Let’s grant one thing from the outset: The vast majority of people who are at this very moment demonstrating at the Capitol, while Congress is counting was trying to count the Electoral College vote, believe they are there to prevent a vast injustice. The inappropriate and lawless behavior in which they are engaging arises from the best motives: preserving the democratic system of the United States of America.
Peaceful gathering in their right. Violence is not. Yet I think that even the fact that they are taking the law into their own hands … the fact that they have brought metal flagpoles and likely weapons into the Capitol building while Congress is in session … the fact that they are breaking windows in the Capitol and carousing through the Senate chamber… largely stems from an honest belief that the system has been corrupted, from the Vice President on down. (Vice President Pence today has refused President Trump’s demand that he overturn the election of Senators Biden and Harris as incoming President and Vice President. Kudos and yasher koach to the Vice President for standing up for the rule of law. UPDATE: And for telling protesters to leave the Capitol.)
The protesters have been lied to and manipulated for other people’s gain. By the current President, and behind them by people who are mostly nowhere near Washington DC today. By people who don’t regularly make the news. People who have a lot of money and power, who were in power before President Trump was elected and who will still be in power when he’s gone.
Even the Fox News reporter is being heckled for attempting to report what’s actually going on.
How could this happen? For one thing, look up the Fairness Doctrine (thank you Greg Pattenaude @GregNugget for pointing this out). The Fairness Doctrine was an FCC policy that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was—in the FCC’s view—honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC eliminated the policy in 1987. Fox News debuted 9 years later. The repeal of this doctrine has contributed terribly to the manipulation of the masses.
Rabbi Chanina, the Vice High Priest, said:
Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the reverence/fear/awe it inspires, everyone would swallow their neighbor alive. (Pirkey Avot 3:2)
This is a pretty pessimistic view of human nature, and one to which I do not subscribe. I’ve been reading Humankind: A Hopeful History, which brings a lot of examples to demonstrate what I believe: That most people, most of the time, are motivated by positive energy. That it takes a lot of manipulation to cause large groups of people (whether societies or mobs) to go off the rails.
But once they go off the rails, pray for the welfare of the government!
This is sedition and a coup attempt, and I pray that no one dies. It’s shortly before 3pm eastern time on Electoral Vote-counting day 2021. We have never seen anything like this: an assault on the Capitol Building by citizens intent on disrupting and overturning the legal functioning of government. Congress has been given a “shelter in place” order. Capitol police are not in control of the interior of the building, and the people walking around inside have not passed through a metal detector.
So: Pray for the welfare of the government, especially the legally-sanctioned forces which will have to act to bring this attack to an end. Pray that no one uses a firearm. Pray that the protestors come out of the fugue state into which they have been hypnotized for the last many years. Update: Pray for the woman who is now reported as being in critical condition after being shot in the chest, and for the officer who was taken to the hospital, and for the other handful of people who have been harmed.
We will get through this. This is not Germany in the 1930s. Why do I believe that? Because Germany only became a united empire in 1871, at which point it was a conglomeration of kingdoms, duchies, principalities, and a few miscellaneous others. Not until 1917 did Germany become a Federal Republic. Democracy (and national unity) was not layered very deeply when Hitler came to power. And young democracies are notoriously corrupt.
The United States, by contrast, became a republic over 200 years ago. We have held 59 elections, with peaceful transfers of power. Our democracy is robust and well-established. I do not believe we are beholding the end of it.
However, moments like this one fuel change, and clearly there’s legal and societal change needed.
And lest you believe that racism is ended, just ask yourself: If this almost entirely White mob that has breached the Capitol were Black folk, wouldn’t shots have been fired by now?? What do you think would have happened to the people that I see right now who are breaking windows and climbing in?! If Black Lives Matter protesters were seen looting and vandalizing like the violent minority has at the Capitol today, what would today’s protestors have said about them?!
But also please notice. The vast majority of people at this rally are staying outside. Many are walking away. Most people are not there for violence. It is terribly important that you recognize this. As horrible as this is, only a tiny minority have turned into an ungovernable mob. And those rioters have pretty much all been captured on video (many by themselves!)
Reinforcement law enforcement have arrived.