An unconscionable attack

As last week’s Keizertimes was being prepared to be sent to the printer, all hell broke loose at the nation’s Capitol. Protestors who gathered to oppose the certification by Congress of Joseph Biden as winner of the 2020 election, attacked the Capitol, even storming the Senate chambers. Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over the certification process was evacuated.

Initial news reports stated that the Capitol’s police force was not equipped to handle the riot. For that is what it was, some elected officials called it a coup.

Four people were killed during the riot, including Brian Sicknick, a U.S. Capitol officer.

This is the first time in America’s history that a presidential election has resulted in violent protests, egged on by the losing candidate. This is anything but a peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another. The scenes we watched on television on last week was what we are used to seeing in other parts of the world.

It was shameful that the president ignored entreaties from people within his own circle calling on him to send a strong message to the rioters to stand down. Some of the president’s supporters outside the administration were unable to contact Trump to convey their pleas for him to tell the mob to stop their actions and disperse.

The events unfolding at the U.S. Capitol were so far from democracy in action. One can only imagine the rapture our foreign adversaries must have been feeling watching the news. How can America continue to be a beacon to the world when what happened in Washington was not much better than what happens in countries with histories of turbulent and violent governments?

Calls for the president’s removal from office reverberated across the country and across the political spectrum. Some called for the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, which wrest control from the president. Democratic leaders declared that if the vice president did not use the amendment to remove the president, they would vote to impeach.

The president has his supporters in the country—not all are gun-totting, rioting people. Millions of the president’s supporters cling to the believe that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, not only from the sitting president, but also from them. All without a scintilla of evidence of election fraud.

The attack on the Capitol was shocking in part because it was so far outside the bounds of our imagination. We need to reconcile the fact that some of our fellow citizens are beyond upset about the election, they are furious and they will not be calmed. This week the FBI reported it has received information that armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitals and the U.S. Capitol, again. Political rallies are one thing, armed protests is another. 

Ironically, our democracy permits Americans to protest, and even open carry weapons. That same democracy calls for elections. Until recently, a vast majority of Americans have accepted the results. 

In news video from the attack on the Capitol, protestors decried that the election was stolen and it was fradulent, denying the president a second term. In the two months since the election there has been no evidence presented to back up that belief. Fifty cases have been rejected by various courts. There is no credible evidence.

Oregon has had its own capitol protests. During a legsilative special session in December, a group of armed protestors stormed the capitol, angry about COVID-19 restrictions. It will be a scary scene if the capitol is stormed again by election deniers in the coming days.Armed protests that result in damage and personal harm should never be accepted. 

There are many stories yet to be reported about America’s tragic day at the U.S. Capitol. What happened on January 6, 2021 can not be repeated anywhere.