I wrote the following post on Jan 11, 2021–five days after the January 6th assault on the Capitol. Like many Americans, I had watched in disbelief as what was previously unthinkable happened.
I wasn’t surprised. I believed that the potential for violence existed; however, I had no idea that it would involve an assault on the Capitol itself.
As I reread this post, one sentence stood out: I don’t believe Mr. Trump is finished, nor are the extremists who follow him.
When I wrote the post, I meant that I feared more violence was coming before Joe Biden’s inauguration. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. However, as I survey the political landscape, I must once more say: I don’t believe Mr. Trump is finished, nor are the extremists who follow him.
When I saw the headline on my computer’s monitor, “Protestors trying to breach the Capitol,” I was concerned.
“Surely, they’ll never get in,” I thought.
Soon, like many other Americans, I watched in disbelief as a mob of so-called “patriots” ransacked the Capitol. My disbelief quickly shifted to anger as I watched these people trash the seat of our democracy.
In the five days since, I have felt much like I did after 9/11.
Numb. Disbelieving. Angry. Numb.
You see, all the feelings I’ve described above don’t come from shock because something unexpected happened.
Prior to the election, I told people privately that if Donald Trump lost, the six weeks between the election and Joe Biden’s inauguration would be a very dangerous time. I also said that days between January 6th and the 20th could very well be the most dangerous in American history.
A few weeks ago, when I saw that the president had called for a rally on January 6th to coincide with the counting of the electoral votes, my reaction was, “Nothing good can come from that.”
Did I expect a storming of the Capitol and a literal attempt to stop the count?
I did see, however, great potential for rioting and mob violence. The president knows how to whip up a crowd.
Now, almost a week later, I am deeply concerned about the potential for more—and worse—violence.
Over the last several days I’ve been monitoring Twitter closely, particularly taking note of cross-posts from Parler.
I don’t think this is over yet.
I’m noticing talk about a Million Militia March planned for this coming Saturday in Washington D.C. There is also talk about trouble on Inauguration Day.
I hope it’s just chatter, but I’m fearful that it’s not.
Just remember one thing: Donald Trump is the catalyst here, not a so-called stolen election. [See notes below for a year-long timeline of the events leading up to Jan. 6].
In the wake of the presidential election, I heard repeatedly that the president had the right to pursue every legal recourse in his dispute of the election results.
Although I believed he lost legitimately and fairly, I agreed.
But when every single one of those cases failed, it was incumbent upon Donald Trump to accept the results and move on with a peaceful transition of power. Then he and his fellow Republicans could begin making plans for the 2022 mid-term elections. With a 50-50 tie in the Senate and a slim Democrat majority in the House, in two years the Republicans likely could have turned things around.
That’s how our system works. Or at least that’s how it used to work.
But whether by design or simply because he is psychologically incapable of admitting he lost, Donald Trump decided on a decidedly unAmerican option. He chose to rile up his supporters with a series of ever-bolder lies, culminating in the indisputable lie that Mike Pence could reject the certified results of the electoral college.
And then having invited his followers to Washington on January 6th, Mr. Trump gave a one-hour-and-thirteen-minute speech that was nothing less than an incitement to riot. No, he didn’t tell his followers to go trash the Capitol, but he might as well have. [See notes below for a transcript].
Did he anticipate the level of violence that followed? Maybe. Maybe not. But a person in his position and with his power should have. Great power carries with it great responsibility. Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48 NIV).
Even if he didn’t anticipate the chaos that followed his speech, he delayed in telling his followers to stand down, and later only gave a half-hearted speech telling them to go home and that he loved them. A leader with character would have been horrified at what was happening and would have immediately used any means within his power to stop it.
Hours later, when he finally disavowed the events at the Capitol, it was by means of a scripted speech and hollow words. That is evidenced by the fact that soon after, he was back on Twitter and taking a very different tone, which led Twitter and other social media companies to ban him permanently.
But that’s what concerns me.
I don’t believe Mr. Trump is finished, nor are the extremists who follow him.
I’m not speaking of Trump voters here. Most of them would never sanction what happened at the Capitol.
But on January 6th, a mixed multitude assembled. Among them were right-wing extremists who are every bit as bad, if not worse, than the left-wing activists most of my evangelical friends fear. They conducted a coordinated attack and came prepared for far more than peaceful protest.
They are planning more action for January 17th at least. I would not be surprised if there are plans for Mr. Biden’s inauguration, too.
No one will be happier than I to be proven wrong.
Transcript of Donald Trump’s January 6th speech:
Incitement Timeline: Year of Trump’s Actions Leading to the Attack on the Capitol