Editorial: A dark day for America


Photo credit: Aoc.gov

The Capitol in March of 2013. The events that unfolded on Jan. 6 was a dark day for America and the future of American history. The U.S. Capitol was last stormed in 1814 during the tension of The War of 1812.

By 20-21 Oracle Editorial Board, Editorial Board

Two weeks ago, we witnessed what we can appropriately call one of the darkest days in American history. On Jan. 6, a crowd of pro-Trump rioters marched up to and violently broke into the Capitol as the Senate and House were in session counting votes to confirm Joe Biden’s presidential win. This attack on our Capitol building and politicians should have never happened in the first place and could have been prevented. We must set a precedent that an event like this can never occur again by holding everyone who incited it accountable. 

After the presidential election and leading up to the events of Jan. 6, President Donald Trump tweeted to his supporters about a “big protest” that would take place the day Congress convened to formally count and approve the electoral votes. At his rally in  D.C, Trump told his followers, “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” 

Within a few hours, Congress was on lockdown as pro-Trump rioters, decked in MAGA gear, confederate flags and white supremacist paraphernalia  broke through windows and doors and vandalized the nation’s capital. The rioters filled the Senate chamber just minutes after the representatives had been ushered from the room. Offices and displays were destroyed, a police officer was killed, a noose was erected and the message was clear: these rioters were willing to contest the election and fight for Trump no matter the cost.

As Trump fought and lost various lawsuits, he continued to push the stolen election message across all social media platforms, gaining support from various Republican officials including multiple members of congress such as Sen. Josh Hawley R-Mo. and Sen. Ted Cruz R-Texas. On Jan. 6, the senate gathered to officially count the electoral votes, an event, claiming there was voter fraud in swing states that Joe Biden had won.

As a result of the dangerous and alarming attack, social media platforms, from Twitter to Spotify, have banned President Trump. Facebook led the ban, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg stating that allowing him to continue to use the platform would be a risk.

Twitter, a platform which Trump had 88.7 million followers on, was initially suspended based on his tweets leading up to the Capitol building attack; his account was then removed entirely after he tweeted he would not be attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, which Twitter claimed could be viewed as a suggestion for an attack at the event.

Arguments against the bans have been made by various parties, claiming that deleting Trump and others’ accounts are a violation of free speech. The First Amendment which states that the government cannot punish free speech except in very narrow circumstances, doesn’t apply to private companies such as Twitter. Additionally, these social media platforms have community guidelines that clearly state what is and isn’t allowed, and the consequences of account suspension or deletion that come with a violation of the guidelines.

The real issue with the media ban is why now? Why after four years of calling white supremacists “decent people,” calling the Black Lives Matter protesters “thugs” and months upon months of false claims of election fraud, what made these platforms finally decide enough was enough? Why did we have to wait until an angry mob broke into the Capitol and the lives of our nation’s representatives were threatened?

This event could have been prevented if Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other platforms had taken a stance against widespread misinformation and inciting violence. We must hold our leaders and representatives accountable for the violence they have caused. While Trump can no longer make baseless claims on Twitter, there are plenty of officials who can, officials who walked into the senate chamber with the same goal as the rioters, to oppose a fair election and peaceful transition of power. These leaders are also complicit in inciting violence and have, and continue to spread misinformation on their platforms.

To say “this isn’t America” is not true: “his is the America that Black people know. To declare that this is not America is to deny the reality that Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate incited this coup by treasonously working to overturn the results of the presidential election,” Representative Cori Bush wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post.

This event was an attack on democracy, an attack on a fair and free election. This disgusting violation of our nation’s Capitol is a direct cause of the hate that Trump has incited for the past four years. This event represents the state of our country and division in politics, and these events were the results of the lies and violence encouraged by our nation’s leaders, and we cannot just accept and move on from a preventable attack. We must hold those involved accountable, and push for media platforms to enforce their guidelines in place for the safety of others and our nation, so that we may never again have to witness an attack on our representatives and our democracy.