Not since the War of 1812 has a violent and massive human crush of this fervid magnitude besieged the U.S. Capitol Building with such blood and vengeance.
Two hundred years ago, it was the British.
This time, it was Americans on Jan. 6.
And this time, it was a gang-like “Animal House” of mostly white Donald Trump supporters who converted the Capitol into their personal playhouse.
Observers worldwide were shocked by this temper tantrum turned insurrection.
Even Pope Francis remarked, “Thank God this exploded (into the open) so it can be seen, so it can be remedied.”
The NBA’s LeBron James, the No. 1 Social Justice Warrior as an active player in pro sports, wore a provocative t-shirt to his Los Angeles Lakers game the next night with this headline inscription: “Do You Understand Now?” With a lengthy subhead: “In memoriam of the countless black lives lost to police brutality and racial injustice.”
James immediately was targeted with backlash on social media.
One post read, “LeBron is living every black man’s dream in the USA and still complaining. Don’t think he’s ever had to face any problems because of his skin color.”
Another: “A white unarmed woman was shot and killed (during the Capitol Building riots). LeBron has never been accused of being the smartest.”
LeBron, with his t-shirt message, was playing the what-if game, which has been in non-stop mode since that day of infamy in Washington.
What if the mob insurgents had been black instead of white? Suppose the rampagers belonged to Black Lives Matter?
Liberals respond one way (they would have been shot enmasse); conservatives answer in opposite fashion (what about the rioting, looting and arson by black protesters in U.S. cities in 2020).
All of this means that, in the social justice world, 2021 began much like 2020 ended.
Full of angst, awkwardness and accusations.
With liberals vs. conservatives and black folk vs. white folk.
And Twitter vs. Parler.
Twitter banning Trump from its platform on Friday night was a huge development. We can see into the future: conservatives will head to conservative-friendly alternatives, such as the beleaguered Parler, plus MeWe and Rumble, depending on the platforms’ availability. Liberals will dominate Twitter.
That means more national division; so take your corner with no mixing or mingling. White conservatives, especially, likely will feel under siege as resentment and resistance continue to foment and fuel this anti-Democrat, anti-election frenzy.
And that under-siege mentality probably will spawn even more attacks by extremists. That can happen when one group feels picked on.
Which also likely means more sightings of the burdensome stars-and-bars flag.
“January 6 may be the first time the Confederate flag was openly displayed in the Capitol building — a shocking sight that, I hope, will never be repeated,” wrote acclaimed Civil War/Reconstruction historian and Columbia professor Dr. Eric Foner for “The Nation” magazine. “But in his opposition to the removal of monuments to Confederate leaders and to renaming military bases on the grounds that they erase ‘our’ history, Trump has consciously identified his presidency with the Confederacy and the white nationalism at its core.”
We can hear the political right’s Chirping Chorus amp up with this familiar free-speech grievance: Why are controversial figures such as Louis Farrakhan and duplicitous leaders from China, Russia and Iran allowed to tweet but not Trump?
From the left: There is visual evidence that appears to show some Capitol Hill police officers taking selfies with members of the mob. And some cops discarding barricades and opening doors, allowing mob members to roam the Capitol’s hallowed halls. What’s up with that?
Those incidents offer real-time reflection into LeBron’s t-shirt message — the disparate police treatment in black and white.
This tug-of-war apparently will continue into perpetuity.
The firings might, too:
-Several Trump supporters participating in the Capitol Coup have lost their jobs,
-An assistant football coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga was dismissed for tweeting demeaning posts about get-out-the-vote-mobilizer Stacey Abrams, calling her “Fat Albert” and “buffet Big Girl.”
-Even a health-care worker in North Carolina — wearing her medical scrubs and stethoscope — was ousted for posting this Capitol reaction video on TikTok: “Now if they could only find (Joe) Biden and shoot him between the eyes that’d be great.”
Vitriol and venom.
Like 2020, like 2021 — so far.
In August 1988, when George H. W. Bush garnered the Republican party’s nomination for president, in his acceptance speech, he issued a special request for a “kinder, gentler nation.”
That social appeal is still relevant 33 years later.