Is this what we’ve come to? The last shards of American civility shattered as insurrectionists stormed into our House of Democracy with minimal capitol police presence to stop their assault?
My neighbor, a native from Brazil, mentioned she came home to see her husband holding a hand to his mouth as he watched the news. She glanced at the TV screen. “Oh! Another coup. Which country this time?” Then she saw the American flag.
I remember walking down an empty street the day after the 2016 election and spotting an 8 of Spades from a deck of playing cards. As it was a strange item to come upon, I Googled the card’s meaning: Temptation, misfortune, danger, upsets, chaos.
That prediction has come true over the last four years, with immigrant children wrung from their parents’ arms, half the nation calling the pandemic a scientist-sponsored hoax, Black Lives Matter protestors and rioters facing a massive military show of force, and most recently, the president of the United Stated refusing to accept the confirmed vote count that will soon boot him from office.
But the final affront to our nation occurred on January 6, 2021, a day to go down in infamy, as President Donald Trump stood in front of thousands of his followers, inciting them to storm the capitol and disrupt the electoral college vote. Terrorized members of Congress wearing medical masks and gas masks, barricading themselves in their offices.
Once inside the chambers, however, the mob looked more like tourists, taking pictures of papers scattered on the floor, broken desks. One guy making off with a lectern. Another plopping into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s chair and grinning for a portrait. Others posed for pictures beneath a painting of the Civil War.
As we’ve seen during this administration, two polar opposite realities.
Even more shocking than what we already saw was watching insurrectionists being calmly escorted outside by the capitol police, one capitol police officer even taking selfies with the mob. Fifty arrests in total provided a stark contrast to the 316 Black Lives Matter predominantly peaceful demonstrators who were tear-gassed and thrown to the ground in Minneapolis on June 1, 2020 after police killed George Floyd.
Fortunately, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer, for perhaps the first time in this administration, came together to form a plan. Refusing to allow domestic terrorists to rule the day, Congress reconvened to count those electoral votes, and Joe Biden will duly be sworn in as president, Kamala Harris as vice president, of the United States on January 20, 2021.
I was talking with a friend about the aftermath of the attempted coup, re: many legislators and company CFOs calling for Trump’s impeachment. We grimaced at a Facebook post that said: Twitter has permanently removed President Trump’s account for incendiary posts, and that’s the guy you want to press the nuclear bomb button?”
My friend then posed a question that will funnel through my brain for a long time to come: “How can we deprogram half the nation who are just following their cult leader?” My response is this. We still live in America. No matter how abhorrent to us are the beliefs of others, America can not become another Communist China, throwing people into mass detention camps to reprogram them using forced ideological and behavioral re-education.
There must be a better way to dissolve people’s fears and distrust, creating a society where justice will reign. As Joe Biden has said, “We must restore the soul of America.” I pray that the incoming president of the United States of America will do just that.