They’re snapshots that encapsulate a feeling more than an event. Fear, watching the first Gulf War on the living room floor with my parents; immense heartbreak and anger watching the Twin Towers falling in my beloved New York City; unbridled joy watching gay marriage legalized at the Supreme Court.
But what is happening today is a new and malign kind of stunning. I will never forget this: Americans storming the United States Capitol in what can only be described as a coup attempt, a Trump supporter pictured standing at the Senate dais, and one jaw-dropping image of police pointing guns at the House front door from inside as a demonstrator appeared to be trying to breach the chamber. As I write this there is a report of multiple injuries, including police transported to the hospital.
I will never forget the utter sadness over our divided, fragile democracy that one man has tried so desperately to cleave in half for his own corrupt, narcissistic and craven self-interest.
These people, most offensively, purport to be “patriots” as they attack Capitol police, threaten the safety of US lawmakers, staff and building officials and look to overturn a democratic, free and fair presidential election — which they cannot do, no matter how much havoc they wreak.
The man — I will not even write his name — sought this. The man who demanded this very reaction when he refused to accept the election results and commit to a peaceful transition of power, egging on the crowd he’d urged to descend on the Capitol on Wednesday to overturn the election. The man who tweeted a far-too-late message to his followers to “stay peaceful,” only AFTER they’d breached the Capitol building and flew past security to flood the halls in protest, sending lawmakers fleeing with gas masks and go-bags, causing the vice president to be evacuated from the building and prompting an armed standoff at the gates.
But this is exactly what the man wanted in the end: chaos, disruption, nihilism. This ugly, un-American, lawless, seditionist act of petulance and violence is his final outgoing message to America: “Go ahead, burn it down. See if I care.”
He doesn’t. He never did. And he’s convinced millions of Americans that this sick version of “patriotism,” which exists only to avenge his irrational grievances, is moral and just and in fact “good” for the country.
None of this is good for the country. Tearing down democracy, taking America to the brink of anarchy, attempting a bloodless coup on the Capitol is a new nadir, a pathetic and disturbing decrescendo to a horrible era of self-destruction.
Whatever happens today, I know I’ll never forget these horrifying images and the overwhelming feeling of despair that accompanied them. It’s a very sad day for America — one that I deeply hope doesn’t end in tragedy. Though, perhaps, it already has.
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