After President Donald Trump ignited his riotous group of seditionists with the words “fight like hell” and ‘take our country back,’ the return shouts and whoops from the crowd were foreboding. In the subsequent hours, Trump's followers proved that walls do not work when they scaled the stone porticos of the Capitol building. Later that day, I heard Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) quote one of his former professors, “ leadership is disappointing your followers at a rate they can absorb.” Had Mr. Trump taken the advice of Congressmen Kildee he may have spared lives, property, and the international reputation of the nation.
Soon after Mr. Trump’s comments, mayhem ensued. The windows of our beloved shining white Capitol were smashed and the real danger of just over two-hundred years of democratic and archival history was in danger. Mahogany desk, which bears the legacy of Lincoln and Kennedy and was first used in 1819 and refurbished or replaced in 1857 carried less value than a pair of Nike sneakers that got Black Lives Matter protesters maced and tear-gassed. Had the boxes brought into the House chambers containing the official electoral vote counts had been left behind in a panic—when the house was invaded, would they have been burned? If so then what?
Investigations will follow, including hunting down the perpetrators, and determining if the police were compliant in any way with the terrorists. Once Mr. Trump, who has placated, pampered, and puffed up white supremacists, thieves, and now murderers, weighed in later and said he “loved them” and they were special people, their permission was validated. Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I watched gavel to gavel coverage of the certification of Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris by the joint session of Congress. At 3:32 am Thursday, the state of Vermont put Biden/Harris over the top with 271 electoral votes, 3:40 am and 58 seconds, Mike Pence declared Biden/Harris the winners, at 3:44 am he gaveled the proceedings closed. I slept peacefully for a few hours, only to be awakened by friends asking what I thought of the double standard of the police reaction to the mostly white rioters and mostly black, Black Lives Matter protesters. I had two reactions; working in a diverse academic environment gives me an appreciation of well thought out and well-intentioned questions. My white friends' questions were couched in an almost pleading voice, implicitly asking how they can be an ally.
The tone of voice from my black friends was all too familiar, that sound of resignation and wondering will we ever count in America. The shouts from the mob who later descended on the Capitol screaming this is our house and we want our country back was their repudiation of black voters and people of color deciding elections. All the false talk about “stop the steal” centers mainly on black voters, and that is not a coincidence. For a lot of white Americans, the assumption that black people are ‘pulling something’ is a reality I live with as a black man every day.
When Ted Cruz rose to make his objection to Arizona’s electoral votes, using his best evangelistic voice he based his argument on the Hayes-Tilden compromise of 1876 that effectively destroyed Reconstruction and ushered in Jim Crow. His fumbling but purposeful signaling to Trumpsters was proof enough of where his opposition was really coming. For those who have fallen for [Sens.] Cruz and Hawley’s assertion that they just want election investigations to satisfy the allegations of fraud; that has been done before. Mr. Trump sent Kris Kobach on a fruitless search for voter fraud that came up empty in 2016, So did George W. Bush 14 years earlier when Attorney general John Ashcroft’s investigation also came up empty. The votes are not fraudulent, they are just black.
Thanks—Georgia, America Keep on Voting.