won’t end this. It wasn’t Donald Trump that inspired people to adopt and carry the Confederate flag throughout the Capitol:
That flag is 170 years old. It will live on past Trump. It is a tragedy and a travesty.
These terrorists know that the system is broken. We spent all of 2020 raising money and awareness for Democratic candidates running down-ballot, but Republicans still kept every single state legislature. The hatred and lies, aided by the gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics that were green-lit by the Supreme Court, made it impossible to overtake them this time around. This all emboldens them.
So what do we do as progressives? First, we must continue to help the grassroots groups like those that won Georgia for Democrats last night — the danger and anger they now face from reactionaries is unimaginable. As I wrote last night, and is even more true now, we must push Democrats to fight for big, progressive policies that make people’s lives better — clearly, Republicans are not going to compromise, because their psychotic base will bomb their offices. Even asking them to compromise gives them power and legitimizes them.
In fact, Congressional Democrats should consider expelling the worst of these seditious Republicans. Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Steve Scalise, Ron Johnson — they all should be ousted. They’ve stoked this for far too long.
And finally, we cannot flinch in the face of this violence. We have to demand accountability. We have to be good allies to the people who have been beaten and abused by police for peacefully demanding equality. And we must make sure these terrorists know that they are profoundly pathetic:
The world's wealthiest and most powerful nation state… pic.twitter.com/qhcbMWzH11
— Sam Cowie (@SamCowie84) January 6, 2021
I’ve been saying and tweeting “Republicans are terrorists” for the last five years. It was never really meant to be a metaphor, given their refusal to ban semi-automatic weapons and ongoing fight to strip healthcare from tens of millions of Americans. Now, it’s almost underselling what this party and its supporters have become.
They’re not just terrorists, they’re traitors.
Last night, we saw people of color show up for Democrats and flip Georgia. Today, we’re seeing neo-Nazi Republicans trying to stage a coup. The only way out of this is by empowering working people, people of color, and the people who will fight every step of the way. I know that’s frequently my solution, but there are no other viable options. You look evil in the eye and stare it down.