“This is not who we are,” says Americans after the riot at the Capitol

Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol building and raise a variety of flags
Lev Radin / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images

Jan. 14, 2021

WASHINGTON –– This was the phrase many journalists, politicians, and citizens said after Trump supporters broke into the Capitol last Tuesday.

“It’s surreal, it feels like I’m talking to a correspondent reporting from Bogota,” said Jake Tapper, a CNN anchor.

“The scenes of chaos of the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are,” said President-elect Joe Biden.

“There is nothing patriotic about what is occurring on Capitol Hill. This is 3rd world style anti-American Anarchy,” said Sen. Marco Rubio.

These statements ignore the truth of America’s history. We are a nation built from wars, riots, slavery, and occupation. Saying these things reinforces the belief that insurrections only happen in “third-world countries.” In fact, these statements are imperialist and erase the numerous coups America has inflicted on said countries. The riot at the Capitol reaffirmed that this is who we are.

Last Tuesday morning, Trump spoke to his supporters saying, “…you have to get your people to fight and if they don’t fight we have to primary the hell out of the ones who don’t fight. We’re gonna let you know who they are –– I can already tell you though frankly…” This speech targeted Republicans who he “helped get elected,” Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and even his own Vice President, Mike Pence.

Trump praised Sen. Ted Cruz and Congressman Jim Jordan for siding with him in delaying the certification of the electoral college results. In fact, Cruz specifically said he would want a 10-day audit of the electoral college results before making any final decision. Both Cruz and Jordan joined Trump to push false allegations of election fraud.

Both the speech and Trump’s allies in congress incited the riots. He may not have explicitly told his supporters to destroy the Capitol and hurt law enforcement, but he did imply it. Some legal scholars say his speech was not protected by the first amendment because of incitement but others say it was and cited the Supreme Court case Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969).

Trump has used these dog whistles to rile his base. From calling Mexicans “rapists” to saying “very fine people on both sides” in response to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Since the riot at the Capitol, five people were killed including a Capitol police officer. Many social media companies banned Trump from using their platforms, including his favorite one –– Twitter.

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for the second time. Before the impeachment proceedings, Trump walked back his words by calling for “peace” and “no violence.” He is the first president of the United States to be impeached twice.

Op-Ed by Tama Moni

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