Yesterday

Kathleen OKeeffe
2 min readJan 7, 2021

Like many of us I am trying to wrap my head around the events of yesterday. The quick answers, the easy answers, are that we saw the ugly and deadly results of overheated rhetoric, the weaponization of perceived white, male grievance (a mild form actually), and one particular individual who has never respected our ideals, our institutions, nor the workings of our government. This is what happens when a desperate, malignant and sociopathic narcissist, has no other avenues left, though I would happily accept a surreptitious flight out of Dover. It could have been far worse. This is where we have been going as a culture for a number of years now. Yet on the same day of this tragedy, as the death knell of American exceptionalism sounded, the despoliation of our gleaming and grand capitol, one of the deepest, reddest, most racist and anti-Semitic states in our union, elected a black son of a cotton picker and a Jewish man to the Senate, mostly due to the toil of one, determined black woman. This is America at its best and its worst. This one day. And then the next day, early in the morning, we certified the presidential election results, elevating our first female, black and Asian vice president to the second highest office in the land. The contradictions run deep, painfully so.

The Founders assembled our government with the highest ideals in mind. Learning from the fall of the Roman Republic and the grand ideas of philosophers, they pieced together the most important lessons of world history in order to create a government that was above reproach. However even they were not immune from their own sins. The ideals though were compelling and unique among nations. “All men are created equal.” They themselves could not live up to that. And nor can we, still.

The paradoxes were on full display. The Capitol Police, whose sole duty is to protect the capitol and its occupants, opened the gates, at the very least enabled an insurrection. The President, a man sworn to protect and defend the Constitution, earlier in the day stood at the dais and incited his followers to march down to Capitol Hill and “be strong” in countering the peaceful, legislative transition of power. He keyed in on their deeply entrenched concept of “patriotism” and lit the match in their boiling, drank-the-Kool-aid, brains. Had these folks been black and brown the Capitol steps would have been awash in blood. There would have been no delay in the arrival of the National Guard, every single police officer would have had a long gun and permission to use it. If you can’t see the dissonance here you are not looking very hard or you are simply unwilling to see it. This is what happens when we whitewash our own history.

This is America right now. It is sickening. The next time this happens could be far worse. Vote every enabler out. Never, ever let these people hold the levers of power again.

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