There is an image from Wednesday’s siege of the Capitol building that is so disturbing to me. It’s not the guy with his feet on Speaker Pelosi’s desk. It’s not the one of the bare chested, face painted “Viking” raging like he’s at a football game, whose team just came from behind to win the game. It’s not even the confederate flag being paraded through the halls of the Capitol, something that has never happened. All of these images are deeply disturbing, but the image I can’t let go of is the one of the guys wearing the T-shirts they had made that have “Civil War January 6, 2021” printed on them.
Someone was willing to put those T-shirts through a printer. The intense looks on the faces of the white men wearing them screams of entitlement. It’s an air of those that have drank so deeply from the cup or superiority that it lives in their DNA. It’s woven into the fabric of their lives. Civil War January 6, 2021.
I’m trying to figure out exactly why this is the picture that gets to me the most. People tend to buy
T-shirts to commemorate joyful excursions. Sometimes they have them made with sayings or images that speak to their heart. It’s a cultural practice that many of us share, so I can relate to it. I don’t relate to brandishing a weapon, or carrying a confederate flag, these are things I would never do. But I do wear commemorative t-shirts.
I have been thinking for quite some time that we are in a civil war. It isn’t obvious everywhere so people don’t want to see it. It doesn’t look like what people associate with war. But doesn’t it really? Doesn’t the irony of the images over the heads of the mob in the rotunda of the Capitol strike a chord?
On one side, I have family members that have no awareness of the continued oppression of black and brown people in this country, and talking heads all over the media claiming “This isn’t who we are” on the other. Are they not seeing what I’m seeing?
In my home town of Minneapolis, we are still recovering from the physical damage done to our city during the George Floyd protests. Proud Boys and the like descended on us, took advantage of the pain of the community. They stirred the pot, discretely broke windows and threw homemade bombs in buildings and watched them burn. They came to town in unmarked cars, moved through the city like shadows, leaving a wake of destruction on Lake Street brings to mind images of war zones in far off lands. But it’s not a far of land, in a jungle somewhere; it’s Lake Street. How did this happen in my city? Because we are in a civil war.
Civilians are dying by the thousands every day because the main tool for our collective safety was weaponized by the rejection of it. The wearing of a mask to prevent the spread of a virus that knows no boundaries became politicized, and now we have people dying in their homes because there are no beds available. Hospitals are doing triage, just as they do in a war zone, saving the ones that can be saved and letting go of the ones too far gone. That’s what happens in war movies, it’s not supposed to happen in downtown Los Angeles.
The price of ammunition for hand guns has tripled over the last couple years because of the demand. Family members have stopped talking because there is no space for listening anymore. Brothers are fighting brothers, not necessarily with guns, but with ideals. Too many Law enforcement officers use their position to control, not protect and serve, and stand aside when it serves them. Those that don’t want to see the truth about where we have landed cry out “This isn’t who we are!” It’s exactly who we are. A divided country, with immovable minds on the perimeter of both sides, with masses standing in the middle, jaws dropped in astonishment of what they are seeing. This is where we have landed. This is who we are. This is a civil war that has no name. Yet.