In the wake of recent widely publicized trial verdicts, I think it is instructive to consider how the response would have differed if the January 6 insurrectionists had been Black.
Suppose that, for instance, an African American candidate – such as Kamala Harris – narrowly lost a presidential election and questioned the validity of the results, after credible reports of voter suppression preventing large numbers of non-white voters from casting their ballots. Further suppose, however unlikely this might seem, that a large crowd of protestors, mostly African-American, showed up at the capital to object to the voter suppression tactics, which they feel flipped the outcome from what would have been a Kamala Harris victory, to a victory for the Republican candidate.
How would police, and the legal system, respond?
Of course, we are only in the realm of speculation here, but history suggests a much more proactive and vigorous police response. Perhaps if the protestors tried to breach the capitol, many of them would be killed or wounded by police. Arrests would likely be multitudinous and quick. Public outcry would be severe – not that it was not in the actual insurrection, but there is probably no chance that Democrats would subsequently characterize the incident as a “lovefest,” or a “tourist event.” Neither is there any real probability that, if the election appeared upon inspection, to have actually been fairly lost by the Democrat, approximately 2/3 of Democrats would remain convinced that the Democrat had actually won the election. Nor would the Democrat continue to talk crazily about overturning the election results.
What is happening now is unprecedented, and dangerous. It shows the destructive growth of racist, right-wing populism in the United States, and the power of a single right-wing populist leader to brainwash many millions of ignorant, predominantly white supporters, while making other politicians in his own party bend to his will. In fact, the United States has just been downgraded to the status of a “backsliding democracy,” for the first time in its history (https://www.theguardian.com/…/us-list-backsliding…). And one person, and his compliant political party, are responsible for this. Think about that. Never say “That can’t happen here,” because it is happening.
This never would have happened if the crowd of protestors had been predominantly Black. They would have gotten the Ahmaud Arbery treatment, most likely. As it is, the chief perpetrators of this abominable coup attempt, are getting the Kyle Rittenhouse treatment.
The sane public – that is, those who are not brainwashed by Republican propaganda – have a vital role to play in pursuing justice and the preservation of democracy. We need to hold those who planned and carried out this coup attempt, responsible. That includes all the Republicans who refused to certify the 2020 presidential election. It seems unlikely that we can disqualify these people from political office, unfortunately. However, we can publicize their deeds and help to vote them out of office at the next opportunity.
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