My first impression of protesters ascending the steps of our Capitol was concerning but not overwhelming. At the time I saw order and peaceful protest. We should all remember that the overwhelming majority of those protesters wanted no part of the rioting.
As media coverage of this event continued, it became clear that the focus of some of the protesters was more than peaceful protest and that concerns about a break-in were obvious. Minutes later our Capitol was under siege. What had seemed to be a peaceful protest had turned into riotous and destructive behavior. Under any standard, this was protest gone wrong for America.
In retrospect, I was watching flashbacks of what I had seen just months prior to this event in cities and towns across America. Protest and riotous behavior that erupted as a result of the death of George Floyd on May 25th, continued throughout the summer, resulting in widespread arson, vandalism, looting, curfews, death, thousands of arrests and the highest recorded damage from civil disorder in U.S. history.
Although most of those protests were peaceful and orderly, obviously that was not always the case. As protest turned to riot, coverage was tolerant and even forgiving at times from the media and most progressive politicians. Condemnation was virtually sidelined and the protests and riots continued through the summer. Clearly, this dismissive coverage exposes one standard for dealing with these events.
Recent protests in Portland, Oregon, on the first full day of Biden’s presidency also transitioned into full-scale rioting, vandalism, and property damage to denounce police activity, the ICE agency and even President Biden and the Democratic Party. So far that behavior has been unchallenged by the Biden administration and matches the acceptance and non-action standards of last summer.
But the recent protests and riots at the Capitol set the stage for outrage and political disgust among Democrats and some Republicans in a major way. Suddenly that particular protest and riotous behavior stands alone as a standard that should make history. Subsequent to that event statements of outrage have reached a political fervor that boggles the imagination compared to the standards imparted for other riots in 2020.
Chuck Schumer compared it to the bombing at Pearl Harbor and others likened it to the 911 attacks. As you might expect, National Guard troops were called in to restore order at the Capitol, fighting ensued, people were hurt and people were killed. The action taken by the Guard to restore order was appropriate as was the condemnation.
Protest turned to riot is always wrong for America in my opinion. In each case it is wrong in differing degrees but in every case it is wrong. A political system that stands for unity and tolerates differing standards for right and wrong is not likely to unify. To preach unification and practice division should be a major concern for progressives.