The Storming of Capitol Hill: A Nearly Fatal Blow to Democracy



courtesy of bbc

Shahbano Raza, Managing Editor

Although I was expecting political and social unrest on Wednesday–due to the inevitable chaos that would ensue following Democratic domination of the Senate–I never fathomed that violent protesters would be storming the Capitol Hill, forcing lawmakers to flee and jeopardizing innocent lives for a misguided, unjustifiable cause. What can only be viewed as acts of sedition, these violent protests further stain our nation’s democratic values which are currently on the brink of extinction as numerous political leaders augment citizen unrest through their continuous denial of the verified outcome of the tried and true 2020 election and their adamant refusal to allow for a peaceful transition of power. 

As a member of a generation heavily immersed in the political atmosphere, it was no surprise to me that after news of the violent protests broke, many of my peers were posting on their Instagram stories, publicly voicing their condemnation of the storming of Capitol Hill. 

Kaitlyn Wagman, a senior at Cam High, was amongst those voicing their concerns over social media, and she raised several valid points in regards to Wednesday’s attempted coup. 

Some began drawing parallels between the Capitol Hill incident and the wave of protests associated with the Black Lives Matter movement (commonly referred to as its shortened acronym, BLM) in order to justify the actions of the Capitol Hill rioters, but Wagman quickly shut down the comparisons.

“The only connection that should be made is the contrast between how police handled the situations,” said Wagman. “The BLM protests did get violent, but many times (not including select cities) the vandalism and violence was by those taking advantage of the movement, and not by the movement itself.” 

Yes, as Wagman stated, there were several instances of the Black Lives Matter protests that should be subject to scrutiny, but there is no doubt that the prompt, aggressive, and militant reaction of law enforcement to the overwhelming peaceful protests that accompanied the Black Lives Matter movement is a stark contrast to their chaotic, disorganized, and largely unsuccessful attempts at subduing the violent protests at Capitol Hill. 

“Now we have this riot at Capitol Hill, in which there was obvious violence from rioters, yet the National Guard was not called until much later, and police tried desperately to be peaceful, most rioters not facing any consequences for their actions,” Wagman noted. 

Another point to note is that the Black Lives Matter protests revolved around what many would agree is a humanitarian crisis that plagues our nation: the systemic racism that the Black community is subjected to on a daily basis. However, the protests at Capitol Hill have nothing to do with socio-economic disparities or racial inequity, and everything to do with the president’s inflammatory rhetoric and the rampant consumption of misinformation and conspiracy theories that continue to fuel the grave misconception that the 2020 election was fraudulent and corrupt. As stated by the Associated Press, “Trump’s allegations of massive voting fraud have been refuted by a variety of judges, state election officials and an arm of his own administration’s Homeland Security Department.” 

Allegations of voter fraud have been debunked and campaign lawsuits tossed out of court. After the violent mob was cleared and building secured, congressional leaders returned to Capitol Hill to resume counting the electoral votes that would certify president-elect Biden’s election victory. “It took until deep in the early hours of Thursday morning, but Congress eventually counted and certified Biden’s election win,” CNN confirmed.

So, was this attempted coup an acceptable, justified demonstration of the first and second amendments, or was it a violent, unwarranted attack on the American people and their democracy? If you accept the facts of the 2020 election and respect the democratic foundations of our nation, you, like Wagman and I, most likely believe the latter. 

“People have the right to peaceful protest, but to storm Capitol Hill and endanger all of our political leaders for something that has been contested and settled is not at all justifiable,” Wagman said, perfectly encapsulating a perspective that surpasses the limitations of partisanship and extends to all those who value reason and morality over the desire to incite hatred and violence because of political dissent.

The hypocrisy is clear as day. The so-called patriots who rioted within the walls of Capitol Hill are the very people who threaten the democratic system that enables their patriotism in the first place. By threatening the safety of others and disrupting the democratic proceedings that dictate the state of this nation, this mob of protestors insulted the principle of democracy that paved the way for the very civil liberties that allowed them to be armed with more than just an arsenal of words.

What took place on Wednesday reminded me of the stories my parents would tell me about the coups and civil unrest that characterized their childhood spent in Pakistan, a third-world country that is often demeaned and ridiculed for its overt lack of proper democracy. But who are we to criticize the tumultuous political proceedings of other nations when our own country, a first-world nation that prides itself on its esteemed democratic standards, is unable to shield itself from the looming threats of anarchy and autocracy? This historic storming of Capitol Hill was a nearly fatal blow to democracy felt not only within our nation but across the globe as surrounding countries watched with a blend of disbelief, disdain, and dread as the pillars of the American republic shook from the brunt of ignorance and contempt.