The Capitol riots: An American nightmare

The+Capitol+riots%3A+An+American+nightmare

By Evan Lu, Webmaster

“Trump supporters storm Capitol.” 

“Flash grenades, tear gas deployed on exterior Capitol balcony.” 

“Four dead, Congress evacuated, National Guard activated after riots.” 

Headlines like these may be expected in a third-world country fighting a grueling civil war, but I never imagined reading them about the United States, one of the most established and powerful nations in the world. This country, once a rock in a global sea of constantly-changing nations and governments, now appears to be in a state of tottering instability, about to spontaneously combust into flames.

The storming of the Capitol building by pro-Trump rioters, a desperate attempt to disrupt the counting of electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election, was a disgrace to American values. The first breach of the U.S. Capitol since the War of 1812 over 200 years ago, these riots demonstrated the failure of our electoral system to define and enforce the winner of an election. For the first time in history, the Confederate flag marched into the heart of the American nation, a gesture dishonoring the sacrifices of the Civil War patriots who fought so valiantly to prevent that flag from ever being raised in the capital. The shocking image of a rioter in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s chair signifies the rampant disrespect for those with differing views. The stark contrast between the treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters and Capitol rioters highlights the pervasive hypocrisy and willingness of our politicians’ to bend moral consistency in order to satisfy a political agenda and appease a voter base. But beyond the symbolic significance of the riots, five American lives were lost, government property was defaced and the lives of our country’s leaders were put in danger.

The blame for the scuffle cannot be attributed to a single person, but former President Trump’s refusal to concede defeat after the election, citing unproven evidence of widespread electoral fraud, helped incite the violence. Coupled with his unrelenting, childish tweets that only poured fuel into the fire, the former president undoubtedly exacerbated the antagonism between the opposing sides of the political spectrum. Now, Trump must face the consequences of his actions and bear the dreadful weight of his role in dividing a nation.

Not only must the president reevaluate his actions, but the entirety of America must consider how these riots were allowed to happen. These events are an embarrassment to the global reputation that America holds so dear and threaten to tarnish the public image of strength and integrity that is core to the American identity. How can we claim to be the leaders of the free world when our government neglects to defend our capital against unruly mobs? How can we call ourselves the protectors of democracy when we fail to abide by one of its most fundamental cornerstones: the popular election? The deterioration of the democratic system is a one-way street, slowly winding down towards a highly disfavorable outcome. 

At the threshold of significant violence, political affiliations and biases must disappear, and basic human principles of respect, honor and decency must shine through. The riots in Washington, D.C. completely obliterated this threshold, crossing the proverbial line. It is time to realize that violence is not an acceptable response to a disfavorable election result, regardless of residual anger, frustration or disbelief. It is time to reinitiate a civil discussion and reach compromises on the many issues that still face us today. It is time to recognize reality and put aside our differences, no matter how glaring, to rediscover our hidden yet bountiful similarities.

It is time to awake from this American nightmare.