January 6, 2021

The breach of the Capitol of the United States was, first and foremost, a breach of the United States of America’s center of power. What I saw was the successful challenging of America’s authority, unstopped by a security force that did not seem to know where its allegiance lied. The police set up a barricade that the mob moved out of its way. In a baffling display of mixed signals, armed security officers clamored in intimidating black, actually invited, through their inaction, further inroads by emboldened insurrectionists. In every other instance, as we saw over the year past, the nation’s police acted without hesitation when it knew that it had President Trump’s backing. How different a scene we’re presented when they know they would be acting against those to whom Trump had given his blessing.

What the breach of the Capitol was not, was some cute display of civil disobedience. We did not watch just a few passionate patriots blowing off a little steam. The mob itself clearly didn’t anticipate making the progress that it did. Had any of them sincerely believed any of the lies that fueled them, they would have unleashed the destruction and chaos that “the swamp” is deserving of, as according to their message boards. They would have shown the strength that their leader requested of them. To see faux militias have the audacity to roam halls I consider worthy of respect, without showing an ounce of it for what the institution represents, is actually offensive to someone like me who believes in the promise of this country. I and every other immigrant whose parents looked up to this country and brought them here because of its stability and prosperity, left behind family and familiarity so that we might build something stronger and better here.

The last time I felt like this was on September 11, 2001. We had been in the country less than a year when I watched, from our apartment in Arlington, the Twin Towers burning on TV. Now, I can put myself in the shoes of recently arrived immigrants and sympathize with what they must be feeling and the questions they might have. Despite it all, the events and the aftermath and the way our lives changed afterwards, I would say this country is still worthy of your sacrifice. I am encouraged that there are at least some Republican elected officials who will not, in fact, let the insurrectionists off the hook. We all have faced personal frustration and uncertainty, money troubles and potential catastrophe. But you do not see the vast majority of Americans turning into a pack of savages who opt to replace the rule of law with the law of the wild. I am deeply disappointed in the people I know who have shown such a stunning and colossal loss of judgment, when they voted for Trump. I would be even more disappointed to know of those who voted for him twice. The sheer amount of comments, behaviors, and insinuations the man made before he became the Republican standard bearer were enough to disqualify him from any position of leadership or moral standing. Every red flag was dismissed; every affront was excused. All I can ask is that, if you voted for him, you reflect on what you gave up and lost to make room for such an obvious ogre. I urge you not to commit such an exercise of bad judgment again.

What we saw was not all fun and games. It wasn’t some cool thing to be a part of—no harm, no foul. Multiple people died. How surreal is it that the woman who died, the Trump loyalist, took a bullet to the neck and those around her tried to stop the bleeding by tying a Trump flag around the wound. I couldn’t ask for a more powerful symbol to demonstrate at once the result of Trump’s deadly rhetoric—and that of the crowd that accompanied her inside. I saw video of them being escorted out of the building in single file. Plenty of them cheered in triumph as they walked outside. None that I could tell were arrested. Very few actually were, per Muriel Bowser’s statement. This was a crowd we had seen in plenty of other places, certainly in Charlottesville, but even before then in every Trump rally, and every Trump rally after. They may not have believed they could so easily enter the Capitol, but they’ve been given plenty of passes in prior events that would inform their recklessness. Trump had been given complete leeway to say any and all manner of crazy nonsense. If there are no repercussions to the six senators who lodged objections, then future insurrectionist-wannabes will try to disguise any talk of sedition as an exercise in free speech, which would be another perversity I can’t imagine watching so soon. This is the time for accountability.

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