On Insurrection

It was always going to end here.

It was always going to end in violence. It was always going to end with our democracy in tatters and barely holding on. It was always going to end badly. Always.

It was always going to end here because of who Donald Trump is.

Donald Trump is a failure. A liar. A person who was turned hundreds of millions of his father’s dollars into multiple business failures, bankruptcies and Trump steaks. He has ruined everything he has ever touched. He is the single least morally, intellectually, or emotionally capable person ever elected to high office in this country. And that is a long list of deeply incapable men.

We all know who he is. We have known. We all saw the evidence. And millions - tens of millions - chose to ignore it. They called ignorance brilliant and weakness strength. They called moral failure character. They bought into the con. They fueled a monster. It was always going to end here.

It was always going to end here because of who his supporters are.

A huge swath of this country has lived under the sway of propaganda for an entire generation. They grew up and have lived with the divisive voices of Rush and Hannity. They watch only Fox News. They hear nothing that challenges their beliefs. They have been kept in constant fear for decades now. Told to fear terrorists and immigrants and Democrats. They have been told that the government was coming for the guns and that they would be thrown in FEMA concentration camps.

These lies were told by craven men who used disinformation to fuel their own power. Trump, McConnell, Gingrich, Cruz, Hawley. Even Boehner and Ryan. Even Mitt Romney and John McCain. They all cozied up to the fringe in some way or another. Because these aren’t fringe beliefs anymore. They are GOP dogma. They have been talked about openly and presented as the truth for decades. This is the culmination of a disinformation campaign that began long ago.

The people who violently stormed the Capitol have been told - for 30 or 40 YEARS - that their country is under siege. That their entire way of life is in peril. The last 4 years they have been told that the people who run the government, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley are in fact pedophiles who regularly kidnap, transport, and victimize children. They genuinely believe this. And if you believed that to be the absolute truth, why WOULDN’T you fight? It was always going to end here.

It was always going to end here because of who we are.

We are a country soaked in violence. Half of us proudly carry and display the flags of insurrectionists. I can’t even go to the grocery store in my liberal college town without seeing Gadsden Flags, Come and Take It stickers, or the stars and bars. We celebrate violence. Trump’s rhetoric wasn’t just violent on the 6th. His rhetoric has been violent dating back to the Central Park Five. Violence - and its instruments - is like a religion in this country.

And those of us who don’t worship at the altar of the NRA are either numb to the violence or sanitize it away. We live in a country where PRESCHOOLS have active shooter drills. Where 1st graders were massacred and nothing happened. No laws changed. No guns were banned. Nothing happened.

If we aren’t numb, then we actively seek to sanitize our violent tendencies. The actual Alexander Hamilton wasn’t singing bops about immigrants getting shit done. He was fighting for violent overthrow of the government and owning slaves. Our history isn’t heroic. It is violent as fuck. Our country was formed in violence and built with slave labor on stolen land. This is who we are.  We can’t ignore it or wish it away. We were always going to end up here.

It was always going to end up here because the United States of America is a country built and run on white supremacy. And when the white supremacist system is threatened by progress, it always responds with violence. Slavery was built on violent oppression. Slave owners knew they were outnumbered. The only way to maintain control was through fear. Slave patrols (the forerunners of modern policing) were a part of a system of violence that maintained the power and place of white institutions and white people. Jim Crow lynching, Wilmington (1898), Tulsa (1921), the bombing of the MOVE compound in Philadelphia (1985), and hundreds of other examples large and small show that there is an ongoing dedication to violent resistance when progress threatens white supremacy. When Trump lost, it was a reminder that justice always comes for white supremacists. And the system (and the people in it) responded with violence. It was always going to end this way.

It was always going to end here. Only, this isn’t the end. There will be more struggle. There may very well be more violence. The system is in peril. The people who benefit from it, and who fear the future, will respond as they always have. Their “success” on 1/6 will only embolden them. The only response to violent insurrection is to shut it down completely and hold those at every level accountable for their role in causing it.

I know that there is a strong desire to move on. We all want things to be “normal” again. Hard truth time: this IS normal. Violence is probably the most American of traits. It is ingrained in our history. It is part of our national character.

And despite all this, there can be healing. There can be reconciliation. We can find a way to bind our wounds and build a more just, equitable, and compassionate future for ourselves and those that follow us. However, the path to reconciliation is built on truth. Justice only exists with accountability.

We must demand truth. We must demand truth from our leaders. We must demand it from our institutions. And, perhaps most importantly, we must demand it from ourselves. We must hold ourselves accountable for seeking, sharing, and believing the truth. And we must never again allow ourselves to abide the idea that elections are without consequence or that there is any such thing as “alternative facts.”

Above all else, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to one another. All of us will always be smarter than one of us. We will always protect us. We will always bind one another’s wounds and carry one another’s burden.

Forward together. Not one step back. No matter what.