By: Jasmin Prasad
As President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office today, the events of January 6th still loomed in the air, where during a constitutionally mandated Congressional hearing, the United States was forced to face the most vicious and most potent threat to its democracy: white supremacy.
It is evident that something is wrong when you see the seat of the Vice President occupied by someone not named “Mike Pence,” and actually wished it was Mike Pence instead.
The rebarbative image of Josiah Colt — a supporter of former President Donald Trump — sitting in former Vice President Mike Pence’s chair is a quite literal embodiment of difference in treatment based solely on skin color. But let’s be blunt: a random white man sitting in the chair of a highly respected governmental position isn’t inherently a surprise.
The riot that occurred at the capitol did not happen in a vacuum. 4 years of “Trumpism’’ has fueled an unprecedented nihilism that has deviated away from even the most traditional conservative values. Valuing the rule of law, constitutional procedure and stability, and accepting the results of free and fair elections being the most obvious.
If there’s one thing these white nationalists proved during these attacks, it’s that quite ironically, they do not respect those in uniform who wish to uphold the law. White supremacists don’t care about the rule of law: they only care about police departments when they are used in such a way to preserve white supremacy.
Professor Leslie Jacobs, Director at McGeorge School of Law, speaks of the legal challenges that prevent law enforcement entities from cracking down on white supremist groups. Where, while hate speech is protected, incitement is not.
“If they’re making threats, if they are making plans to do something illegal or if they are actually inciting other people to do things illegal… that is incitement,” Jacobs maintains. In terms of tracking people down for the prevention of such acts, Jacobs believes it is an issue of resources and coordination.
Watching the events unfold in DC, it is clear that there was an unnerving lack of coordination between law enforcement entities. Where, according to Jacobs, “there were the capitol police who were at the capitol, the DC mayor who is in charge of the perimeter, homeland security and the FBI… these are all the different levels of entities responsible for protecting the capitol and they were not communicating.”
The self-evident lack of communication did not go unnoticed to Manbir Kaur, Political Science, ’23. Kaur states, “As I watched the attack on the capital unfold, I was shocked, devastated, and outraged. It felt surreal to witness these people attempt to intimidate lawmakers to overturn a fair election.” Suffice it to say, these sentiments are held on large account by many Americans — or at least those who accept the results of a fair election.
There is currently large amounts of discourse about whether the aforementioned instigator of the riot, former President Donald Trump, can be held legally accountable for the events that ensued.
Jacobs notes that in terms of criminal prosecution, the prosecution would have to prove that Trump spoke with the intent to persuade people to engage in such actions.
Conversely, there is the possibility of impeachment where “that standard doesn’t have to be met… senators are looking more at norms of behavior,” says Jacobs. Most certainly, it does not seem that the former President has acted within normal bounds of behavior, from his first impeachment to his second.
If it is still hard to wrap your head around the fact that what occurred at the capitol is a gross mis justice to our democratic system, then reference a statement signed by more than 75% of all law school deans representing accredited institutions in the country.
In, “Law Deans Joint Statement on the 2020 Election and Events at the Capitol,” the riot is rightfully acclaimed as a “The violent attack on the Capitol [that] was an assault on our democracy and the rule of law. The effort to disrupt the certification of a free and fair election was a betrayal of the core values that undergird our Constitution.”
At the very least, believe Law Deans who have gone through extensive legal training and have taken oaths to preserve the rule of law.