Friday, February 5, 2021

Get On With It

The spirit that people are urging the country and the Congress to just heal and move on is the same spirit that tells Black people that slavery was 150+ years ago, so just move on. It is the same spirit that denies the Holocaust. It is the same energy that fuels conspiracy theories that the Sandy Hook children and their families were paid actors. It is exactly the same as the disbelief and conspiracies surrounding 9/11. It is the same bullshit argument that the coronavirus isn't really that bad. It is evil.

There are a lot of things I would identify as evil because I have lived long enough to see it face to face. As someone who lived through 9/11 in DC, who eventually lost her job because of the repercussions, and whose life had to adjust to all manner of shifts and changes in its aftermath, I assure you that what happened that day was real. And as a nation, we didn't just get on with it, as if no one watched those towers fall or cared that it happened in a blue state. We demanded accountability, and to this day, we are still at war in the countries where the hijackers were radicalized. Still.

So don't tell us to get over January 6, 2021. Don't tell us to suck it up or to live and let live as if the only harm done was a little property damage. That is akin to suggesting that the millions who perished in the Holocaust were just collateral damage in a worldwide war. No, we can't be that cavalier or dismissive of what happened that day, nor can we simply allow the person who incited that mob to retire to Florida to play out the rest of his days on the golf course, with the only consequence of his crimes being the loss of his Twitter account...

Like most people who have been observers of tragedy, I emerged emotionally unscathed only because it touched me on the margins. I never met anyone who was a slave. I wasn't born until years after the Holocaust. I didn't know anyone who died in those plane crashes on 9/11. When a sniper was terrorizing the DC area in 2002, I didn't know anyone who had been in their crosshairs, even though everybody was a potential target. I haven't been personally affected by any school or workplace or church or nightclub or other shooting rampage at a public venue where people are not supposed to worry about possibly getting shot. Yet, my lack of personal experience with these atrocities does not diminish my capacity to empathize with the victims or survivors.

So as I watched the Capitol siege on television in real time (because I am the kind of politics junkie who tunes into C-Span in the middle of the day), I am grateful that I missed being in the vicinity of the melee. My daughter's teacher wisely chose to postpone their in-person socially-distanced weekly gathering at the playground three blocks from the Senate Office Buildings due to the possibility of chaos. Weeks later, I can go about my normal life and look past the military installation that has been built around the Capitol. I can take notice of, then drive around the unscalable fencing topped with barbed wire or the tanks with armed sentries posted at every entrance. I have plenty of other distractions to help me carry on as if a bunch of disgruntled lunatics hadn't felt so emboldened as to set fire to the house in order to swat at a spider.

Except I was closer to the Capitol rampage than just mere miles. My first cousin is a Capitol police officer, has been since I worked there in 1999. I haven't had a chance to ask him any specific questions about what he witnessed or experienced but I know that several of his colleagues suffered physical injuries and there is untold PTSD throughout the ranks. If it is true that there were collaborators on the inside (and I have every reason to believe that there were, particularly those who opened the doors and let the rioters in), then imagine having to work with people you cannot trust? With folks who were complicit in an uprising that could have gotten you killed?

Obviously from the public safety perspective, those who stormed the Capitol put my cousin, his colleagues, every Senator and Member of Congress, their staffs, the building facilitators, as well as those who work at the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, Union Station, the various churches, restaurants, and every other small business in that vicinity--in danger. ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE left their houses for work that morning, already facing the uncertain risk of being too essential to work from home, unaware that they might not live to see the end of the day. All because a mob of hysterics sought to avenge an election that was lost by millions of votes. On a deeper level, one that is not hyperbolic, our democracy was at risk. Take a look at what just happened in Myanmar and that is literally what could have happened here on January 6.

So miss me with talk about healing and moving on unless that dude in the horns and facepaint gets the death penalty. Then I might object to excessive or disproportionate sentences...although this band of insurgents came to my city, erected a hanging gallows, and were hunting lawmakers to impose mob justice. So eff that, if y'all decide to force-feed him inorganic produce until it kills him, I won't shed any tears.

I will save my emotions for young men like Kalief Browder, who languished in jail for failure to make bail for a crime he didn't commit. Or for the Exonerated Five, whom your Trump demanded be executed for crimes they didn't commit. Having been thwarted in that endeavor, King Donald the Chicken-Hearted quenched his blood lust by executing five federal prisoners before the Inauguration. My tears are reserved for Atatiana Jefferson, Bothem Jean, and Breonna Taylor who died in their homes...the women killed in direct contradiction of the castle laws that shielded and made heroes of the McCloskeys. No, we can't just move on and heal.

We can't move on when the aforementioned McCloskeys got prime-time business promotion during the Republican National Convention and pardons because they imagined that they were being threatened by folks marching past their house in the middle of the street. Nobody vandalized their cars, no one was caught peeing in their pool, no one's dog shit on their lawn, but a group of Black protestors entered their gated community and that was sufficient to brandish their guns. A Black child cannot even play with a toy gun in a public park, nor can a Black man with a legally concealed gun in his car just drive off with a ticket, but we're supposed to believe that the McCloskeys fears were rational. We're supposed to sympathize with whiners who got upset that 74 million voters didn't prevail over 81 million because now we're doubting math and science?

No, we won't move on while the co-conspirators freely walk the halls of Congress. When the co-agitators can obstruct the functioning of government as a bargaining chip. When it is all but assured that the former President will be acquitted again, in spite of preponderant, clear, convincing, beyond any reasonable doubt that he sanctioned the attempted assassination of his Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and other members of a co-equal branch of government. We Will Not Just Move On. 

Yeah, we're tired, but injustice is a relentless foe. We know how to anticipate your moves, so we're staying organized and galvanized and prayed up and vigilant. Our cameras will always be on. We are going to call out your hypocrisy at every turn. (I bought a megaphone last month, and I know how to use it.)

So get on with it--do what you will to push back against progress. Remain indignant that we are encroaching on territory that you once claimed as yours...don't worry about making space at the table because we've brought our own chairs. Stay mad that the first woman to become Vice President of the United States is the Black Indian-American daughter of immigrants instead of one of your "real" American spokesmodels. Explain why the waitress-turned Congresswoman who live-tweeted the whereabouts of the Speaker (third in the line of Presidential succession) during the insurrection hasn't been sanctioned for her participation. The justify why it is more dangerous to de-platform Congressional Qaren than it was to ever let her to get elected in the first place. Allow former President Quack, the man who systematically destroys everything in his wake with his lies, evil policies, and butt hurt ego to just ride away from the wreckage on one of his little golf carts. Get on with the lie that we're all equal and white privilege isn't real when we've got to fight just to maintain the few rights we've attained.

Better yet, get on with your delusions that racism, sexism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, ageism, ableism, homophobia, xenophobia, nationalism, exceptionalism, and crony capitalism were the secret sauce of American greatness. Your coup to take America back in time to some idyllic utopia failed, so you get on with it.

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