Talking About January 6th
by Lindsey Turnbull
This should be a simple post wishing you a Happy New Year and asking for your opinions on what you’d like to see at Miss Heard Media dot com.
Instead, I’m writing about an attempted coup.
I live exactly 11.2 miles from the Capitol. I used to work in the Capitol. It was my first employer when I moved to Washington DC, and as much as I honestly hated the job, I walked in every single day in awe of the building I got to work in. I have friends who still work there. Some friends of color were so terrified by white supremacists mobs roaming the streets, they couldn’t leave their houses.
I’ve had a hard time sorting out my feelings about this whole event- and I won’t lie, a surprising number of those feelings are mostly rage at those in charge who failed to take seriously the very public threats of violence made on Twitter, Parler, Facebook, 4chan, etc.
I don’t think I need to point out the difference in response to protests this summer, of those looking for justice for lives lost to preventable police brutality- and those looking to disrupt Legislative proceedings to overturn a free and fair election (one with no proof of fraud and 63 lost court cases to prove it) with possible kidnapping, violence, and murder. (I will not share the posts here, but you can find them if you’re so inclined.)
But one thing that really keeps grating my ear is hearing “this isn’t who we are. We need to heal!”
I understand why politicians and leaders want to say that. Who wants to look at a mob of people destroying one of the most visible representations of our sacred democracy and say “Yes! This is America!”
But I studied history. In those same hallowed halls, Sen. Aaron Brooks caned Sen. Charles Sumner nearly to death over Sumner’s impassioned anti-slavery speech. Look at the massacre of Tulsa, OK and Black Wall Street. Of the Moore’s home on Christmas Eve in Mims, FL. Of the MOVE bombings in Philly. Of the treatment of Indigenous peoples from 1492 to today. Of anti-Semitism. Of the response to the Civil Rights movements, including the National Guard being called into Little Rock, AR so that nine Black children could attend a formerly segregated school.
And I have to say: This is who we are.
I will add: We can do better.
If my beloved house has a leak, and water is flooding into the basement, pooling around my ankles, what good does it do me to say “Leak? What leak? My house is a strong house, an old and beautiful house. No house of mine has leaks.”
If I plug up the leak, but do nothing about the water lapping at my feet, one problem is solved, but I’m ignoring another one that will have longer term consequences, like mold, rot, foundational issues.
The only way forward is to fix the leak, drain the water, air out the basement, replace any rotted pipes, and perhaps spray a mold preventative around.
After the Civil War, Lincoln was assassinated before his Reconstruction plans could be completed. Instead, Andrew Johnson issued broad pardons to Confederate soldiers. There were allowed to hold office and codify former “slave codes” into Jim Crow segregation. Statues were constructed. Textbooks written.
There was no justice, so the country could not heal. The water was never drained from the basement even though the leak was plugged up, so mold and mildew proliferated. The foundation cracked.
We can fix the house. We can fix the cracks, air it out. Shine Ida B. Well’s light of truth into every corner, destroying anything that’s grown in the damp and the dark.
But it’s going to take all of us, using all of our individuals gifts and talents. It’s going to be hard. We’re going to mess it up. But we can do it.
I believe we can do it.
I have no other choice but to be radically hopeful.
Prefer to listen? Here’s a video version:
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