Is this America?
Updated: Jan 9
Our flag. The symbol of the American spirit.
It represents freedom and the Ideal of Democracy and the Democratic process.
It represents the sacrifice of our servicemen and women as well as the blood we’ve drawn from our own brothers and sisters in our imperfect quest to form a more perfect union.
Burning the flag in protest is, at best, a symbolic act representing the destruction of that Ideal. And in my opinion deeply dangerous.
That said... The flag is still a symbol.
And, like it or not, agree with it or not, any otherwise peaceful act involving the flag, whether it's kneeling during the anthem or burning it in the streets is in fact, woven into its fabric.
The symbol is meaningless and threadbare.
The Nation's Capitol, on the other hand, is literally and physically the home of that Ideal. It is the physical embodiment of our way of life. The actual place that bears out our system of government. The very place where we seek to enable and evoke and protect the American Dream.
It bears witness to our imperfect quest. Yes, it is at times a stage and the actors inside… Imperfect Fools.
But it is still OUR Capitol.
It isn’t Walmart. Or Target. Or Best Buy.
It isn’t your church, your synagogue, or your mosque.
It isn’t your school, your hospital, or your police department.
It isn’t your city, your state, or even your home.
It is, in fact, and function… ALL of those things.
It is, along with the White House… Our. National. Home.
It has been suggested by many that the events of these past few days have been warranted. That the anger and anguish felt by many Americans over, as of yet unfounded accusations of a fraudulent election, has given them cause to forcefully and violently enter that home in an attempt to overturn those results.
It has been implied that those actions are equivalent to, and no less damaging than the violent and destructive riots that occurred this past summer.
It has been implied, without merit and without fact as examined under the scrutiny of due process that the actions of the men and women who breached the capital doors were necessary to protect the state of our union.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Violent protest, looting, civil unrest, and bloodshed, although deeply disturbing, has long been part and parcel of our Democracy.
Freedom, after all, is worth fighting for. And in many cases, worth dying for.
The difference between what happened in our nation's home and the violent, often racially driven protests of the past is one of substance and purpose.
One of desired outcome.
Protests that devolve into looting, property damage, and bloodshed are never completely justified, one above another. This brand of violence often seeks only to devour itself and everything in its path.
There is, however, an important distinction to be made. One that must be understood at all costs.
That distinction lies in the tinder that fuels these events, in the spark that ignites their violent flames.
One is born of oppression, inequality, and injustice. It is born of anguish and anger and violent, often deadly consequence. It is born of decade upon decade of mistrust and abuse, of intolerance and neglect. Its flames are fanned by the voices of men, women, and children of color who cry out, not for vengeance… but for justice…
Not for retribution but for comfort and understanding.
And not least of all - for help.
Even still, the role of POC in this process is not diminished. The responsibility of the individual is not cast aside because the deck is often stacked against them. No matter their pigmentation.
Life is rarely fair.
Ask anyone living in less privileged parts of the world.
All Americans - black, white, brown, native or otherwise bare a responsibility to adhere to the rule of the law. It is also our responsibility to improve upon the law when it is unbalanced and unfair.
We exercise this responsibility with our vote. It is through the free and secure execution of valid elections that we convey the will of the people.
Sometimes protest is a spark. Sometimes…maybe it takes a riot to emboss the imbalance. Maybe it takes some heat to make it shine for all to see.
Violence is never the deciding factor in a democratic society. That privilege, that power, that responsibility is preserved and conveyed solely and completely within our right to vote.
That being the case… What of the Capitol breach?
Was it not the will of these people to “protect” this power and privilege?
The difference, again, is one of substance.
Perhaps it's most comforting to dismiss their intentions as misguided. To cast them off as the lunatic fringe…
It isn’t difficult, at least in my estimation, to look at the pictures of a shirtless man dressed in buffalo horns with his face painted like a caricature from WrestleMania 3000 standing ‘victorious’ in the halls of congress, to view that scene as nothing more than an insane attempt to gain Instagram followers.
It is much easier to believe these people have been programed by the false ravings of a narcissistic demagogue. It is much easier to believe that they are gullible, uneducated, mindless dolts acting out the dying will of a delusional, ex post facto dictator.
It would be easiest to dismiss them outright… much as our democratic system has in the dismissal of the 60 something attempts to prove their point in our courts of law and order.
That would be the easy way to view this.
The reality is, there is no easy view.
The Capitol has been breached. Both physically and metaphorically.
Our compliance and our complacency as a nation is the real enemy here.
As terrifying and seriously damaging as this half-baked, reality TV attempt of a coup has been, it isn't some ridiculous "Qanon Shaman" that worries me.
It’s the rest of us.
It’s the millions of people watching that insane scenario unfold while not only clinging to unfounded conspiracy but running virtual assist by falsely and without so much as a google search worth of effort, immediately dubbing this horned idiot a member of the amorphous ANTIFA to deflect blame.
What is it these “revolutionaries” seek to protect?
What is the substance of their grievance?
What is the desired outcome?
We have a system. Imperfect as it may be.
And, regardless of the outgoing president's displeasure, that system has, for the most part, kept us in check and on balance for nearly 250 years.
His attempts to undermine the system have failed.
The votes have been counted. And recounted.
Certified and re-certified. Defended in court.
Accepted by Congress.
The system remains intact.
But I fear the damage may be irreparable.
Which fails first after all?
Our trust in the system?
Or in each other...