Pundits, speaking heads, and journalists have talked concerning the violent storming of the nation’s Capitol final January 6 as a “coup” and “rebellion.” We hear that this episode was one among worldwide humiliation for the U.S.,that the entire world was watching our proud beacon of democracy flip in opposition to itself and devolve towards racist autocracy.
These now commonplace characterizations of the occasions of January 6 want some unpacking and interrogation, as they threat disarming, as soon as once more, a productive understanding and intervention into the racism, or white supremacy, dynamically at work in U.S. tradition, society, and politics within the current and traditionally.
Let’s begin right here.
In relating her experiences of being whisked away from the Home chamber to so-called “security,” Consultant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained why she felt, the truth is, removed from secure:
“There have been QAnon and white supremacist sympathizers, and albeit white supremacist members of Congress, in that extraction level who I’ve felt would disclose my location and would create alternatives to permit me to be harm, kidnapped, et cetera.”
Now, if we’re to grasp an rebellion as a revolt or revolt in opposition to a longtime authorities or authority, Ocasio-Cortez’s expertise incontrovertibly calls into query whether or not the time period “coup” or “rebellion” applies to this occasion when the established authorities itself is knowledgeable by a strong white supremacist ingredient.
To name this occasion a “coup” is to disclaim the truth that racism is and has been all through the nation’s historical past a central of U.S. tradition and politics, of the nation’s political and financial programs. But now folks wish to fake that the U.S. authorities, represented within the Capitol, by some means stands aside from U.S. racism? Calling this episode a “coup” is to purchase into these figurations of the Capitol because the “hallowed” or “sacred” grounds of democracy, an historic stronghold in opposition to anti-democratic behaviors and ideologies akin to white supremacy.
It lets the nation’s foremost political establishment off the hook for the way in which the enterprise performed there was complicit with, certainly, a chief perpetrator, forwarding racial oppression and inequality.
We regularly begin conversations about institutional racism and provides lip service to its existence, after which there’s sudden denial of the involvement of America’s foremost political management and establishments?
Calling this occasion a coup is such an act of denial, particularly once we’ve all heard quite a lot of the proof popping out that strongly signifies the takeover was partially an inside job.
And calling this violent storming a “coup” distracts us from giving full recognition to the actual revolution that occurred and to the actual revolutionary potentialities earlier than us.
The Black voters in Georgia, partially mobilized by such teams as Stacy Abram’s Truthful Struggle Motion and LaTosha Brown’s Black Voters Matter, had been the actual revolutionaries main a coup in opposition to the white supremacist anti-democratic state.
These storming the Capitol on January had been attempting to suppress this coup, this revolution. They weren’t themselves main a coup however defending the established authorities.
If we don’t acknowledge this truth, we won’t come to phrases with the fact of racism in America and its historical past.
We now have heard that when the rioters introduced the Confederate flag into the Capitol, that it was the primary time that it had been waved in that constructing.
We now have to watch out about insisting that U.S. flag has really represented values so distinct from the Accomplice flag in relation to racial politics. Doing so, we threat projecting on to the flag the entire historical past of racial violence and injustice that has lengthy knowledgeable and continues to tell to this day-quite obviously-the dominant values and tradition of U.S. society at giant. In so doing, we threat, then, making the Accomplice flag a scapegoat for our nationwide neuroses and the violent crimes they’ve engendered from the preliminary European encroachment on the territory now generally known as the U.S. to the current.
Newly-elected Consultant Cori Bush, a chief anti-racist activist through the Ferguson rebellion in opposition to police violence, made this level fairly eloquently in a Washington Publish op-ed, writing:
Many have stated that what transpired on Wednesday was not America. They’re improper. That is the America that Black people know. To declare that this isn’t America is to disclaim the fact that Republican members of the U.S. Home and Senate incited this coup by treasonously working to overturn the outcomes of the presidential election. It’s to disclaim the truth that one among my senators, Josh Hawley, went out of his strategy to salute the white supremacists earlier than their tried coup. It’s to disclaim that he appropriated the signal of Black energy, the raised fist, right into a white-supremacist salute — a fist he has by no means raised at a march for Black lives as a result of he has by no means proven as much as one. It’s to disclaim that what my Republican colleagues name “fraud” really refers back to the legitimate votes of Black, brown and Indigenous voters throughout this nation who, within the midst of a pandemic that disproportionately kills us, overcame voter suppression in all of its types to ship an election victory for Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris.
To name the occasions a coup is to disclaim Bush’s expertise of white supremacy in America; it’s to refuse to acknowledge that we are able to’t name the U.S., as of but, a real democracy. Racism isn’t only a defect in democracy that must be tinkered with; it’s an entire negation of democracy.
To name the Capitol storming by white supremacists a coup is to quick circuit the method of empathy that should happen in order that these cowering in hiding within the Capitol, fearing for his or her lives by the hands of home terrorists, perceive what Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Bush, and Ocasio-Cortez have underscored—that as girls of coloration within the U.S., they’re used to dealing with this type of terror day by day.
We must always ask why January 6 was such a humiliating day, and never a lot January 5 when it the Kenosha County District Legal professional introduced that the police officer who shot Jacob Blake, an African American, within the again wouldn’t be indicted; or not a lot the day George Floyd was murdered; or any variety of days when folks of coloration have been victims of state-sponsored homicide in America.
Calling the occasions of January 6 a coup denies the historic character of U.S. governmental establishments and as soon as once more threatens to distort if not solely disarm the understanding of racial injustice in America that should inform racial transformation to realize a simply America.
Tim Libretti is a professor of U.S. literature and tradition at a state college in Chicago. A protracted-time progressive voice, he has revealed many educational and journalistic articles on tradition, class, race, gender, and politics, for which he has acquired awards from the Working Class Research Affiliation, the Worldwide Labor Communications Affiliation, the Nationwide Federation of Press Ladies, and the Illinois Girl’s Press Affiliation.