Monday, August 8

Assault on the Capitol: the open wound that bleeds the United States

  • Assault on the Capitol When a member of QAnon disguised as a bison presided over the US Senate

His name was Juan and he was wearing the perfect uniform of the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers or the Three Percenters: bulletproof vest with the words “USA Patriot”Rionera with several pockets, ski masks and, above it, a Greco-Latin style helmet with a red plume of feathers that gave her an air as if she had come out of a Greek tragedy performance.

This mixture of war garb with folkloric touches is one of the signs of identity of some members of the violent groups mentioned above to whom Donald Trump had already asked support before the elections, on September 30, when the president, in A televised debate said, “Proud Boys: Stay out and stay tuned.”

On January 6, 2021, Juan appeared neither attentive nor, despite his attire, violent. Nor did the more than 20,000 people – by eye – who were listening to Trump and his allies on the Mall, the Washington park at one end, about three kilometers in a straight line from the rally, the two were gathered. cameras of Congress to ratify the results of the elections held on November 6.

The general tone of the crowd was rather depressed. The general feeling was that the president had lost. The day did not indicate anywhere that it was going to go to the history books. No one could imagine that in just under an hour something would happen that, a year later, ended up creating the entrance “Second US Civil War” on Wikipedia, and the publication of two best-selling books predicting such a conflict.

And, who least allows us to predict it, was Juan himself. The Trump supporter, inside his armor, his balaclava and his helmet, and after a trip by car “with a group” – without specifying more – from Lebanon County, in Pennsylvania, about three hours from Washington, did not seem enthusiastic. “I hope that something happens in Congress. I hope that what we want to happen will happen. That it be recognized that there has been a great level of fraud in these elections and that the necessary measures be taken to protect the will of the people,” he explained with little conviction in perfect Spanish with inflections from his native Puerto Rico, paying no attention to Trump.

An hour later, 800 Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Was Juan one of them? It is impossible to know. There are four Proud Boys, 16 Oath Keepers and six Three Percenters indicted or tried for the attack, although the United States Justice itself has recognized that more than 100 members of these three groups probably participated.

In total, more than 700 people have been charged. Of these, 150 have pleaded guilty. But only 71 have been convicted. The average sentence they have received is only 45 days in prison, according to the ‘Politico’ website. This is due to the attitude of the Prosecutor, who in most trials describes the assault as an insurrection and then offers the defendants to drop all charges against them if they agree to plead guilty to entering a public building. without authorization. To the judges, this attitude of the public ministry despairs them. The Chief Justice of Washington, Beryl Howell, has called the prosecutors’ strategy “almost schizophrenic.”

In reality, the schizophrenia denounced by Howell should not be limited to prosecutors, but spread throughout the United States. The greatest power in the world today is divided into tribes that hate and despise each other. And nothing better to verify this than the attitude of public opinion in relation to the assault on the Capitol, with its four deaths, and its images of “the banana republic”, in the words of former President George W. Bush.

60% of Americans believe that Donald Trump has “a lot” or “a lot” of responsibility in the assault. Among Republicans, that percentage drops to 28%. If only Donald Trump voters are counted, the figure is just 17%. One in four voters of that party supports the insurrection. If one takes into account that Donald Trump got 74 million votes, more than 18 million people come out in favor of the violent acts of January 6, 2021.

These figures, which come from online polls conducted by Momentive and YouGov for the Axios website and the CBS television network, are reproduced inverted, as if it were a mirror, among Democratic voters and Joe Biden. The assault on Congress was thus a heroic act, perhaps wrong, but with good intentions – 56% of Republicans believe that the motivation of the assailants was “to defend freedom” – or an attempted coup.

Juan’s vision, which he himself summed up to EL MUNDO by saying that “I am here supporting the president and supporting the struggle to maintain the Constitution,” is shared by most of his co-religionists. For many Democrats, however, the Puerto Rican is nothing more than a fascist, a seditious, and, presumably, a racist as well. Thus, it is about the gravest political crisis since 161 years ago the US split in two when the southern states proclaimed secession so that no one could propose the abolition of slavery in the future. A year has passed since the assault and the distance between the defenders and critics of the invasion of what could be qualified as the equivalent of Parliament has not only not been reduced, but has become abysmal. Which leads, once again, to the Civil War of 1861 to 1865. Every day it has become more common to talk that the United States is heading for such a conflict.

Towards the second Civil War?

Next Tuesday, the political scientist and advisor to the CIA Barbara F. Walter publishes his book How Civil Wars Begin, with a provocative thesis explained by ‘Washington Post’ columnist Dana Milbank in an article entitled “We are closer to a civil war than we think.” For Walter, “if you were an analyst from a foreign country who observed the situation in the United States, as if it were in Ukraine, Ivory Coast, or Venezuela, and you go looking point by point, evaluating the situation, you will see that the United States, which is a democracy founded more than 200 years ago has entered very dangerous terrain. “

Walter is not afraid a classic civil war in a country with nearly 6,000 atomic bombs. But it is a period of violence with a population that has more firearms than the rest of the countries of the world combined.

As indications of that situation, he cites the assault on the Capitol, the killings of Jews, blacks and Hispanics in recent years, and the attempted kidnapping of the Democratic governor of Michigan by Republican fanatics who oppose the Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020. .

But that analysis, nevertheless, is a seal of faccionalismo and the absence of dialogue in the country, because it ignores the dozens of deaths from the 2020 race riots and looting, and the 2017 attack in which a supporter of the left-wing Democrat Bernie Sanders murdered a policeman and seriously injured the man. Republican ‘number two’ in the House of Representatives, Steve Scalise.

In September, the world’s most influential think tank, the Brookings Institution, held a debate with the title “Is America headed for a second Civil War?” and last month, the Canadian writer Stephen Marche published the book ‘The next civil war. Chronicles from America’s Future ‘. Because it’s not just about something intellectual. A 2019 poll by Republican consulting firm Rasmussen revealed that 31% of Americans consider it “likely” that the country “will experience a civil war in five years.”

One year before, the conservative historian Victor Davis Hanson, of the ‘think tank’ Hoover Institution, had wondered in ‘The National Interest’, which is one of the magazines that set the tone for the Republican Party: civil war?”

They are reflections that just a few years ago would have been inconceivable. Civil war in the USA? Assault on the Capitol? A president who refuses to carry out a peaceful transfer of power? They are also unanswered questions, the symbol of a giant that has sustained the world for seven decades, which is the idea of ​​democracy in the US, if not fallen, it is questioned. Because, as Volodimir Zelensky, president of a country, Ukraine, who has experienced several assaults on its own Congress, summed up, “it is difficult to see the United States as a symbol of democracy after the assault on the Capitol.”

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