Today, a year after an angry crowd of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol to try to overthrow a fair and just presidential election, the nation will remember that horror in speeches, prayers and candlelight. But what should be the obvious consequence of a tragic event, the fog remains as thick as ever. A day that should be one of unified commemoration, promises to be one in which the country sticks to what happened and what it means to be American.
Whatever the country is marking, it is an unbroken division of our own making.
It’s hard to know what anyone will remember this week for. Is this the anniversary of the moment when democracy was mortally wounded? As we head towards 2024 and another presidential election, perhaps these are the last gasp of democracy. Or was that chapter of chaos and terror a testament to the resilience of democracy – a testament to its ability to survive a devastating onslaught from within? Has the country been strengthened in places that are broken, or irreparably weak?
The president will speak to the nation – and a significant percentage of Americans still do not believe that Joe Biden is the legitimately elected commander in chief.
The House of Representatives will host a moment of dignified silence, belief in the beautiful nature of our politics – one in which lies and meanness have evolved into campaign strategies rather than distractions.
Vigilance has been declared in Washington, Florida, Arizona and several other states—not for those injured, killed, or terrorized by the Capitol’s storming, but for those jailed for storming. One man’s January 6 rebel is another man’s 6 January political prisoner. Truth is not elusive. It is a victim of willful ignorance.
The solemnity of January 6 recalls other terrifying moments in which America’s foundations have been shaken and tested. After the bombing and terrorist attacks on Pearl Harbor on September 11, 2001, the destruction and loss of life attracted the nation’s attention. After this, the nation mourned together; It gathered around a singular understanding of events. The country recognized heroism as an act of selflessness and patriotism as a defense of America’s promise. This is no longer true.
In these fractured times, the police who defended the Capitol in the midst of the riots, and who did so without caring for their personal safety, have been distorted and rejected, the painful truth, whose lives are protected by lawmakers. was done by The courage of the officers has become a veil of patriotic anger, despair, selfishness, paranoia, meanness, racism and cowardice. A few moments of quiet contemplation are poor defenses in the face of such emotional and physical violence.
Commemoration rituals should include mass catharsis. He should be a balm to the political body. But when the pain comes from within, everything becomes more complicated. The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was a deadly betrayal, and there was a desire that lessons could be learned from that devastation to help the country resolve it as it is. But there’s a singular difference that makes it nearly impossible: The bomber didn’t have innumerable vigilantes in honor. Timothy McVeigh’s betrayal was not turned into something worthy of praise. He wasn’t called a harmless tourist or a gullible victim of misinformation that just went a little too far.
The burning of Tulsa’s Greenwood district in 1921 was an unholy act of racism. The truth about the massacre of Black Tulsons by their white neighbors was one that was unintentionally left out by the wider community to offset its impact. Lies and concealment were part of America’s systematically constructed system of racism.
Last year, the country finally turned its eyes to this wound – one caused by hatred. Biden became the first president to visit the historic Tulsa site. He spoke of justice and healing; I have met survivors. There is even talk of compensation. It only took 100 years.
January 6 is very different from other occasions marked with celebrations and speeches in this country. This was not the day when the state stood up to protect its citizens from adversaries. No outside invaders entered our borders and climbed a wall only to face staunch resistance. Cruelty came from within – and it’s hard to cut cancer without causing even more damage to the whole.
The House impeached former President Donald Trump for inciting the crowd, but the Senate found him not guilty. Now, the Congress is trying its best to conduct a postmortem of the rebellion, which was recorded on video by the rioters in real time. And revisionists are doing everything possible to pretend that nothing really happened, or that what happened was a drama.
How do you remember anger and ignorance? How do you make peace with denial? Marking January 6th means acknowledging the events that unfolded and taking steps towards understanding them. But the thread that once held us so tightly together – the generosity full of valor and patriotism, the beauty of facts – has been shattered.
In those moments of contemplation, in the pauses between the President’s words, in the midst of prayer, we look for consolation. But we will count ourselves lucky if the peace is not disturbed by the sound of America’s broken threads finally breaking.
(© Washington Post)