America is unraveling, but it’s important to understand that its stitches were always badly sewn together. There’s an attempt by neoliberals to keep propagating the myth of this better America, but we know our history. We know a country created through genocide and built by enslaved African people could have never been great.
There are direct historical precedents to white people acting violently when they feel their way of life is being threatened. After the Civil War brought an end to chattel slavery, white Americans launched orchestrated attacks against Black people to terrorize them and prevent them from voting; during the civil rights movement, groups like the Ku Klux Klan responded to desegregation with horrific violence and the creation of their own all-white communities.
As I wrote in my last column, there is no such thing as a united America. As tension continues to escalate and the right continues its war against the incoming Biden administration, there will be a lot of “anti-anti-government” propaganda. On Wednesday, a CNN anchor referred to Trump supporters breaking into the Capitol as anarchists. And while Trump supporters may be upset with the election results, anti-government they are not. If they were, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to keep their guy in charge of said government.
There are several movements coming to a head right now, all of them a threat to the neoliberal consensus that has reigned since the 1990s. In the most simplistic terms: people on the right who feel like the GOP isn’t doing enough and are looking for a more extreme response to the ongoing culture war; people on the left who want to push for change within the system; and those who want to destroy the current system and rebuild something that is more equitable.
The goals of these groups are not comparable. The latter group is after fundamental societal changes like police abolition and universal housing because we want a world based on radical care. We want Black people not to be killed in their homes and violently suppressed for protesting racial injustice. The pro-Trump forces who stormed the Capitol want a strongman to stay in power at all costs.
Occupying the halls of Congress is not the problem in and of itself. It’s been done by protesters fighting for the preservation of the Affordable Care Act and urging Congress to pass a Green New Deal. After all, in practice, Congress is just a clearinghouse for laws that primarily benefit the rich and keep the ruling class in power. The problem with Wednesday’s events is that it was white fascists who led a violent revolt by force.
As lawmakers find ways to respond to the storming of the Capitol, remember the ramifications won’t just impact the right. Any calls for greater security in U.S. government buildings, more deployment of law enforcement to protests, or more stringent laws will, as we know and have seen time and time again, be used more readily on people of color. And authorities already have more than enough resources and manpower to quell any uprising that they disagree with, as we saw during last summer’s protests.
The police going lenient on the Trump protesters was just another example of how the cops protect and enforce white supremacy. Police do the same thing across the country when they decide to use more force against Black people. This is not new.
But America is exactly the display we saw put forth this week. It is an insult to continue this myth of America as a beacon of reason, fairness, and equality when some of us have experienced the bleak reality of American policing and policies our whole lives.
Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: Washington, DC, Activists Brace for “Klanuary” as Trump Supporters March on City