They thought it couldn’t happen here. But so did many other nations before America.
Walking through the halls of the snow-covered US Capitol Thursday afternoon, a year past the time since he was raped on a fascist impulse, it was hard to imagine the mob making a riot: beating up the police, making Flaunting the Confederate flag and abusing a black officer with the n-word.
But yes, it happened here.
The cathedral of American democracy was poorly attended and eerily silenced for the anniversary, in part because the coronavirus is so widespread in Washington. Climb a ladder and you may see a lone reporter bringing coffee. Turn down a marble hallway and you can see a lone Capitol police officer – was he among those who fought and bled that day?
Republicans were particularly hard to find, their absence illustrating radically different interpretations of what happened on January 6, 2021, or as one headline put it: “A national day of infamy, half remembered.” It was clear that the United States could not decide whether it was a political fight or a national tragedy, a moment of furious polarization or a unified duel. It didn’t feel like catharsis.
Vice President Kamala Harris started it shortly after 9 a.m. M. pointing to “Dates that occupy not just a place in our calendars, but a place in our collective memory,” citing December 7, 1941, September 11, 2001, and January 6, 2021.
But while the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought Americans together to fight in WWII, and the terror attacks in New York and Washington sparked rare solidarity, the deadly siege of the Capitol turns out to be just another wedge in divided states. from America. .
And unlike those earlier calamities, the 220-plus-year-old Capitol has few visible scars from the day windows were smashed, Congressional offices ransacked, and feces were left on the ground. Without a tangible reminder, it is easier to deny reality or forget. Instead, the scars are psychological and institutional; the bleeding is internal.
Harris was followed by Joe Biden, whose sweeping speech offered his most vivid critique yet of his predecessor Donald Trump’s big lie about the 2020 election and mob incitement. For the president it was an epiphany of not negotiating with terrorists on the limits of bipartisanship.
“I didn’t look for this fight brought to this Capitol a year ago today, but I’m not going to shy away from it either,” said Biden, unexpectedly at 79, discovering his inner Henry V and anticipating his Election campaign 2024. “I will stay in this gap. I will defend this nation. And I will not allow anyone to put a dagger to the neck of our democracy. “
But it was the details of that day, the sound of gunfire, narrow escapes, messages to loved ones, that struck a chord and stayed. They were bulwarks against attempts to rewrite history and supplant it with a false narrative.
These details were recalled by the senators who spoke in the chamber that had been invaded by rioters as Jacob chansley who, wearing a Viking hat and six-foot spear, climbed the stage and took the seat that Mike Pence had occupied an hour earlier, proclaiming, “Mike Pence is a fucking traitor” and writing, “It’s just a matter of time.” . . Justice is coming! “
There was Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, who had only been on camera for 45 minutes, watching the ballot count begin, when a policeman armed with a large bulletproof vest grabbed him firmly by the neck. ” I’ll never forget that grip. ” he said. “And he told me: ‘Senator, we have to get out of here, he’s in danger.’
Schumer was within 30 feet of “these nasty, racist, bigoted insurgents,” story. “If someone had had a gun, two of them would have blocked the door, who knows what would have happened. I was later told that one of them reportedly said, ‘There is the great Jew.’ We’re going for it. ‘ Intolerance against one is intolerance against all. “
Senator Amy Klobuchar I also had indelible memories being evacuated from the chamber. “I remember the words of a staff member who yelled, ‘Take the boxes. Take the boxes. She spoke of the mahogany ballot boxes that were filled with the electoral ballots, because we knew that they would destroy them if they left them ”.
He remembered how his staff hid in a cupboard with only forks for protection, next to the doors through which the insurgents had invaded. He remembered the cuts on the faces of the police officers. And he remembered Officer Harry Dunn, who had been called the n-word several times, looked at his friend as they collapsed in the roundabout and asked, “Is this America? Is this America?
In the House of Representatives, where 20 members had to take refuge in the gallery that day, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, presided over a moment of silence. Tellingly, there were only two Republicans on the court: former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, dying the embers of the party’s anti-Trump resistance.
Dick Cheney said in a statement that he is “deeply disappointed that many members of my party do not recognize the seriousness of the January 6 attacks and the continuing threat to our nation.”
That failure was manifested in the decision of Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy to stay away from Washington. The Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s office had a sign that read, “Thank You, Police Heroes from the US Capitol,” but it was opened to reveal a staff member and a television showing reruns of the riots, but there was no sign of the congressman.
Trump had canceled a press conference but there were two Republicans who could not resist the limelight. In a tiny room (for which they inevitably blamed Pelosi), Trump’s acolytes Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene He made unfounded conspiracy theories about the FBI’s involvement in the deadly attack. Gaetz insisted: “We did not want the Republican voice to go unnoticed today.”
Greene played the all too familiar card of whataboutism. Don’t forget, he said, that Senator Bernie Sanders thinks the 2016 Democratic primary was stolen, and Hillary Clinton thinks the 2016 general election was stolen. “If Democrats cared about the riots, they would have worried about the riots in Antifa-BLM nationwide in 2020. “
When a journalist challenged Gaetz about Biden’s memorable image of a dagger to the neck of democracy, the Florida congressman insisted: “We are here to reclaim our democracy.”
That’s the twist: The massive deception behind Trump’s big lie is that his followers believe they are saving democracy rather than destroying it. Republicans are imposing voter restriction laws and are seeking to put Trump loyalists in charge of conducting the election. The next assault on the republic is unlikely to be as clumsy or crude as January 6.
Thursday’s commemorations ended with a prayer vigil on the steps of the United States Capitol. Two decades ago, on September 11, Democrats and Republicans were side by side here and he sang “God bless America.” This time, holding candles and wearing masks as the US Navy Band played, the Democrats once again rose to their feet and sang “God Bless America.” This time, there were no Republicans.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism