Lest we forget

January 6, 2021: Capitol police draw their guns as insurrectionists try to break into the House chamber. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

We must never, ever forget the horror of January 6, 2021 — the day when Americans turned against Americans in an effort to subvert Democracy itself, to overturn the results of a legitimate national presidential election and seat instead a usurper, a thief, a delusional would-be dictator. It was a coup attempt, an insurrection — things that until that day had only happened in other countries less peaceful, less civilized, less democratic.

An ongoing pandemic, a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan — nothing compares to what we witnessed in Washington that day. We watched in disbelief as thousands of Americans, enabled and incited by a disgraced, demented former US President, broke into our Capitol in order to steal the election and seat their own leader.

Perhaps the mass media are trying to protect themselves from charges of defamation or bias when they refer to the event as a “riot” instead of stating the obvious; it was by definition an insurrection, a coup attempt. “Riot” downplays the gravity of events that day and, in turn, the seriousness of the crimes attempted and committed.

Never in our wildest dreams, nor even in our nightmares, had such a thing occurred. Yet there it was, live on our tv screens. We can’t “unsee” it. And perhaps that’s a good thing. We must never unsee and never forget. It can and did happen here. And it must never happen again.

*Banner Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

29 thoughts on “Lest we forget

  1. Now that is some picture!

    It was not a cohesive conspiracy overall, although there were certainly a number of sub-plots by white-nationalists like the Proud Boys. Rather, I think it shows just how fragile a thing is democracy. If American politics were an immune system, an event like this would be countered by a re-surging awareness of basic values. So far, the system is looking pretty weak.

    1. It might not have been a cohesive conspiracy but it was certainly a cohesive action. The date and place were widely circulated in advance on social media. Perhaps not everyone was there specifically to steal the election, but all were there to wreak havoc on the Capitol. And all were enabled and encouraged by a twice-impeached ex-president and his cronies.

      That this could and did happen in America is more unnerving than I can express.

  2. The photo of the noose intended for Pence, and the one above of the gun drawn, are the two photos that I think should always represent this insurrection. (Amazing speech Joe gave this morning!!!)

    1. The drawn guns really stuck with me. I published it last year, too. The other one was a surprise when I saw it somewhere in a recent “Year in Pictures” article. First time I’d seen one showing how really huge that mob was. Truly frightening. The gallows shot was also representative of the intent on that day. I still can’t get over something like that happening in this country.

      1. @Pied, consider searching on Youtube for the interviews Vice News did of the ones who entered the building.

        It was an array of reasons. I agree with you that the storming was planned. I think the extremist groups had intentions to storm and after they entered mass hysteria/ herd mentality led others to follow suit.

        The size of the crowd doesn’t accurately reflect the conspirators of the action. That doesn’t make those who followed innocent though, but maybe deserving of less harsh penalties.

        1. Admittedly some of those in the crowd had evil intent and came prepared for battle with weapons and riot gear, while others perhaps intended only to stand outside en masse to demonstrate their displeasure. But regardless of original intent, all knew it was wrong and/or illegal to break into the Capitol; attack Capitol police; deface, destroy or steal property in the Capitol, etc. I trust the Justice Department and those investigating the incident to mete out appropriate punishment. The insurrectionists are just lucky they don’t have to answer to me!

          1. Most def. Especially as facts come to light of their planning.

            And yes, that’s why I said they were still in the wrong.

            The justice dept seems to doing a good job prosecuting the people involved.

            Potentially yes, though it may be difficult to prosecute those involved in general because it is unprecedented. If it were me, I know I’d have difficulty setting a base penalty for all involved. That said, those who organized and instigated the attack would probably receive the fullest penalty I could deliver.

    2. I live in Louisiana where the Confederate flag is a fairly daily sight. I would say I was shocked to see the photos of it in the Capitol, but in reality I was only disappointed.

      It’s the photo that comes to mind when I think of the coup attempt.

      1. I grew up in Oklahoma where, in the ’50s, we were taught the Civil War was fought over states’ rights and the Confederate flag represented the South. Times have changed, of course, but that flag still doesn’t bother me nearly as much as those who now wave it as a symbol of their hate for the rest of us.

  3. We were taught the Lost Cause concept. While educationally it ignores much of the surrounding issues, reflecting on it as I got older taught me a great deal about politics.

    That said, the stupid part about these people waving that flag is that there was no one unifying Confederate flag.

    As for state’s rights, yes, but the right they wished to retain was holding other humans as chattel. I’m sure you know this though.

    The flag just represents so many flawed ideologies all in one.

    1. Actually, the states’ rights thing I was taught was the right to secede from the Union — explained as the agricultural South being different from the industrial North. So much about slavery was glossed over. Lost Cause pretty well summed it up. There was much more emphasis on the Trail of Tears, the Five Civilized Tribes, etc. In more modern times, I’d never even heard of the Greenwood massacre in Tulsa until recently.

      1. Check out my friend’s book, The Thibodaux Massacre, around a crime that happened near me.

        Our other nearby city found out that we had elected officials who were Black during the Reconstruction Era. I helped run down some of their photos, but my part in it was very small (I stayed out to write the piece). The credit mostly goes to the author of the aforementioned book John DeSantis who worked for the Sheriff’s office at the time:

        https://www.newsbreakapp.com/n/0XQwT8Uw?s=a99&pd=05OpvsXh

        The book and the Sheriff’s office thing are unrelated, except that DeSantis is a hell of an investigator.

  4. Yes, so the Lost Cause is the argument that the Confederacy was fighting the war against an oppressive federal government. Essentially the argument has its root, as best I found in my own readings, in the Federalist’s Papers (predecessors to the Constitution).

    Anyway, either Adams or Hamilton – I forget who – argued that states are their own soveriegn entities and power is given up to the federal government, not dispersed down.

    The Confederacy argued that they got to choose if they kept slaves and could not be dictated to be the federal government.

    This was for economic and political reasons, i.e. if they lost control of the slaves they couldn’t operate their plantations as cheaply, and the freed people would have voting power.

    I just summarized earlier by saying it ignores the fact that they were fighting to own people as property.

    1. I confess I’ve not been a great student of history in my adult years, and heaven only knows how much I’ve forgotten from my formal education some 60 years ago. I don’t recall hearing the term “Lost Cause” before, but the general idea sounds like states’ rights. Indeed, don’t we still argue in some cases about states’ rights vs. federal?

      1. All the time. California exercised its right during the Trump era by agreeing to the climate change deal separate from the US.

        Louisiana did it way back when it kept its legal drinking age at 18. Louisiana’s case is a good example because instead of challenging state’s rights, the federal government veased giving us tax dollars for our infrastructure and our State Reps caved.

        Another good example of the opposite is how marijuana is still illegal under the federal government, but legal in some states. The fed just chooses not to enforce the law.

        It’s a good thing to study up on because the Republican party is seeking to use state loopholes to influence elections. This is because states each choose how to do their votes independently of the federal government. This is why I find it silly that people from one state are getting up in arms about how elections are held in other states.

        Often, they don’t even know their own rules, much less another state’s.

        I’m not saying what Republicans are doing is wrong, I don’t know the particulars enough to say if it is or isn’t. I’m just saying that’s what they are doing. Politically it is clever too, since they just got a bunch of judges installed to interpret said laws.

        Democrats are trying to pass federal legislation to influence elections, and from what little I saw of their intentions, it seems okay.

        I’ll stress, when I say influence I don’t mean it with negative connotations, I just mean it in the matter-of-fact sense.

          1. We (Colorado) were one of the first states to legalize marijuana, so I’m well aware of that issue. And I can only marvel at 50 states using 50 different voting systems to come up with a single American president. What could possibly go wrong!? It’s a system begging to be exploited at every level.

          2. Maybe, but it has its advantages too. Having it decentralized means that it is harder to exploit as well. For instance, hackers can’t just attack one system because they are each on different systems, hardwares and softwares.

            By having each free to test different methods of voting, the others can adopt and change based off how well it succeeds. For instance: I think Chicago was doing ranked voting (Don’t quote me on the place, but someone is trying it out).

            Your state legislators craft the rules and your governor signs them into law. This means you have direct accountability for who is creating the rules.

            Finally, by not having set rules handed down from on high, each state can tailor the voting to the people it represents, so a place like Mississippi doesn’t feel as though it is being told how to carry out its voting process by New York. The landscape and the culture are different. The rules could be made to exploit this and thereby influence turnout.

          3. All true. Another example of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. They didn’t and couldn’t anticipate some of the issues we deal with today, but I think they did a fantastic job, all things considered.

          4. I think they intentionally left things vague and unanswered because they had faith in debate. Their foundation shows they knew the limits of their imagination so in our tripartiate government there is always a way to change everything.

            Hell, Congress could rewrite the entire Constitution tomorrow if they had the votes.

          5. Are our lives really that bad? Sure, there’s the threat looming nearby all the time. Sure, things could get better.

            The only real trajedy to befall us is the unneccessary loss of life due to this virus. It could have been mitigated far more than it was and I place the majority of that blame on one person.

            Outside of that, things aren’t that bad and had someone laid out a plan, even a bad one, things could have been better. That had nothing to do with gridlock.

            When the leaders are all in agreement it’s either because things are dire or because some group is getting screwed.

            I’m okay with gridlock for the most part. When they aren’t doing anything it means my life has consistency.

          6. There’s certainly something to be said for consistency, even if it results from nothing getting done in Washington. Nothing good being accomplished, but also nothing bad. All I can do is vote, and try not to stress too much between elections. I also got vaccinated and boosted and wear a mask, for myself and those around me. That so many people are dying unnecessarily due in large part to the lies of one person is … criminal.

... and that's my two cents