Once more, with feeling

Posted on FaceBook about 5 minutes ago, ’cause I was pissed:

We are still fooling with the cleanup from the insurrection on January 6th. It was not a protest. It was not a demonstration. It was an attempted coup d’etat, and nobody is going to be able to reframe, or diminish, or pretty up that effort. These people were not patriots, they were insurgents, no different in their mindset or intention than the Taliban or ISIS fighters who decapitated people in the Mid-East several years ago. We looked at that in horror, and called them radicalized Islamics who were locked into ancient practices of ritualized and brutal designs of justice and locked into the intolerance of toxic religiosity. American insurgents at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th were armed, prepared to disrupt official business of the U.S. Congress in whatever manner they found necessary. Regardless of political affiliation, they worshipped a false human idol, and that never goes well.
When radical Islamics in Iran and Iraq were about the business of jihad, and decapitating those declared enemies, Americans in particular decried those actions as abhorent, morally unacceptable, barbaric, misguided. We learned of words like Jihad, although we didn’t fully understand them, and we spoke up and out against those who perpetuated that mindset. We remembered September 11th, and the Boston Marathon bombing, and we generalized all Muslims as representative of the radical Islamic terrorists. There. All done. We have found the problem, the undesirables, we know who and what they are, and we don’t take kindly to their kind around here.
But we’re not all done. Their kind is our kind. Those who attempted to occupy the U.S. Capitol on January 6th were radical jihadists if ever there were any. They spoke openly of “coming for” certain politicians, intimating they were to be executed. They wanted to hang the Vice-President, and erected a make-shift gallows outside. This cannot be taken as a joke, or a demonstration of frustration. This was an insurrection, and had it not been for the (late) arrival of the NAtional Guard, there may well have been a body count.
The U.S. flag was prominently displayed by insurgents on January 6th, while they made a mockery of the banner by weaponizing it – beating police officers with flag poles, knocking over formal displays of it within the building. I cannot claim these people as Americans. I cannot claim many of them as human. To see a white man, smirking proudly, with a Confederate flag striding through the U.S. Capitol was jarring. I might allow for his “passion” if there has not already been so much diatribe about Confederate afficionados refusing to attempt understanding about the horror that image continues to activate for Blacks, LatinX, and Indigenous peoples. If they don’t care about our feelings, I damn sure don’t care about theirs. That symbol is unwelcome in MY coutntry, and it is MY country. It does not belong to THEM.
So, the big question, is where we go from here. The damage done on January 6th is ongoing. It is not limited to repeats of minutes-long video clips that stimulate our emotion. We’re in deep do-do here. This isis so much deeper than a petty oaf ex-President, or his attempts to denigrate the country into an autocracy. If nothing else, let’s reflect on what an inept attempt that was, as was the attempted coup. We are incredibly fortunate they weren’t more competent. If this situation wasn’t so grave, it would be almost funny…consider the moron in the moose horns who oooooois revered as a “shaman” in the conspiracy movement, but can’t survive without his organic baby food. But these people had knives, guns, clubs, zip-ties, tasers and probably firearms on January 6th in the Capitol, and they weren’t laughing.
If anyone has any question about whether or not the crowd on January 6th should be defined as terrorists, go and look it up in the dictionary. I refuse to debate it with anyone. They were, and remain, domestic terrorists. No less than every church-going pillar of his community who stalked and hunted Black people and lynched them in the town square. With their wives and children watching, as though it was a theatrical event. They fucking brought lunch and played games, like it was the church picnic, and in some cases it was exactly that. It’s documented, and I’m not going to go looking for those citations; anyone who questions that can go and look it up for themselves.
After all the lynching, documented and undocumented, all the vigilante killings of Black and Indigenous and People of Color over the past 400 years, there has been no armed insurrection against the U.S. government. After all the trash talking and hypocritical diatribes from the so-called conservative wing of the political establishment against Black and Indigenous and People of Color, there has been no organized and armed warfare with the government, on any level. But when the system pushes back on the people who created it, and there’s a virtual revolution of norms and protocol, THEN there’s a domestic war. It happened in 1861. It happened after 1865, as a resistance to Reconstruction. And it’s happening again. In its simplest form, people just couldn’t get their way. In its more somber form, people want to end democracy.
Some of this insurgency claims their voices can’t be heard. Some claim there is a fraudulent system at work that gives certain people advantage in politics, in financial aid, in opportunity. Some claim this is un-American, and they won’t take it. I agree whole-heartedly with them – that is un-American. Where I fall away from their cause, however, is the notion of “We want our country back.”. My question is…where did it go? I was here the whole time, and it seemed to be right here. Was it was I wanted, was it what people who look like me wanted? Um, no. But we didn’t go running around and buying up assault weapons and doing military-style maneuvers in the woods. But that’s what these people did, believing it is their right to decide what the country should be, who it is meant to serve, who is welcome here. I hear you. And I’ve got a place for you to put that; use your imagination to think of where that might be.
This is not a discussion or treatise on which political viewpoint is better or worse, whose policies are more promising. This is, however, an indictment of racism and classism, disguised as patriotism. If the truth is too painful or problematic for those who lean toward an insurrection mindset, they should understand that if it’s that difficult for them, how do the think it goes down for those directly impacted? I could make the argument that even they are directly impacted, but they would be the last to admit that. So, those of African and Indigenous descent, and people of color in general, are those I would include in the group of those directly impacted. Unless we can at least agree that we don’t all share the same history, we’re not going to get anywhere.
Argue all you want about this being “American” history, but until you acknowledge the horror and the inequity and the ongoing status quo of this reality, we can’t ever get to the reconciliation of a shared experience. I’m done trying to travel the middle of the road with this, done with trying to spare the feelings of people who don’t spare mine. I’m tired of feeling as though resolving this who issue of race is the responsibility of the people most directly impacted, that some change in our behavior is what solves the whole thing. I’m tired of blaming the victim, tired of making sure I’ve worked out all the logical errors of my argument, tired of reading the same news story where only the names have been changed, the locale has been changed – “Police involved shooting leaves Black man dead”. Tired of it. Just. Tired.
The only way anyone gets to reconciliation, of just about anything, is by going through the icky shit about how the conflict came about. Everyone involved has to be able to say their piece, say what happened, how it happened, how it impacted them, how it changed them and how it changed the common environment. Then. THEN. If you’re courageous, and really want things to be different…then…after all the shouting and the tears and the denial and the acceptance…then MAYBE you can start on common ground. Without going through the icky stuff, we don’t stand a chance.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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