today in black history

July 19, 2024

Writer and social critic Alice Dunbar Nelson was born in 1875 and helped shaped the Harlem Renaissance.

Trump's White Riot

POSTED: January 10, 2021, 1:00 pm

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It would be a disservice to the truth to sugarcoat what occurred in the nation’s capital on Wednesday January 6, 2021. It was a White riot and an attempted coup of the government of the United States of America. The violence perpetuated by an overwhelmingly White mob, with a splattering of complicit and ignorant Blacks, was inspired by the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, and his co-conspirators, Rudy Giuliani, Senator Ted Cruz, and Senator Josh Hawley. The attack on the United States Capitol was an inside job; a well-orchestrated plot to overtake Congress by force to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election. Every person who forcefully entered the Capitol and who stood on the Capitol grounds with intent to sow confusion is responsible for the deaths that occurred as a result of their criminal behavior. This was an act of domestic terrorism.

Though a formal investigation of this riot is necessary, we already know a few facts that should lead to the prosecution of Donald Trump and those Republicans who enabled the riotous mob. The first fact is that Trump had been stirring the pot for weeks since his loss to Joe Biden; claiming, with no evidence, that the November election was rigged. He used the airwaves to spread that lie and official White House communications channels. He used the federal courts to file dozens of frivolous claims and used his office to threaten state election personnel and elected officials. This was no covert effort. It was all done in full public view with little to no pushback from Republicans. His political party, that now operates as a cult, allowed his behavior, and showed no interest to uphold the Constitution they hypocritically use as a tool they use to feign patriotism.

We also know that the Capitol Hill police department was compromised and that its leadership did not prepare for the violence that many of us knew would occur when pro-Trump forces assembled in the capital. Officers were outnumbered and overwhelmed, and out-gunned. The leadership of the department is either incompetent or complicit. For certain, the security breach we witnessed in what had been one of the most secure buildings in America could not have been a coincidence. The degree to which the Capitol Hill police were overrun and images of police facilitating the entry of the mob into the Capitol points to this being an inside job. It was an insurrection orchestrated from within our government. That reality alone should make Americans painfully aware that our government is on thin ice.

Likewise, we also know that Donald Trump aided and abetted this riot not just by his words, but by his deeds. He fired up his supporters to descend upon the Capitol and told them he would lead the way, but instead, retreated like a coward to the secure confines of the White House. His consigliore Rudy Giuliani urged the crowd to engage in ‘combat’ and lied to the mob concerning the authority of the vice president to alter the outcome of the presidential election. Beyond their inciting the mob to riot, Trump also made certain the Capitol would be a soft target by refusing to authorize the National Guard to provide support to the Capitol Hill police. He didn’t even do so when it became known that Vice President Pence was in danger and Trump never communicated with his vice president during the siege. It makes one question whether Trump wanted to see his vice president killed by the mob. It would take District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser to send in the city police and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to send state police into the District to help quell the mob.

What we must question is whether Russia had a role in this attempt to overthrow our government. The cyber attack upon our government that took place just a week before the riot, and that our intelligence agencies point the finger at Russia, drew no condemnation from Trump. In fact, he sought to distract the nation’s attention by again using China as a red herring. What we do know for certain is that Donald Trump has an allegiance to Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin that is rooted in either his owing some sizeable financial debt or his working as an agent of the Russian government. It is hard to believe that the cyber attack and the White riot at the Capitol are not connected. Trump’s past behavior and his adulation of all things Putin should raise suspicions among Homeland Security officials.

The White Riot falls within the spectrum of previous instances of White violence in our nation’s history. This was not some unique event. It was consistent with the behavior of Whites when their political dominance has been threatened. Beginning with the enslavement of Africans, Whites in America have used violence to maintain power. This was the case during the Civil War and the rise of the Confederacy. It was the case when the Black Codes sought to extend White supremacy and when Jim Crow preserved White privilege. The pent up White rage on display in the Capitol was decades of frustration at being unable to dislodge the ascendancy of Black and brown people in the United States, and the rising xenophobia over the migration of non-White people into the country. The White riot was rooted in fear and anger.

The necessity for Black people at this time is to understand this moment and to move forward prepared and with an understanding that there is a current of whiteness in America that is willing to die to maintain power. It does not end with the siege at the Capitol and Blacks must be prepared for attacks in their state capitals and local communities. Still, the Black community has a network of institutions, collective ability, and strengths to suppress this White rebellion. Every able-bodied Black person needs to be conscious at this time and ready to defend family and community, and support each other with the intent of crushing White mob rule.

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