This Is America

In the days since an enraged mob of domestic terrorists stormed the US Capitol building on Wednesday, spurred on by the president to thwart the free exchange of executive power, some media and politicians have proposed abstentions that seek to disinfect and isolate chaotic images of a futile coup attempt. are broadcast all over the world. “This is not America,” they sing. “This is not us. We are better than that. ” Truth?

To perpetuate the vision of the United States as a clear model of justice based on democratic principles and egalitarian ideals is to propagate the great American myth. Still, the country’s top influencers remain steadfast in their support for America’s fearless righteousness: President-elect Joe Biden said in his speech Wednesday that the infamous episode does not represent “true America.” Apparently, it was a small minority of offenders who have come from some other place – not to mention the fact that in times of extreme political polarization over 70 percent of Republican voters said they did not trust the results of the elections in 2020 , according to a review of the NPR / PBS NewsHour / Marist.

Hopeful reassurances that “this is not us” effectively blur the stains in American history – the fact that slavery, segregation, imperialism, rampant inequality, gun violence, systemic racism, and a host of other social ills are the forefathers of our contemporary plight. … It is also a platitude that many people find offensive, as it effectively erases the struggles of those who exist in a very different country than an imaginary country in which justice prevails and everyone has an equal chance of making the American Dream a reality.

Instead of saying “this is not America” or “we are better than this,” we should all discuss the next social upheaval in a way that actually addresses the issue with a clearer perspective, more nuance and sensitivity.

Why do you have to stop saying this

Most of the time, if you say “we are better than this,” it comes from good intentions and optimism. But it’s a reductive statement that underscores, albeit ironically, the circumstances that led to Wednesday’s dire events.

If you want to talk about it, you should at least try to sound like you’re not obscuring the uncomfortable but distinctly American tone of this episode. To start, you need to examine the events of the environment not only in the broader historical context that shaped inequality in the United States for centuries, but also specifically citing the last four years as the kerosene that accelerated the fire: the presidency of Donald Trump propelled conspiracy theories into the mainstream, encouraging winks to movements white supremacists and spawned an ecosystem of misinformation and “alternative facts” that peaked this week in the form of an uprising fueled by the speculation that the 2020 election was rigged.

You also need to understand the dark cloud of racism looming over Wednesday’s events: the crowd was almost always white, which may at least partially explain the slow response of the Washington DC and Capitol police to the attempted burglary of the government headquarters. … In contrast, Black Lives Matter protests last summer in Washington gathered the presence of militarized police, the members of the National Guard stood on guard at the steps of the Capitol in full tactical gear.

The treasures that rained down on the Capitol were genuinely American, including QAnon conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, Holocaust deniers , and at least one CEO of a Chicago corporation . If you want to explain why we are not better than this, you must explain why we are not better than this — and that starts with understanding the forces that have given the revolt of the environment an unmistakable American flavor.

Say these things instead

We can voice our opinions and lament the dire state of affairs, but that doesn’t sound so rude or misinformed. American history has a lot to do with eternal pursuit. It is normal to note that we have not achieved truly all-round greatness, but that the struggle to make the nation a true beacon of equality must continue.

Instead of agreeing that “we are better than this,” try thinking in more inspiring terms. Let’s take a more subtle perspective by saying, “I think we can be better than this, but there is work to be done.” Instead of saying: “This is not America,” may be, it seems to say “it certainly is America, but it should not be.”

To ignore the current American reality is to deprive the voice of so many people who have long understood that this version of America exists because they simply cannot escape it. You certainly don’t need to erase them – or pay tribute to false American ideals – simply because times are tough.

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