Security fencing at the Supreme Court after the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. (Flickr CC: Victoria Pickering)
Security fencing at the Supreme Court after the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

Flickr CC: Victoria Pickering

January 6, one year later

January 6, 2022

The us vs. them mentality of Jan. 6 is still prevelant today

Today is the 1 year anniversary of the capitol insurrection, where I and many Americans watched on television as these far right republicans stormed the capitol building. While it seemed like a medieval movie where the opposing army stormed the castle, it happened in our modern society as a direct threat to our democracy. One year later, many rioters have been arrested, the capitol building has been restored and it seems like a thing of the past. The mentality and ideas that led these rioters to storm the capitol are still very prevalent a year later. The us vs them mentality is strong, so strong that republicans distrust in the government is so big that they are refusing the vaccine. It feels like repeating bits of history, where it’s a different event but the story line is the same each time. Looking back I see the difference in response from the capitol insurrection and the george floyd black lives matter protests. How in the media, the BLM protests and riots were portrayed as destruction of the cities, and very violent and graphic. And how the police and national guard were called to stop these protests. Whereas in the capitol riots there were a lack of police, and they let it play out, how they let these rioters enter the nation’s capital. The lack of consistency in the media and governments responses to these events, shows the problems evident in today’s society.

The Jan. 6 mania

A year has passed since the turmoil that marked a start to Biden’s presidency. People began to climb the walls of the capital, to seemingly take over the building. The raiders were wearing American flags and were shouting about their patriotism, as they broke down doors and trashed furniture. The actions that the raiders took led to the necessary death of five people and left over a hundred people injured. The violence began from hate of a new presidency, a new style of governing. The raiders did not care how they could affect people other than themselves, they put lives in danger for their own selfish benefit. Today, Biden reflected on what had happened in a speech he gave in the morning. As Biden and the rest of America reflect on last year, take a moment to think before acting and how people’s decisions impact the surrounding community.

The Future of US

Today Biden offered a first-anniversary speech regarding the deadly rebel attack on the Capitol. That attack has injured many and killed five people, upsetting both the young and the old. He called out Trump for promoting lies and encouraging negative emotions, thus holding “a dagger at the throat of America,” Biden said. Tearing America down, Trump became bitter after losing a fair election, but who continues to interfere with and disrupt Biden’s electoral victory? In 2024, will Trump still affect the U.S. in a political matter? Or will we move forward together? How will this look a year from today? Or the next?

Reflecting on the insurrection

While I’d like to pretend that substantial change and progress has been made in the political polarization and unregulated violence that manifested itself in the attack on the capitol, that can’t honestly be said. In reflecting on the validity of the riot and the tension that fueled it, a concerning amount of Americans still believe that the event was justified and that if elected leaders aren’t “protecting America” in the ways that they deem necessary, then the people can and should take action however they see fit. Even though such a large-scale attack on democracy has not been imitated or successfully imitated in the last year, that doesn’t mean that the beliefs behind the riot have disappeared. I believe that it is important, not just on the anniversary of this day, to talk about the event, its impacts, its causes and not just see it as another piece in the chaotic puzzle that was 2021. It was terrifying and shocking for helpless people across America to watch the riot go down, and those feelings should not be minimized or forgotten. To continue to spark change and fight division, we have to reflect on everything that made the infamous Jan. 6 riot what it was: who was responsible, what we can take away from it and how we move forward. A year has passed and while many would like to leave the insurrection behind us, its impacts still ring into today.

The Capitol insurrection is not only a question about ideals, but a question about prevention

The only thing I can say right now is that there is no Insurrection at the Capitol today compared to last year.

But I feel as if that’s somewhat insightful in and of itself (and necessary to pad out my boring opinion), mainly in how we responded to the Capitol Riots. Or, I should say, responded after a few months afterwards. Although we had good coverage once the riot happened, immediately afterwards, most people’s opinions drifted towards interpreting the riots in ways that benefitted themselves. Biden took it as a sign of the resilience of democracy in his inauguration speech, while others believed it highlighted its flaws due to the absurdity of people denying the vote count and being encouraged by the former president, no less.

I don’t want to invalidate those perspectives. But I feel that by focusing on them, we lose out on more pragmatic ways of thinking. We should think about long-term ramifications both practical and ideological, but lately, I feel as if we should do better at preventing more incidents. There can be another QAnon seeping in the distance, and our best efforts are to prevent it instead of experiencing a repeat then descending into chaos. There are already efforts to do so, from researching the spread of radical political ideologies from 4chan to understanding the psychology of those who join radical groups, alongside more immediate trials of each of the insurrection participants, but I feel as this should be a more consistent focus. And with that, we must consider our ideals. We have to consider how rights to privacy, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly apply and how to incorporate them into our strategies without violating them.

I could be wrong when I say I feel there aren’t enough efforts. It’s highly possible they’re invisible, not as heavily reported as, say, that one QAnon shirtless shaman. Although journalism does require the facts, it still needs to tell a story. But I feel as if we need to sometimes separate ourselves from our emotions and put more effort into making sure this, or any disasters similar to this, never happen again.

Insurrection’s one-year-anniversary brings up old debates

As I listen to the clacking of the keyboards and soft murmur of voices in the Rubicon classroom I think back to last year and remember the insurrection of the Capital. Conflicting feelings were warring throughout my mind as a became shocked at the privilege a person has to attack the Capitol and to not expect retribution or consequences. I imagine the fear polluting the air and overcoming the congressmen’s senses as the rioters attempt to break in, at that moment they must have felt powerless. As I reflect on my feelings during that day I compare the insurrection to the BLM protests that were taking place and the tear gas, rubber bullets, and smoke grenades that were used against them. The mob outside the Capitol contained people with the intent to carry out bodily harm and property destruction. I also felt a sense of satisfaction that Trump was blamed and his supporters were placed in an unfavorable light because I did not realize the impossibility of the insurrection occurring. A severe attack on the Capitol has not happened in a very long time and since I am younger I had to have that part explained, how the older generations were even more shocked. I am also frustrated with the security while they could not have predicted it but they should have dissuaded the Trump supporters from relying on violence. While Trump is ultimately at fault for the escalation of events the supporters are responsible for their actions.

Reflection and acceptance of Jan. 6 insurrection

The first thing I remember when thinking of Jan. 6, 2021 is feeling that none of what I was seeing could be real. It took a while to digest what happened: an attack on our democracy. Looking back, I remember very few of my classes acknowledged what had occurred. Such an event seemed outside the realm of what should be covered in biology, pre-calc, or Spanish. However, in history, we took the time to discuss how we felt about the insurrection and what this moment and history would mean for our country. Hearing how my classmates felt helped me to accept what had happened. Our country was, and still remains, divided and full of hate.

Now that a full year has passed since the Jan. 6 insurrection, many people’s emotions and opinions about the event have faded in their intensity. Though, a Christmas card my grandmother received included a prayer for our democracy. On Christmas day, just slightly before the anniversary, my family discussed this friend who keeps our democracy in her thoughts and prayers. Some family members found this idea ridiculous, why does our democracy need your prayers? Aren’t there other things and people that need them more? I did not feel strongly opposed to these questions until hearing a statement that my dad made: the insurrection was precisely an attack on our democracy, insurgents did not accept the result of our election, arguably the cornerstone of democracy. Though I now disagreed with the arguments that my family posed saying that our democracy was fine, I knew prayers were not the answer. Much more has to be done going forward into 2022 to address the events of Jan. 6 2021.

Could there be a next time?

I remember Jan. 6 clearly. I was attending distance learning English class in the back conference room of my parent’s office, and I could hear my dad turning on the news. At first, I was confused. My dad usually reads the news. He never turns on the live stream at work. At this point, I wasn’t concerned with class. Our teacher’s expectations seemed insignificant compared to the words coming from the other room. I went to the New York Times first. I didn’t know what my dad was watching, but it had to be serious. I spent the rest of the class listening to my teacher in one ear, the news broadcast from the other room in the other, and staring at the photos on the front page of The New York Times.
A year later, the situation still frustrates me. It frustrates me that what happened that day wasn’t taken more seriously. I understand that the investigation is ongoing, but it seems like not much has happened in response to the insurrection. Seven hundred people have been arrested, but who’s responsible for their organization and motivation? Will former President Donald Trump incite another insurrection if he doesn’t win the 2024 election? The United States is a country that prides itself on its democracy. Why, then, when our political system is threatened, is it okay? What stops the capital insurrection from happening again or from being more successful?

Check the news and reflect

It’s like time has stopped. We were a nation divided, and well, we’re still a nation divided. Everything has become political. Threats and accusations are thrown left and right. From vaccinations, to masking, to public policy there is no consensus. Mistrust floats in the air just as infectious as Omicron itself.

Right now in the news, there’s still a lot to be uncovered. Depending on what news site you go to, there is different information, misinformation- the thing that some people say was a factor of the insurrection. Social media and the online web, where we get our news, is where the planning of the insurrection occurred. Today as many commemorative events are being held, many Republicans are not present at the Capitol.

However as much as we are a nation divided, the violence we saw at the Capitol represents a smaller portion of the population than we may think. It’s still not okay that people believe violence was an answer, but we can’t assume that everyone who holds an opposing view as us is as horrible as a rioter.

A year later, America remains split

One year later, so much has changed, yet so much has also stayed the same. President Biden has now held office for more than a year, and the country has remained a stable global power. COVID-19 cases continue to rise, and people get aggravated at the government and defy its authority. It brings me back to exactly one year ago today. Jan. 6, 2020. The day of the capital insurrection. While I honestly don’t remember much about this day, a few core memories stick out in my head. It was a cold day of distance learning. I was sitting in the leather reclining chair in the corner of my bedroom. When my older brother opened the door, I was sitting in some random class, bored out of my mind. He said, “you have to check out the news” before leaving. Confused, I opened up Instagram and saw roughly 25 posts highlighting what had happened. I was pretty shocked. I just felt it was a weird, unnecessary, and utterly random thing to happen. Looking back a year later, my confusion remains. The insurrection didn’t do anything in the long run and only brought more fear into America. As we leave that dark moment of American history in the past, I can only hope that the day of Jan. 6 is forgotten.

The news from one year ago still divides us

The capitol insurrection was exactly one year ago, Jan. 6, 2021. I remember coming home from school that day to hear my mom say there was something going on at the capitol building in Washington D.C., that something was wrong. She turned on the TV and I watched the swarm of people, news commentators speaking frantically. It seemed like something that would happen in a television drama series, not in real life. Though it was somewhat distant from my own life in the Twin Cities, it still felt like a strikingly important moment that demonstrated the division in our country. In the days following, any time I opened social media I saw images of the chaos. Today, most headlines are reminders of the attack. Everyone seems to be asking the questions, “Where are we now? How have things changed?” In my eyes, our country is still sharply divided. We still struggle to figure out how to come together, and if anything, the violence at the capitol separated us even further. On the one-year anniversary of something so horrific, we need to rebuild and reconnect our fragmented country, which is what we should have been doing for so long.

A year later, American democracy remains as polarized as ever

Jan. 6th was a terrifying opportunity for America to turn its paralyzing political division around. It could have been the breaking point that made it impossibly clear to each and every American that the state of politics one year ago was not sustainable. It could have been the obvious manifestation of American political division spread too thin. But rather, it marked only continued ruptures to American democracy. 365 days later, this country remains horrifically close to a collapsed democracy, something we all should fear. How could we not do more to heal the wounds the Capitol Attack so viciously represented? As Donald Trump remains an eligible candidate to sit in the White House come 2024, each day marks the path to a more polarized America. After the colossal damage he has insinuated and cultivated, why does he remain the dominant figure of his party? And most importantly, how and where does the journey to the reclamation of a thriving American democracy begin?


The original Victoria Pickering photo can be found at Flickr CC. 

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