Capitol Riots: This is Who We Are
The absolute chaos of last Wednesday behind us, we now see the analysis, explanations, and fallout of the Capitol riots filling out the picture of what actually took place. Amid cries for resignation and impeachment, amid partisan reckoning about what the consequences of this riot should be, amid news about the play-by-play events occurring on Capitol Hill, we here at Dr. Logan Speaks are intrigued by specific rhetoric coming from those who are saying “this is not who we are.”
Shock or surprise at the events of last week reveal something about the individual expressing those feelings. The truth is, this IS who we are. It is not just the last week, or the last four weeks, or the last eight weeks, or even the last four years that has led us to this moment.
Of course, Trump’s arrogance, sociopathy, superiority complex, and greed for power have contributed to the emboldening of right-wing individuals who felt unheard — mostly White men who felt like they finally had a confidante, champion, and friend in Trump. It is his words and actions that have led to the popularity of the Proud Boys and QAnon, the strengthening of other White supremacists organizations and groups, and actions that led to the violent and undemocratic riots last week.
But the rift in democracy started much earlier — and our clue about its beginnings is revealed in the Nazi and Confederate symbolism present at the riots. In anti-Blackness and anti-semitism, the building blocks of a White supremacist America, privileged White individuals become emboldened to declare their superiority and then fight with their lives against anyone who tries to establish equity and justice. This centuries-old legacy is what brought us to last Wednesday, our eyes glued to the tv as we said over and over again, I can’t believe this is happening.
When we pay attention, we realize this is no surprise at all. Just as the police treatment of violent White nationalist protests last week is so predictably different from the treatment of peaceful Black Lives Matter protests last summer at the Capital, so the inequity and frightening rift in our nation is unsurprising and persistent. This is history being lived out today.
Without recognition and understanding of the origins of these dangerous rifts and their prevalence today, this country can never be restored to a productive democracy. It is the multigenerational obliviousness and hereditary denial to this point that allows it to fester and wreak havoc! This is who we are — and we have to say it out loud. We can never get over who we are by denying who we are. Wishful thinking will not make this go away. A true reckoning of our identity as a nation, as a people, and as individuals, is where it all begins. Not only can we discover truth, we can uncover the truth to our intersecting histories and common humanity (which gets lost in this).
Consider Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s words on the white privilege on display at the Capitol last week and join us in reflecting on the ways our communities refuse to take seriously the histories that continue to haunt us today.