I received pushback on my blog concerning my word for 2022 – civility.
“I found it curious that you cited the Jan 6 insurrection but did not mention the unrest in Minneapolis, the Seattle occupation of 6 city blocks for 21 days, and destroying a police precinct, and the 25 deaths, thousands of injuries, over 14,000 arrests, all the businesses destroyed and a couple of billion dollars in damage, and BLM and Antifa connected to many of the civil violence and unrest actions in 2020, I say this because I do not believe a single action that happened on Jan 6 can incite a civil war or would make me worry about it, but In my humble opinion- ALL these acts over the past several years have contributed to the concerns of civil war that you have … It is easy to twist any of this for political convenience, right or left…”
It’s like the difference between an apple and an orange to me. Here is my response:
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” – James R. Schlesinger
To understand the difference between the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the BLM protests in Minneapolis, Seattle, or even here in Asheville, NC, I offer several different areas for your consideration and understanding.
Simply put, the insurrection on January 6th, 2021 was disloyal to the U.S. Constitution. The insurrection took place at the heart of our democracy, the U.S. Capitol. Protests are a part of democracy. The BLM protests were on the streets and were a call for acknowledgment of the untaught ugly history of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) over the past 400+ years, the unequal, unfair treatment of BIPOC compared to white, and the call to make right has been made wrong in the past.
True democracy in America only goes back to 1965, the year the Voting Rights Act guaranteed to ALL American citizens, regardless of race. Forty-three years later, we elected a Black president. As in the past, the rise of Black people to political power made some white Americans question the wisdom of democracy. Personally, I saw white people cringe and shake their heads when I was doing diversity workshops at the City of Asheville back in 2014 when I shared that by 2045, “white people” will be a minority according to the US Census. This is the main concern of The Proud Boys, The Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, the Alt-right, and the KKK. Here is the unspoken ‘elephant-in-the-room,’ – these groups want to ‘Make America Great Again’ beginning with being as white, male, Christian, and heterosexual as possible. After all, America was invaded by white, male, Christian, heterosexual people and made for white, male, Christian, heterosexual people.
I do not condone the violence and destruction of property by the BLM protests, but this video clip, How Can We Win? may help you get a Black and POC perspective on violence and destruction of BLM protests. It is crucial to understand the facts of the history of the BIPOC in the United States. White people have never treated BIPOC well. Beginning with the indigenous people who lived on the soil of America, white people scorned the indigenous, treated them as less than human, stole their land, broke treaties, and continue to treat the indigenous poorly.
Then there is the sordid history of how white people have treated Black and POC. There have been three countries that have promoted chattel slavery on this earth – India, the United States, and Nazi Germany. Guess where Nazi Germany learned about chattel slavery? – The Jim Crow south of The United States.
I ask you to learn and understand the untaught, ugly history of BIPOC including:
– why Blacks did not receive Social Security back when it was implemented in 1935
– why over 1 million Black GI’s were denied the GI Bill
– why the average wealth of a white family is 10 times greater than the average wealth of a Black family
– why threatened with death if Black and POC voted in elections
– why the infant mortality rate of Black and POC children is 2.3 times greater than white children
– why the life expectancy of a Black male is at least 4 years less than a white male
– the systemic and institutional racism that contributes to ‘Driving while Black,’ ‘Running while Black,’ ‘The Talk,’ ‘The Look,’ ‘The Choice,’ ‘Buying while Black at Kroger,’ ‘Buying while Black at Walmart.’
I would encourage you to have hard-to-hear conversations on these topics with BIPOC. Do your homework on a couple of these topics and then go share with a BIPOC what you learned and ask them to validate ‘Driving while Black,’ ‘The Talk,’ ‘The Look.’
One of the most powerful encounters I had just before COVID hit, was going with four other white men and five Black men to watch the movie, Just Mercy. Afterward, we sat around a large table and talked about the movie and how close to home it was for the Black men among us. We white men had no idea and could not relate.
What do you suppose is the history of the insurrection participants who were front and center at the January 6th insurrection? Do you think these people have experienced anything close to what BIPOC has experienced the past 400+ years? Have they experienced injustice, inequality, and trauma? Many of these groups were tied to the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, which Trump said were “good people.” Trump at the September 29, 2020 debate with Biden was quoted as telling the Proud Boys, directly to “stand back and stand by.”
If you go back to my blog and open the links for the political instability checklist leading to the demise of democracy, you will find 10 major causes:
– If the rights and freedoms of the people are not respected or are trampled upon, then it is very easy for instability to emerge.
– Corruption and mismanagement of the wealth of a country has over the years been shown to be one of the biggest factors responsible for political instability.
– An election that is characterized by rigged votes and intimidation of voters and that is not free and fair is one of the major causes of political instability in many countries across the globe.
– When the majority of the people are impoverished and cannot find jobs, they vent their anger on the government. Many countries have suffered from instability as a result of this.
– When members of opposing parties of the government are deliberately targeted and prosecuted for no apparent reason, this can easily give rise to instability in the country.
– When the government decides not to be open and transparent.
– When the citizens constantly live in fear because of a government that prevents them from freely expressing their views or opinions.
– High levels of prejudice in a country also leads to instability. In Africa, ethnic prejudices have over the years led to some of the worst forms of instability.
– A country can easily plunge into political instability when the head of state decides not to step down when his or her time is up. A good example of this is Syria.
The insurrection of January 6th had many of these components including mismanagement of wealth, the unfounded belief the elections of 2021 were not fair or free (over 60 courts have ruled otherwise; multiple recounts by different states included hand counts have shown no evidence to the contrary), suppression of opposition parties, not being open and transparent (evidence is showing this as the committee looks at the January 6th insurrection.)
The seeds of insurrection were planted by Trump when he encouraged attendees at his rallies to “knock the hell” out of protestors, praised a lawmaker who body-slammed a reporter and defended rioters who yelled to “hang Mike Pence.”
And the insurrection continues! For evidence:
Look at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Back in February 2021, she was removed from congressional committees after a series of posts advocating the execution of Democratic members of Congress and embracing elements of the QAnon conspiracy.
Look at Rep. Paul Gosar, who was censured back in November after posting an animated video of himself killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
Look at Rep. Lauren Boebert and the Islamophobic remarks she had made on several occasions which have led to violence towards Muslim Americans.
Look at election officials and their families who have been threatened for certifying the presidential election even after numerous validated recounts affirmed by our courts.
Look at lawmakers and politicians and their families who have been threatened for voting their conscience and values and not going along with GOP party lines.
Look at a conservative rally in Idaho back in October, when one man stepped up to the microphone and asked when he could start killing Democrats? Ben Adams, an Idaho State Representative, replied, “That’s a fair question to ask.”
Look at Josh Mandel, former Ohio State Treasurer and candidate for U.S. Senate, urging Republicans to resist tyranny and said, “When the Gestapo shows up at your front door, you know what to do.”
One of the conversations I have with coaching clients is about their risk matrix. On one axis is risk, on the other axis is benefit. For common BIPOC, their risk matrix is benefit low and risk high. For me, as a white male (and most whites in the U.S.), my risk matrix is high benefit and low risk because of the tailwinds of being white throughout my life. Until these two different matrices become more symmetrical, you will see BIPOC in the streets protesting, and you will see insurrection growing as whites fight to maintain the status quo.
I’ll end with this quote from Omar Wasow, a poli sci professor at Pomona College who studies protests and race from the past to the present, “What’s different about almost all those other events is that now, there’s a partisan divide around the legitimacy of our political system,” he said. “The elite endorsement of political violence from factions of the Republican Party is distinct for me from what we saw in the 1960s. Then, you didn’t have — from a president on down — politicians calling citizens to engage in violent resistance.”
Evidence points out civility is on life support in the ICU.