About last week’s riots at the U.S. Capitol. This seems like old news. And it seemed like recent news. It’s neither. Statements such as “This isn’t who we are” are part of the “lies we tell ourselves about race.” Trump’s racism was known for many years, made even more public with his birther lie about Obama. And among the mobs at the Capitol that day, hate was on full display, and it must continue to be called out.
We have seen all the pictures of the damage to the U.S. Capitol, “the altar of our democracy, the sacred gathering spot of those who served, strove and died building this nation.” However, if were about criminal vandalism alone, it would be enough. If it were about the attack on our capital and Capitol, it would be enough. If it were about the attack on the sacredness of our democracy, it would be enough. It was something more sinister: hate.
Do not envy evil men;
Do not desire to be with tem;
For their hearts talk violence;
And their lips speak mischief.
Proverbs 24,1-2, translation by the Jewish Publication Society
The city is renewed upon its ancient ruins.
The scavengers are scattered,
the devourers have fled.”
Lecha Dodi, sung during the Jewish Friday night service, as translated by Marcia Prager, Jewish Renewal
Or a more recent telling by David Brooks: “But there are dark specters running through our nation — beasts with shaggy manes and feral teeth. They have the stench of Know-Nothingism, the hot blood of the lynchers, and they ride the winds of nihilistic fury.”
Both the Times of Israel and the Forward identified Neo Nazi groups such as Baked Alaska, the Goyper Army (with their America First flag), Proud Boys, NSC-131, the Oath Keepers, along with “anti-circumcision” creeds. Crusader crosses, a holy religious symbol misappropriated by individuals glorifying an era of white, Christian wars against Muslims and Jews, are prominent. CNN identified the Three Percenters (an antigovernment militia group, Proud Boys “OK hand symbols,” the anti-Semitic Kekistan flag (home of Pepe the Frog), Oath Keepers with their black and gold hats, a man with a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt. The Conversation noted the Mussolini-era 6MWE symbol.” an acronym common among the far right code for “6 Million Wasn’t Enough.” Reporters from WBEZ, Chicago, noted the Neo-Nazi neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker Party, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. “Find the traitors; get the rope,” said another White Supremacist on the social media board Parler, a haven for bigotry. Only after two days following the riots was the violent app banned from Google and Apple.
Even more conspicuous were the bearded man wearing a “Camp Auschwitz sweatshirt, noted by a Dr. Eva Umlauf, a 78-year-old survivor of that death camp. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Dr. Umlauf said. “It really broke a taboo. I never would have believed that was possible from Americans.” Shirts emblazoned with popular 14-word white supremacist slogan, visible on signs outside the Capitol on Wednesday, reads “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The White Genocide Manifesto.” Its 14 planks insist that Jews are not white and actually endanger white civilization. “All Western nations are ruled by a Zionist conspiracy to mix, overrun and exterminate the White race,” the manifesto’s seventh plank reads.
If none of this is enough, Confederate flags and nooses were plenty visible. (The stark contrast of the lack of action by police and security on January 6 and protests involving people of color would provide sufficient material for a whole other column.)
The Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, part of The Arc, in a statement noted “The response to the riot, which stood in stark contrast to recent responses to racial justice protests and symbols used by rioters – including the confederate flag and nooses on the Capitol lawn exemplify our nation’s racism and we urge that the rioters be held accountable for their actions to the full extent of the law.”
No, not all those in Washington were white supremacists, racists, bigots. They were following the crowds. They were, as Arnold Schwartznegger said, rapt in the the cynicism of so much public discourse, as our country sinking into an abyss. But hate spreads quickly among people. And that’s why me must never, ever stop calling out hate.