The Modern American Insurrection Attempt Celebrates Its Half Birthday

Capitol Rioters outside the Old Executive Office Building of the White House; Washington, DC; photo taken by author

By the time I publish this, the day will probably be over. July 6, 2021. It’s two days after we celebrate American Independence Day and six months, to the day, since an angry group of mostly white, most male Americans tried to overthrow our government. And, it’s been exactly six months since the current Republican leadership in Congress have done anything to hold these people to account. It feels like an occasion that should be remembered.

Six months ago, the night before January 6th, my husband and I debated the merits of going downtown to our daughter’s orthodontist appointment because of the large number of Trump supporters in town. We knew those in town were angry, often violent, and often racist. We knew that encountering them wouldn’t be something we relished, but as white people, our privilege meant that we probably wouldn’t get harassed. We had not considered any scenarios that were even close to what actually happened.

That day, as Washington, DC went into lockdown mode, I watched in horror as violent hordes of domestic terrorists stormed past the Capitol Police barricades. I watched as they broke windows, urinated in the halls, broke into offices, and the floor of the House of Representatives. I listened to them call out menacingly for female Congresspeople. I cried as the scenes of violence unfolded, the beating of police officers, both Capitol Police and the DC Metropolitan Police. I was terrified for, and immensely in awe of, Officer Eugene Goodman who took on an entire group of insurrectionists, leading them away from Congressional leaders. I felt physically ill when we learned that a gallows had been constructed on the lawn of the Capitol building because some were hoping to lynch lawmakers they didn’t like. I worried while my husband worked his way home from his office. I fielded concerned calls and texts from friends and families all over the world as they, too, watched the news of the world’s most stable democracy descending into violence.

Later that night, after the violence was quelled, Congress returned to their session and certified the 2020 election results that declared Joe Biden president-elect. Prior to the certification, a variety of Congressional leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made impassioned speeches about the sanctity of the electoral process and duty to serve our government.

Six months later, GOP Congresspeople continue to tell the American public that what happened was nothing more than a group of tourists on a Capitol tour. After first saying that former President Trump was responsible for the insurrection, they now say that he had nothing to do with it. They refuse to meet with officers who were severely injured during the attack and make snide remarks about and smirk at the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for our military as he explains why we need to know about white rage and its place in the January 6th attack. They shoot down attempts by Senate leadership to create an independent commission to study the events of this horrible day. They’re trying to make a martyr of the woman killed that day by a Capitol Police officer as she committed violent crimes.

Between the pandemic, police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the election, 2020 was a painful year for our country. 2021 won’t be much different if we don’t hold all of those responsible for the events of January 6th accountable. Insurrectionists have been, and continue to be arrested, as they should be. We have yet to arrest any politician involved in the incitement of this violent attack. They are as culpable as the Americans who actually did the attacking because they knew they were riling up an already angry crowd. And, their actions since that day, their nonchalance about their actions, and their unwavering refrain that their words were just words shows their disregard for what happened that day. They believe they are above the law.

Two days ago we celebrated the day our fledgling country declared its independence from a tyrant king. Today, we celebrate the half birthday of the Modern American Insurrection Attempt, the day a group of angry, delusional Americans’ tried to overthrow the government and install a tyrant wannabe into office despite his losing the election. Today, we celebrate the further division of our country by a party bent on ruling by fear and loathing.

I believe we can get better. But, we must have better leaders; leaders in Congress who encourage their party members to govern rather than tread water until the next election, believe in their promise to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, and who care about both America and all Americans, even those that disagree with them.