A lesson in unhealthy disagreement
There are so many things I contemplated writing about over winter break, I brainstormed all the topics that could be my first article of 2021. I was thinking about writing a review of Wonder Women 1984. I thought about writing a recap of 2020 since I was so happy to see 2020 “leave the chat.” However, as a country, we have apparently decided we will not be leaving any of our toxic habits in 2020 at all.
Like most days, I started out on Jan. 6, getting ready for work. It was a terribly early shift as I was scheduled to start cashiering at 7 a.m. Funnily enough, I was late. Imagine my surprise when I arrived home a little after three o’clock to find out there were riots, guns and protesting in our nation’s Capitol.
When I visited DC in the fifth grade there were protests outside the White House gates. I actually recall joining the protest and if my memory serves me well, it was protesting the imprisonment of the Cuban Five. I haven’t researched the Cuban Five since or before this protest but I still remember the crowd’s chants that day outside the White House gates: “Free the Cuban Five.”
There have always been protests in D.C. There will always be protests in D.C. Having participated in a protest there I can tell you with confidence that what happened on Jan. 6, wasn’t a protest, it was a riot.
I spoke with someone that night about the events of the day and said why I felt these riots were so disturbing. They responded to me by saying, “What is the difference between the protests about the election and the protests over George Floyd last summer?”
Their intent in saying so wasn’t malicious but a genuine question, and in some aspects they were right. At both protests, people brought guns, people died, violence was incited, people rioted, both groups have radicals. The difference between those riots and these is that when people marched for Black Lives Matter they were protesting for human rights. They were protesting police brutality and double standards.
In contrast, when people protested in Washington on January 6, they marched over political opinion and conspiracy. I personally haven’t seen any evidence that the election was conducted unjustly. I do think that this election was unlike any we have ever seen before. What we need to be asking is why. Why were these protests set apart from those last summer?
The answer lies in the motivations behind each event. The death of George Floyd re-sparked a movement. The events at the capitol were a temper tantrum. Wednesday they chanted “Stop the Steal.” I actually had to ask my dad what they meant by that.
When I heard they were protesting a corrupt election I was shocked. I thought before Wednesday that no one actually believed that. I think that our country struggled to process mail-in ballots. However, I also believe that if this year had been without mail-in ballots, and everyone had voted in person, then the election would have remained the same.
There is a difference between the two, at the core of the conversation is human rights, respect for life. That’s why people marched for Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. That’s why they have been marching since I was a little girl. Black people wanted others to realize that their lives matter too. Yet, we have seen peaceful protests and memorial services broken up by police last summer nonetheless.
Following the events of last Wednesday, videos have surfaced of police officers taking selfies with “protestors.” Which is a slap in the face to the officers who lost their lives defending democracy and defending our elected officials. It disrespects the officers, like Eugene Goodman, who bravely distracted rioters away from the senate chamber while it was being broken into.
It’s important that we are holding rioters accountable. It’s important we hold the police officers accountable who escalated an already dangerous situation. It’s important to reward the heroes who were quite literally, saving our country. The issue that is rotting our country inside out is accountability. Can we trust that our system, our government, our constitution will not turn a blind eye to those who require justice?
Ironically, I also wrote an article last semester about how Trump denying the election’s outcome harmed American democracy overall. How prophetic it turned out to be. We have seen in the last week rioting being painted as protesting and “our right.” And I will say again the same thing I have been saying since the protests last year: violence is never acceptable.
Protesting isn’t rioting. We heard Fox News say it last summer and it’s still true this winter. Bringing guns to the doorstep of democracy is a behavior I can’t just let go of.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, everyone is allowed to protest and I will be the first to say thank God for free speech. It tells me who the morons are; however if you’re upset that Joe Biden is President, then, just like the Democrats in 2016, you let his actions speak for themselves and vote him out in 2024.
Joe Biden isn’t my ideal choice either. I don’t really consider myself a Democrat. Although I am sure my die-hard Republican, Fox News-watching family members feel I am. Haven’t you heard? Being bothered about climate change means you believe in Socialism.
I feel as a God-fearing American who believes in democracy and the constitutional system that this behavior is unacceptable. The people who bring guns and bombs to protests are not protesters, they are domestic terrorists.