The Divided States of America: Trumpist Terrorists Raid D.C.


Caroline Fitzpatrick

Attack on D.C. (collage using photos courtesy of the New York Times)

Anguish, fury, distraught, numbness.

These are the words that describe my emotional state as I watched my T.V. on January 6 and witnessed the 1st nationally televised attempted coup on our nation’s capital. Suddenly, the pile of homework that was waiting for me on my desk fell to the bottom of my list of priorities.

Once you live through enough history, the dark days of the current pandemic, social injustice, and other momentous events almost lose their ability to inspire shock. I want to reiterate that this is not normal; what we all witnessed that was happening in Washington, D.C. was, with complete accuracy and veracity, an act of domestic terrorism that will forever be reflected on as 1 of the most despicable occurrences in recent American history.

Regardless of what bubble you filled in on your recent ballots or political affiliation, it is essential that we as a community recognize the shamefulness of the attempt to lay siege to our nation’s capital building with the intention to incite fear and intimidate our government into fulfilling an agenda that aims to unconstitutionally re-elect President Donald J. Trump when the American people have voted otherwise.

In fact, this very course of action resulted in several senators who previously intended to not vote to certify Joe Biden’s winning of the 2020 election to realize the very real danger of feeding Trump’s baseless delusions of fraud. If anything can scare politicians into remembering the problem with selling out American democracy by feeding into the frenzy of misinformation, it’s the congregation of neo-Nazis, racists, and blood-thirsty rioters on the very steps of our nation’s government.

By some strange work of the forces of the universe, we as students have the unique opportunity to witness these instances of history in the making through the lens of a junior U.S. history student, a senior taking government, or an underclassman learning about the creation of many political ideologies and world governments. Therefore, I feel a duty as a student during this dead-end era in our history to examine some of the nuances of recent events in order to better dissect the events of January 6 and the aftermath of today’s Divided States of America.

The events of January 6 are not just the sheer ludicrousness of 2020 leeching over into the new year; the circus of an invasion on the capitol building as well as the violence serve as direct consequences of misinformation from Trump and a select number of U.S. senators regarding the legitimacy of what has not been proven as anything more than a free and fair election. Designating the burden and responsibility of these events on anyone else would be doing our country a large disservice.

Whether it’s said in a Tweet or directly to a population of people, if you tell a kid it’s okay to play with fire, do not be surprised when the children of your neighborhood start lighting massive bonfires everywhere. From expressly denying the commitment to a peaceful transition of power during his debate with President-Elect Joe Biden, Trump only lined up the dominoes in just the perfect alignment to further topple the century-old republic that has survived since its establishment.

The word “patriot” is being thrown around a lot surrounding the attempted coup of the capital with many of the raiders and their supporters fostering the perspective that taking up their grievances with the capital building being an act of patriotism or heroism. However, many of these rioters were seen wielding distorted versions of the American flag with superimposed images of Trump’s face or name inscribed across them, conveying the gross iconoclasm of a single figure rather than pride for our nation as a whole. Trump did not win anywhere close to all fifty states of the United States in the electoral college, so why blow-up his face on a flag?

Additionally, others brought Confederate flags, which had the exact opposite effect of inciting American nationalism; the Confederacy literally opposed the United States in the Civil War (and lost), conveying how rhetoric like “patriots” to describe the perpetrators on January 6 is severely misguided and cannot possibly excuse this besmirch on our nation’s history.

Finally, many attendees adorned clothing reading “Camp Auschwitz” in addition to various other repulsively anti-Semitic neo-Nazi rhetoric. To group these people in with the patriotism of America in any way, shape, or form, is nauseating, vile, and unforgivable.

Washington D.C., which–according to Governing has the most police officers per capita of any U.S. city–totally dropped the ball in keeping these Trump supporters out. According to CNN, 2 D.C. officers have been suspended and many more are under investigation for providing directions through the capital building to the invaders or clearing a path for them inside. In spite of the fact that the events of January 6 had been followed closely by police prior to the event, something is just not adding up in regards to the massive fail on the security of D.C.

An important point highlighted by the recent violent altercations in Washington D.C. is the evidently stark contrast between the reception of earlier protests of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, where 93 percent of protests were peaceful, according to Time, yet BLM demonstrators were met with exponentially more rubber bullets, army tanks, tear gas, and beatings.

While some of Trump’s semi-armed militia force was met with mace, Americans watching the scenes unfold via the broadcast could plainly watch as police lines broke or when the intruders were able to use the window-wiping platform to tear out an American flag to replace it with Trump paraphernalia; in fact, the crowd of invaders managed to beat a police officer to death with a fire extinguisher and walk away unscathed in their efforts when these were the very people that fervently proclaimed “Blue Lives Matter” in direct opposition of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” said President-Elect Joe Biden to the country on January 7.

If the events of January 6 proved anything asides from the incredibly concerning breaking point our country is approaching, it’s that there are two completely different American experiences: the one where people are silenced and must take to the streets to self-advocate for their lives and experiences, and those who only believe in the right to protest(or revolt) if it suits their personal political vendetta. There are those who’s gatherings are formally met with rubber bullets and the National Guard, and those with whom the police take selfies before turning a blind eye as the seat of democracy is destroyed. Finally, there are the Americans who Trump refers to as “thugs” and the domestic terrorists he regards warmly as “special people” who are “loved” dearly.

My hope is that at least more citizens are willing to accept this saddening truth given the juxtaposition of the siege of the capital and earlier BLM marches.