The Day After, Once Again.

We’re not getting any time to process this. The American government is still in place, but the damage is done, the insult complete. The assault on the Capitol building in Washington D.C. didn’t even get the dignity of having barbarians at the gate. It was carried out by people cosplaying as barbarians. Now it’s coming out that many of the rioters used their statuses as police officers and military veterans to get past the barricades.

It’s so difficult to figure out what I’m looking at here. Yes, there was a riot in the US Capitol. Yes, the rioters were disgruntled Trump supporters. They deserved to fail and get all the consequences this current system of government will afford them. Still, I feel like I’m playing this children’s story of what society is in my head, over and over again. It’s failing to explain all of this.

Is this a worker’s revolt? It doesn’t seem like it, the rioters were based out of the Hilton and flew in on their own dime. The body armor they wore doesn’t come cheap either. Is this the system trying to re-establish itself? If so, why did it fail so spectacularly? Where is this all leading?

There are lots of historical precedents for this. Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, Mussolini’s march on Rome, even the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, which was a turning point in establishing segregation in the American South. The coups in Wilmington and Rome succeeded, and the Beer Hall Putsch led to the prison sentence where Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf”.

The facts are still coming in, but I think one thing is clear: Our ignorance is catching up to us. I didn’t know about the Wilmington Massacre until this week, and I’ve only recently started reading books about white supremacy like “Policing Black Lives” by Robin Maynard or “So you want to talk about Race” by Ijeoma Oluo. If we acknowledged how our societies are built on taking land, labor, and rights away from people we deemed “uncivilized”, we would have had a stronger sense of why Donald Trump’s rioters were wrong and how Black Lives Matter is trying to make our society safer. If we had a better grasp on society as it is, rather than what we wished it was, none of this would have happened.

I want to make a special shout out to everyone who said something like this would happen and were written off as anxious. I for one thought this would end in a comedy chase scene across the Mar-a-lago golf course, but the reality is more unsettling. It’s as if irony is not only dead, but has been re-animated in some kind of uncanny facsimile. It takes more than just anxiety to make these predictions. It also takes imagination and curiosity, qualities we’ll need a lot more of to get us through this.