To the Editor:
What happened on Jan. 6, far from aberration, was a capturing of themes in American history in 24 hours. Amazing, beautiful things happened. Propelled, as always in American history, by tireless, courageous, long view organizing (led by Black women), a Black preacher and a young Jewish man were elected to the Senate in Georgia. Cheers! White supremacy does not have the last word! Our nation can move towards a fuller, more plural, more expansive democracy!
Fast forward a few hours and white mobs, encouraged by the president, violently stormed the Capitol, attempting to stop a democratic transfer of power. Police stood by. Some opened gates and took selfies. None of the helicopters, armored vehicles and shows of force we saw this summer, when Black people demanded to be allowed to live, were present. This was a thoroughly anti-democratic moment, borne of the worst white supremacist impulses in American history.
I encourage us all to refrain from the saying “this is not who we are” or “like a third world country.” Both events of Jan. 6 are exactly who we are and have always been: A nation of fearless organizers, striving towards liberation, democracy, racial justice and a more perfect union even when it seems impossible. A nation of white supremacist thugs willing to stop at nothing to maintain a deluded vision of racial hierarchy (see the Civil War, Jim Crow, Native American removal policies, sundown towns).
It is up to each of us which vision prevails.