Image description: Small, messy bits of kitchen waste on a white background: orange, cucumber, onion, bread or cracker, a piece of packaging. Photo courtesy of Charlie Deets on Unsplash.
There was an attempted coup in my country today. People with guns stormed the capitol building — for the first time in my country’s history — demanding that the results of a free election be overturned in favor of racist, oppressive minority rule.
The enormity of that is settling in and I’m gonna need a minute.
Black lives matter.
One of the ways I’ve been processing this week’s events is by reading viewpoints from outside the U.S., from people whose views and writing aren’t tilted by living in the middle of our so-called exceptionalism.
The following two quotes, one from inside the U.S. and one outside, mesh in a way that’s really important to understand right now. Tl;dr: This isn’t over. The fragile egg of our democracy has been cracked.
“It’s absurd, because the whole thing seems like a clown show. Coups are supposed to be orderly, authoritarian, not this dumb shit. It honestly seems like a grift to bilk supporters out of more money. You can just roll it back, right? Right?
No. No no no. Oh God no.
The tragic thing which you do not understand — which you cannot understand — is that you’ve already lost. You cannot know exactly what — that’s the nature of chaos — but know this. You will lose more than you can bear.
What I can tell you — what anyone who’s experienced this can tell you — is that it’s going to be bad. I didn’t know that churches and hotels would blow up on Easter Sunday, but I know now. I’m trying to tell you in advance. You’ve opened up a Pandora’s box of instability. All kinds of demons come out.
I have lived through a coup. It felt like what you’re feeling now. Like watching something stupid and just waiting for it to go away. But it doesn’t go away. You can forget about it, but it doesn’t go away.
There’s a ticking bomb at the heart of your democracy now. Your government, the very idea of governance is fatally wounded. Chaos has been planted at its heart. I don’t know what this chaos will grow into, but I can promise you this. It won’t be good.”
“On one screen, Trump is shriveling into a buffoonish, pathetic figure. His violent and destructive fantasies remain unchecked and dangerous, but news accounts are depicting an increasingly isolated figure whose advisers are deserting him, even as he rages ineffectually over his inability to reverse his election loss.
On the other screen, a different picture is emerging: For the loose network of groups and lone actors that carried out Trump’s calls for violent disruption of the lawful conclusion of the election, it’s becoming clear that the siege was a huge and momentous success, a propaganda coup that will energize them for a long time to come.
Think of it like this: The attack on the Capitol captured the news cycle and riveted the country’s attention for a full day, projecting imagery of a country seeming to teeter on the edge of civil collapse.
They succeeded in disrupting the lawful conclusion of the presidential election, even if temporarily. This imagery (and remember that far-right groups have gone international) was broadcast all around the world.
“His supporters pulled off a violent, armed insurrection attacking the U.S. Capitol,” Maddow noted. “And then they all just walked away to tell their war stories about it.”