Slice of Life

Initial Reactions to January 6, 2021 Capitol Hill Invasion

This image was given courtesy of a friend and professional photographer, Alex Kent. Please visit alex-kent.com or @not_alex_kent on IG for more of his amazing work.

With the United States on the brink of its Second Civil War (I’m gonna go ahead and call it and capitalize it, we’ll see it in the history books soon enough), I’m trying to gather as much information as possible from the last year in order to make a cohesive, educated assessment of what happened January 6th at the DC Capitol building.

I, like many other Americans, have blotted out this presidency. Frankly, it was easier to live in a world ignorant of the hate mongering spewed by our Chief than to keep up with the daily heartbreaks. It was like background noise while you study – it’s there, you know it’s there, no one’s claiming it’s not, but it’s not what I’m focusing on currently.

Admittedly, it’s also how I’ve treated BLM since 2016 as well.

I was tired. Emotionally deficit and had no more of myself to give.

I’m not proud of this by any means. I wholeheartedly stand with black and brown peoples, but I’ve taken a silent knee and I have to recognize that. I’ve also taken a silent knee to this administration in order to keep myself in a safe mental space. I’m not as delicate as some, but chronic depression is a motherfucker. I had to do something, so I cut off all emotional ties (and therefore my “responsibilities”) to the world around me.

It worked like a charm. I was able to remain ignorant to the opinions of my friends, family, coworkers, and even strangers. I could continue those relationships, as the fear of losing them (or my job) constantly rested on the ability to remain ignorant.

Again: not proud of how I’ve silently chosen to be part of the problem.

As I sit here, eating up articles and videos of yesterday’s raid, I’m anxiously unsurprised. Is this now what Trump supporters have been saying they’ll do?

An Irish Times reporter, Fintan O’Toole nailed it when he wrote, “This was not a moment of madness. It was a show for which Trump had been running trailers for at least a year.” So glad to get confirmation from the outside of our American Dumpster Fire that others also recognize the lunacy. Otherwise, how else could we confirm the pink elephants are on parade?

While I’m still taking time to gather my thoughts and write down my real reaction statement, I needed to ask my father for his. “As a white, American man of a certain age, who is a retired veteran, a retired National Guardsman, and who voted for Trump, what is your opinion of yesterday’s seizure of the Capital?”

A few things struck me in his answer. I’m obviously paraphrasing, and I look forward to a later conversation where he and I can flesh out a few points.

“There are certain aspects of the protest I can agree with.” He was unable or unwilling to give specifics, but he was walking out the door to leave, so I didn’t push.

“But vandalism, breaking and entering, and hurting people I can’t agree with.” He has this same stance on all protests, it seems, as we had a BLM talk a few months ago.

What struck me dumbfound was what I thought was a tangent, “I don’t agree with the electoral college. Why do I work and send my daughter to college and her vote is worth more than mine? That’s not right and it doesn’t make sense.” My dad’s spent his whole life not knowing what the electoral college is or how it functions? He fought in two wars for a government he doesn’t understand? I genuinely couldn’t tell if this was ignorance or, to put it bluntly, age getting to my father. I wanted to correct this misstep in the conversation, but stood silent as he made a real tangent into the Nashville bombing.

Again, I look forward to a lengthier discussion with him, but I genuinely believe the average American person is dumb (or numb) to what is happening in our country. I willingly so, I’ve admitted to it. After “grab ‘em by the pussy ” surfaced, I turned my ears off and kept my head down, especially as my family did not support my angry disappointment.

In 2016, had a blow out with my parents and literally had to explain why black, brown, queer, transgender, immigrant, muslim, and female Americans were scared to simply live their lives. I had to explain how I, their daughter, was scared to be a queer woman and to be alone and live alone and navigate the world alone when the highest administration of the country advocated violence against the groups I represent, set aside the vast majority that are groups I don’t represent.

They genuinely did not make the connection to my fear and Trump’s speeches. What did I have to do with that? How could my small life possibly be affected by something way over there in DC?

In the mind of the American people, our federal government is almost unreal – it’s wholly intangible and more/less has nothing to do with us. It’s like studying political history – it’s tedious and usually not driven by the people but by the rulers.

I’m willing to believe this is just how I’ve been brought up and that there are more active, more vocal families out there who believe the federal government means and does something.

What I continue to soothe myself with is the reflection that we are a young country that’s riddled with cultural/social/economic problems that we just haven’t sussed out yet. Older countries look in on us, slapping each other on the back saying, “I remember when I was a teenager.” It’s the only thing that keeps me calm, honestly. We’ll have to have another civil war or two to get shit aligned for all of us (and I do mean all, not just the wealthy or the male or the white or whatever other adjective that inherently denotes power for the sake of having this run-on sentence be done). It’s taken other countries several more generations than we have to get to where they are, and they’re not totally perfect, but they’re functioning for their contemporaries. We’ve got to get there first – functioning for the contemporaries.

We’re not there yet.

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