January 9th was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
All year round, “Back the Blue” signs are displayed on the lawns of local businesses and homes in my area. I clap when driving past a home where it was accompanied by a “Black Lives Matter” sign. “Thin blue line” flags and “Blue Lives Matter” bumper stickers adorn cars as a loud and clear message with an insidious twist.
I have no issue with supporting police officers who follow their credo to “serve and protect” without consideration for skin color, religion, gender presentation, or sexual orientation. I have known good cops throughout my life. When I was a child, I was taught to trust police officers, but I was a little white girl who was raised in a middle-class neighborhood. As a parent, I never had to have “the talk” with my blond haired son to remind him to be cautious so as not to invoke the ire of officers.
My problem is that this well-intentioned sentiment to support officers has been weaponized.
If I was courageous, I would inquire of people whose cars I see in parking lots what the emblems mean to them. Often, they are accompanied by bumper stickers endorsing T.F.G. (the former guy) or disparaging the current president.
My car décor puts me squarely on the left of center, crunchy granola, tree hugging hippie team—as they read, “Hate Has No Home Here” and “Arms Are For Hugging.” No one has stopped me to ask what they mean to me. I also get the sense that no one feels intimidated when they observe them. Eye-rolling amusement, maybe, if they don’t have the same sentiments. I have the sense that displaying Blue signs and flags are meant to be an “in yo face” act.
A few days after the first anniversary of the January 6th insurrection, I am still reeling and my gut is still twisting about what occurred and the ripple effect that day wrought. Having seen the imagery over and over in the interceding 12 months, I have absorbed the trauma vicariously. I know of people who live in my county who showed up with the intention to overturn the outcome of a free and fair election. Some were arrested for attacking the Capitol building. Even if they didn’t behave violently and didn’t enter the building, they attempted to disrupt a peaceful transition.
The incendiary words, “Hang Mike Pence,” was a threat to his life. I have no doubt that had the Capitol police officers who evacuated Pence and his family from the building not acted quickly, the world would have witnessed an execution in real time. The QAnon Shaman pleaded guilty in September to one felony count of obstruction for his role in trying to block the counting of the 2020 Electoral College votes. He was sentenced to 41 months with three years of probation to follow. The howling, face painted, bare chested, Viking horn helmet wearing face of the riots willingly, knowingly broke the law. The dude who stormed in and plunked himself down at Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk is awaiting sentencing. Others have received varying jail terms. Inquiring minds want to know how people who delightedly took selfies and did Facebook Lives thought they would evade identification, capture, and conviction.
The former president was observed to have been “gleeful” as he watched the horrors on the screen over and over. For those who lived it, from the front lines and not from the comfort and safety of a room while surrounded by family and close supporters, the trauma of re-watching it was not in the least pleasurable.
Many of them were police officers who were assaulted by those who claim to back them.
According to the police union, 140 officers were injured. At least 52 of those who were arrested were either active duty or retired military or police personnel. Officer Brian Sicknick died on January 7th following two strokes. His longtime partner, Sandra Garza holds Trump “100 percent responsible” for what happened and declared that he needs to be incarcerated. This, despite the fact that they had been supporters who helped put him in office. Four died by suicide in the days following. PTSD haunts others.
“Look at all of the people fighting for me,” Trump expressed as he kept hitting the rewind on the TV. By all accounts, he needs the adulation that came along with the job for which he was ill equipped and couldn’t imagine losing in the 2020 election. He tried everything to overturn the votes, and when it didn’t work, he called on his followers to do his dirty work for him.
His niece, the insightful Mary Trump spoke about how fragile her uncle’s mind was and how now “the walls were closing in on him.” She called his loss, “a narcissistic injury the likes of which he has never felt before. There was no way for him to recover from it. The only way he could mitigate it was to pretend it hadn’t happened.” It doesn’t take a PhD in clinical psychology to get that the man is acting on self-aggrandizing needs with no filters in place. He will attempt to do whatever it takes to hold the place he thinks he should occupy in the world. Her new book is called Reckoning and in it she expresses clearly that the country is deeply traumatized by her uncle’s presidency and the aftermath.
What is the cognitive dissonance that occurs in the mind of someone who values law and order, to have them breaking the law, threatening life and limb, and rising up against a government that was still in the hands of the one they voted for?
How could they use the American flag that they may fly from the back of their pickup truck or hoist on a flagpole in their front yard, quite visible from the road, as a weapon against the men and women in blue?
Did the former president believe at his core that the VP would betray his oath? “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same: that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
I also wonder what went through the minds of those huddled under desks who knew this was brewing and perhaps even contributed to planning the horror that unfolded. Did they think it would get this bad? Did they fear for their safety or did they count on the president to call a halt to it before they were murdered? Did they think they were invulnerable and invincible? If the police and National Guard had not done their duty, there would have been mass slaughter.
How can the Capitol police go to work each day knowing they are protecting those who helped to instigate the events of January 6th or who are attempting to obfuscate what occurred on that day that will leave an indelible scar on our country?
How can anyone who voted for him, not have deep regrets and remorse? This is what they voted for.
Can they look children in the eye and tell them that it’s okay to be a sore loser and that some people with power don’t have to follow the rules? Could they blatantly tell them that if you don’t get your way, it’s okay to use violence to do so? A shocking 30 percent of Americans polled (they didn’t ask me, by the way), said that it is acceptable to use violence against the government.
If they are in law enforcement or have family members or friends who are, can they imagine what would have happened if they had been on the front lines doing battle for the lives of the lawmakers who were doing their own sworn duty? What if they had lost someone they treasured or saw them being assaulted on live TV? Could they still cheer on the man who set the wheels in motion?
As the January 6th Commission is closing in on the man behind the curtain, or rather, the podium, inviting the rioters to the tear the place apart, may justice be done.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” ~ Voltaire