Capitol Riots, America’s uncivil war

‘American Carnage’ is what comes to mind when witnessing the events that took place on Wednesday 6th of January 2021, as red hats invaded the United States Capitol after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s Victory was officialy announced by the American Congress. Shortly after it was declared, this harsh reality was quickly denied by Trump supporters who angrily stormed into the US capitol, in an attempt to protest Donald Trump’s defeat over claims of ‘falsified elections’. House Representatives, Senators and Congress staffers had to be evacuated or hidden in special rooms or in the House balcony, far away from the House Floor where the frenzy was taking place. Overall, 4 people died, as well as America’s image of a peaceful democracy.

Then, what does this mean for American Democracy ?

The Capitol riot unveiled a great deal of deeply rooted tensions that this country has tried to hide *and failed to do so* for decades. On the one hand, divisions within the Congress have been exposed thanks to these attacks : Democrat House Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez claimed in a youtube video that she thougt her own colleagues (who happened to be QAnon sympathizers and white supremacists) would not hesitate to disclose her hiding spot to the rioters), pointing out the divisions and dysfunctions of an institution (the Capitol) that is supposedly the symbol of US democracy ! An institution where, given the occasion, some individuals would be ready to hurt, and litterally kill their own associates just to prove a point (We shall not forget Senator Hawley, waving his left fist to the Capitol rioters….) ! Therefore, it is not only a threat coming from the outside, but from the inside as well, since we have been informed that, the day before, the panic button inside Sarah Groh’s office (Chief of staff of Democratic Representative Ayanna Presley), had been destroyed, and that the same day, some house members allegedly gave a Capitol tour to the attackers of the 6th of January, which explains the specific knowledge of the building these indviduals seemed to have. This event also exposed the lack of security and authority provided by the officers working in the sacred building : a jaw dropping video was posted all over social media where officers are seen passively standing still in the doorway while Trump supporters broke into the Capitol. And that is where an other problem lies : for let’s not be oblivious : we all know that, had the mob been of a different color (and I am not referring to the hats) the officers’s reactions would have been slightly different.

Indeed, this political circus also has crucial racial and social repercussions. This movement, without a doubt, has shed light on the racial divisions that are constantly poisoning american democracy, and the hypocrisy of the Capitol riots has been highlighted by many politicians and activits. Nicole Chavez, a journalist on CNN wrote about the dramatic difference between the way officers treated the January rioters and the way they usually treat BLM protesters of color.

We have heard too many stories, witnessed to many horrors not to acknowledge that, had the rioters looked a few shades darker, more than a handful would now probably lie in a coffin with a bullet to their heads. The ‘Black Lives matter Global Network’, one of the most influential organizations for the defense of black lives tackled the much too frequent use of violence against black people, claiming that ‘ If the protesters were black, we would have been tear gassed, battered, and perhaps shot’, therefore criticizing the ‘Hypocrisy in (their) country’s law enforcement’s response to protests’ and shedding light to one of the biggest struggles America has known * systemic racism* that has only worsened as the years went by.

It is safe to say that Joseph Colbert, in his monologue on the 6th of January about the Capitol disaster summed up the situation perfectly ‘Thank God it was only white men with guns, if it had been a black man with a can of iced tea it might have really escalated’. Here’s another form of hypocrisy for you : why is it that a young black boy is easily called a ‘thug’ when an armed white man isn’t considered a terrorist ?

So… What happens next ?

One answer has been given crystal clear by the 46th President of the United States during his inauguration speech : unity is strength. To achieve this goal that is bringing democracy back, the Biden Administration will have to punish those who waved the Confederate flag on January the 6th, symbol of slavery and white supremacy. That means sanctioning politicians who told the Big Lie (Denial of Trump’s defeat). We cannot let the people who allowed the presence of the Confederate flag to walk around unpunished. To quote Alexander Hamilton : ‘The hope of impunity is a strong incitement to sedition ; the dread of punishment, a proportionably strong discouragement to it’, meaning that the new government should stop deputies like Senator Josh Hawley before a political implosion takes place in America.

The punishment tho, to those who incited the crowd last week, will have to be more than depriving them of their functions. As Alexandria Ocasio Cortez stated ‘They (The politicians) think that resigning is going to clean that blood off their hands…’. Surely sanctions will have to be some stain that will never leave those seditionists. As an example, former president Donald J Trump was impeached a second time a few days ago, a first step to a long healing journey for the United States.

Then again : It does not mean that all of America’s many divisions will magically disappear with the newly appointed president… Systemic racism, hatred, and homophobia are still a painful reality.

That is why, in these times of dire need, Joe Biden has asked all Americans to ‘listen to one another’ in order to make unity prevail and move forward. In his presidential program, the new President has, amongst other goals, the desire to end the many divisions tearing this country apart, by fighting for African American lives, and advocating for LGBTQ+ causes, therefore putting an end to Donald Trump’s prospect : Making America Hate Again.

Yasmine Renaud

Sources :

. France Bleu, Victor Tribot Laspière, Etats-Unis : 4 morts après l’invasion du Capitole à Washington, la victoire de Biden confirmée par le Congrès.

. Decode DC, youtube video, Donald Trump proclaims American Carnage’ must end. . Now This, youtube video, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez recaps horror of Capitol attack.

. Newsweek, 13th of January 2021, Rebecca Speare Cole, Office panic buttons were tornout before riots.

. CNN News article, Nicole Chavez, 11th of January 2021, Rioters breached US capitol security on Wednesday. This was the police response when it was Black protesters on DC streets last year.

PBS, Youtube video, Watch : Joe Biden gives first speech as President.