I went to sleep in Greece on Wednesday night January 6 feeling elated that Jon Ossoff, following Raphael Warnock whose victory had been declared earlier, was officially named the winner of his runoff election in Georgia, returning the Senate to the Democrats by the slimmest of margins. I expected to wake up to the celebration of Stacey Abrams’ contribution to the victory and to listening to commentators discussing how it came about and what we could expect from the next Congress.
Instead, I learned that a violent insurrection by thousands of people hoping to overturn the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had taken place in the Capitol of the United States. It was clear from the early footage that there had been a massive failure on the part of police and security forces to secure the Capitol building. The President himself, abetted by his son Don Junior, Rudy Guiliani, and other Republicans, urged the mob to march to the Capitol and to fight to overturn the certification of the Electoral College results. This is why Democrats will most likely move to impeach him for a second time.
Just as disturbing is the emerging news that the Capitol Police had been adequately warned that some of the groups urging their members to attend the rally were posting on social media about their intent to storm the Capitol. Apparently there had been discussions about trying and hanging Vice President Pence and also about killing Nany Pelsoi. Questions have been raised about how the mob knew its way about secret rooms within the Capitol building, with the suspicion being that members of Congress, their staff, or security personnel within the building had been in communication with leaders of the mob.
Though the press has been hesitant to fuel the fires by reporting on it, insurrectionist groups are calling for armed rallies at the US Capitol and state capitols on Inauguration Day or in the days leading up to it. In other words, the failed coup of January 6 could be the beginning, not the end of violent insurrection in the United States. Some former members of the military (including one of the women who was killed) and some former police officers took part in the failed coup. Given the failure of the Capitol Police and other relevant law enforcement authorities including the FBI to prevent the mob from entering the Capitol building, there is good reason to suspect that there are active sympathizers with the insurrectionists in police forces around the country and in the FBI and in the military.
Commentators were quick to compare the militarized response to Black Lives Matter protests to the response to the events of January 6. Obviously, those charged with protecting the public order find largely peaceful protests by black people and their white allies to be more of a threat than the Proud Boys and their ilk. In other words, we cannot depend on the police or the military to do everything in their powers to stop the ongoing insurrection.
I wish I knew what to say about this. There are of course things that can be done. The President can be impeached in order to send a strong message that his words and behavior will not be tolerated. We can hope against hope that Republicans will join the Democrats in the impeachment. We can hope that the Biden administration will be able to pass meaningful gun control legislation. A thorough investigation can be conducted into the failure to protect the Capitol against insurrection. We can hope that the air will finally come out of the President’s balloon now that he is banned from Twitter.
But even if all of this and more were to happen, we would still be left with a deeply divided country in which one side is so rooted in fixed beliefs that no appeal to reality or facts is likely to sway them. While white people have generally believed that the police and the military are there to protect us, we may be forced to recognize—as black people have always known–that the police and the military cannot be counted on to protect us, nor to uphold the law and to safeguard our government’s institutions.
I fear for my country’s future.
See Michael Moore’s Facebook video on the crisis.
Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator who lives in Heraklion, Crete. Carol’s recent book is Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.
Listen to Carol’s a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry recorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parliament of World’s Religions.