Ben Franklin famously said, “Experience keeps a dear school, but a fool will learn in no other.” He was all too prescient.
I have noted before that religion and other beliefs are a choice. We are not born to believe one religion or indeed any religion. Similarly, we do not inherently believe science or mathematics. We learn the content of these things by various means, come to understand that some have options (religion) and some don’t (science and mathematics, though many questions remain open in each domain). We choose what to believe. Our choices are heavily influenced by parents, social circles, schooling and other forces, but in the end we each decide what to believe and how to act. That’s what I believe. And thus, I choose to believe the following:
A. On January 6, 2021, following months of unsupported and false claims of voting fraud and stolen election, an unprecedented and intolerable series of events occurred.
B. The President of the United States summoned his most volatile supporters to Washington and directed them to attack the Capitol Building where the Congress was completing the constitutionally mandated task of validating, counting and accepting the Electoral College votes that would officially and finally end the election in which Trump was soundly defeated.
C. The attack was orchestrated and planned beforehand by various means, including social media, encrypted websites and chat rooms frequented by people who have chosen to believe that,
- Donald Trump is an honest, hardworking, dedicated public servant trying to do the right thing for all Americans;
- Trump’s decision to downplay the coronavirus as another Democratic hoax was correct, despite the ensuing deaths of more than 375,000 Americans;
- QAnon is real – the government is run by a secret “deep state” cabal of pedophiles and other miscreants, possibly including lizard-people, trying to destroy America;
- The election Trump lost was rigged and rife with fraud, despite the bringing of more than 60 failed lawsuits, despite the absence of actual evidence of fraud, despite the opposite conclusion of many of Trump’s staunchest allies (Attorney General Barr, for example) and despite the fact that to rig the election on the claimed scale would have to have involved many thousands of cooperating individuals in multiple states, including many Republican election officials.
- Despite numerous sources warning of the impending assault, multiple government security authorities concluded that a small force of Capitol Police, with limited equipment and unclear instructions/chain of command, could handle whatever might occur. When the attack quickly overwhelmed the limited opposing force, some of whom actively cooperated with the attackers, urgent appeals for additional help from nearby National Guard and other forces were either denied, delayed or simply ignored.
- While FBI and other law enforcement agencies are now arresting hundreds of riot participants, little meaningful light was been shed on how such a massive, widespread failure of security could have occurred, jeopardizing the lives of government officials high in the chain of presidential succession and numerous members of Congress who had publicly stated they intended to accept the Electoral College votes and declare Joe Biden, once and for all, the election winner.
- Republican members of Congress who voted against accepting the Electoral College results continue to resist accountability by Trump for the attack on the Capitol.
- Republican members of Congress who refused to accept the results participated through speeches and likely other means in inducing the attack on the Capitol.
- Those same Republican members refused to comply with House requirements to wear masks, likely resulting in COVID infection of multiple members who congregated with those Republicans in safe holding areas while police and reinforcements pushed the invaders out of the building.
- Those same Republican members of Congress have refused to cooperate with new House security measures intended to assure safety of Congress and staff, such as passing through magnetometers at entry doors.
- Most of those same Republicans voted “no” to the House resolution impeaching Trump for the unprecedented second time for inciting an insurrection against the government of the United States (see details at https://bit.ly/3nJK2cd)
- D. As a result of the foregoing, the nation’s capital city, preparing for the inauguration of Joe Biden & Kamala Harris, is a state of major defensive lockdown arising from well-founded fear that the insurrectionists inspired by Trump will return and use violence to try to prevent the inauguration from being completed.
- E. The sealed-off perimeter for the already limited inaugural activities has been vastly expanded and public transportation has already begun to be shut down in a wide area.
- F. National Guard presence is evident at multiple government buildings.
- G. Reports indicate a vast law enforcement mobilization in anticipation that it may be necessary to repel additional attacks by Trump’s supporters against the U.S. government.
That is where we are. The nation’s capital is under threat from an army of thousands of American citizens supported by multiple members of the Republican Party who have learned nothing from the recent experience and continue to align themselves with utterly discredited claims of election fraud and phantasmagorical claims that are suggestive of the most far-out science-fiction.
The claims of adequate preparation for the possible attacks is, of course, comforting. But, in my opinion, it is not enough. I believe the following:
- The Speaker of the House should immediately announce that any member of the House who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol or who refuses to pass through magnetometers to assure they are unarmed will not be recognized to speak in the House chamber until they comply. If those members continue to disrupt the House through demands to be heard and other means, the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House should forcibly remove such members from the building.
- The federal government law enforcement leadership should publicly announce and, where possible, directly communicate to the putative leaders and participants of those threatening to renew the January 6 attack that they will be met with extreme physical deterrence. This means a warning that deadly force will be authorized – not tear gas and rubber bullets, but the full force of the police and military forces charged with protecting the city and the government from further insurrectionist actions.
- It is time to stop treating the Republican and Trump supporter insurrectionists like spoiled over-privileged children. They are adults making the most serious decisions to attempt to overthrow the government through force and violence. The fastest solution, with the least likelihood of mass casualties and destruction of the fabric of our democratic republic, is to employ force that will end the fight swiftly and definitively. As horrifying as that scene will be, it will far worse, I suggest, to engage in a repeat in the nation’s capital of the prolonged street conflicts that ensued during the conflicts in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police and related cases.
- The U.S. government has not only the right but the obligation to defend itself and now is the time to make clear unequivocally that such defense will be mounted with full force against any who choose to challenge it through violence.
If you are horrified by this prospect, you should be. So am I. But think of what happens, or could happen, if the defense of the Capitol City and the government is insufficient to stop the insurrection before it can work its full destructive force. I chose to believe we have no other reasonable option.