Engaging Culture

When The Capitol Building Was Attacked, Here’s What I Saw

What happened yesterday at the Capitol was shameful, embarrassing, and infuriating. There were photos of one of the idiots holding a Confederate flag in the lobby, and to my knowledge, a Confederate flag has never breeched the Capitol building – even during the Civil War.

And just as frustrating, as we’ve sought immunity from the COVID-19 virus, we’ve also nearly become immune to the violent protests throughout the past year. Remember when as many as 10,000 protesters took over the Wisconsin State Capitol building? Or when protesters set up CHAZ – the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” over a six block area of Seattle and set fire to the police station – and the mayor called it a “summer of love?”

Or CNN’s famous “Mostly peaceful protests?”

Thugs are thugs no matter what political persuasion or how many people try to justify and even romanticize violent criminal behavior.

But yesterday, while the latest band of idiots tried to storm the United States Capitol building, on that same day, I was in 3 cities: Los Angeles, Dallas, and New Orleans – and let me tell you what I saw:

Thousands of people going to work.
Getting stuck in traffic jams.
Boarding planes.
Police making their rounds.
Teachers teaching kids on Zoom.
Medical professionals taking care of sick people.
Delivery drivers dropping off packages.
Grocery workers stocking shelves.

When I arrived at my hotel, the clerk was busy fulfilling my online request for an extra foam pillow. I crossed the street and ate dinner at a restaurant (no I wasn’t in LA) and the waiter couldn’t have been nicer. Earlier in the day I was sitting in the airline terminal between an African-American guy and an Italian-American guy and we had a delightful conversation about the Cleveland Browns finally making the playoffs.

The bottom line is that we often forget we live in a media driven culture with hyper-partisan news, and a social media echo chamber. And in the media world, the loudest voices find the biggest audiences.

And it can make people crazy. Or worse – make us think what we see on TV or social media is the heart of America. But outside that world, the vast, vast, vast majority of Americans are going about their business, and just want to do the right thing, raise their families, do good work, and contribute. Even in our worst moments, the thugs aren’t the majority, and the violent voices are the fringe.

That’s not to say that we don’t have serious problems in America. We do, and we need to be vigilant about solving those problems, and fast. But the reflection of America we get from the media distorts who we really are.

Remember, we’ve been through a Civil War and survived. In 1858 a brawl even broke out in the House of Representatives that started with insults and ended in physical blows. More than 30 members joined the melee. This stuff isn’t new, and it’s not the end of the world.

And once again, the morons who stormed the Capitol yesterday – just like the morons who set up CHAZ or loot buildings don’t represent America. This country is made up of millions of good people of all races and backgrounds just trying to do the right thing.

They aren’t violent, don’t set fires, or scream into cameras, they just quietly live their lives.

In spite of the madness that happened yesterday, we’ll figure this out.

And for the record, I’m proud to be part of a country where that can happen.

Photo by Michael Daniels on Unsplash

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  1. Too soon.
    Yes, most people went about their business, but yesterday, uniquely in history, the President of the United States incited his followers to riot at the Capitol in what he knew was a futile attempt to hold on to power.
    “We love you” he said to the rioters, the insurrectionists, who were attempting to overturn the election by violent means as he continued to insist without offering any proof whatsoever that the election had been “stolen”.
    Uniquely in our history, yesterday our President attempted a coup. And for the first time since the War of 1812 our Capitol was breached by troops not loyal the the United States, but to Trump.
    The Trump flag and the Confederate flags flew side by side. The Trump flag…
    And my paper was delivered this morning, and the trash was collected, and I have hot water and I love my children.
    And my country has been gravely, I hope not fatally, wounded.

    And as far as the riots in Seattle, Portland, NYC… If I sin and my brother also sins, have I not sinned?
    And I would argue that the President incited insurrection is the greater sin.
    That I will never forget, because that’s what happened yesterday.

    1. And as terrible as it was, as you say: “And my paper was delivered this morning, and the trash was collected, and I have hot water and I love my children.” We will get through this because ideals matter and we are resilient .

    2. No such thing happened. The President never encouraged any violence, even though Democrats have consistently done so over the past 4 years (Waters, Pelosi, Kamala Harris, Pressley). There were 600,000 who showed up that day, and a small few (including Democrat instigators) walked in, caused minor disturbance, and walked out. Almost as soon as they entered they were gone within the hour. They didn’t take over 6 blocks of a city, create barricades, etc., etc. It’s amazing how selective your memory is considering there were 126 riots over the course of the past 4 years, all of them Democrat promoted, and committing thousands of felonies from massive property damage, to arson, to looting, to assault & battery, rape, and even murder. Where was your and the media’s indignation then?! Nowhere to be found. In fact, the media often lauded such actions. The reality of the matter is that 4 protesters were killed as a result of excessive use of force at the Capitol. Arrests should have been made, rubber bullets should have been used. An open and transparent investigation should be conducted, but more than likely what will happen is that they will try to lay this at the feet of Trump even though they have been the #resist criminals for the past 4 years. Don’t piss on us and tell us it’s rain!

  2. Yes, life does go on, but that is also what lulls us into complacency. We will get through this, yes. But what happened yesterday is the tip of the iceberg; tremendous divisions in our country and culture. in some ways this is not who we are, yet in other ways, it does represent who we are – and we should examine ourselves. what happened yesterday is a marker. without a free press that was harassed yesterday, we would not hear about people dying and confederate flags in the People’s House.

  3. Thank you for this post.
    Was really upset to see all of it.
    The America I have seen is courteous, cultured and conscientious.
    This was more like thug behavior you expect in certain other countries.
    Thank God for your voice of reason!

  4. It is at times like this, I remember what Barbara Bush said:
    “Your success as a family…our success as a nation…depends not on what happens inside the White House, but what happens inside your house.”

  5. Right on Phil! Love the perspective which many seem to overlook. “Energy flows to where focus goes.” So much focus is on the what the media world is sensationalizing instead of the everyday realities that each person faces. We got more important things to do then obsess over all the craziness.

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