Bertha Cooper

Think About It: Les Misérables?

People swarmed the roads and grass to the Capitol Building in DC, filled the balconies and stormed the entries guarded but not secured by Capitol Police. We saw it all. It was amazingly colorful with American, red and white flags doting what seemed like orchestrated movements of masses of people. I expected at any moment to hear them burst into song.

“Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the song of angry men?

It is the music of the people

Who will not be slaves again!”

If only. If only it was a staged production and we were watching it on a stage instead of cable news. Most of us could not turn our eyes away from the scene. I don’t know how long it took me to realize the Capitol was really being breached, a new word added to my vocabulary. My protective mind tried to persuade me it wasn’t much of a problem and the police would come.

The police didn’t come for the longest time and the invaders roamed the halls and offices, broke windows, overturned furniture and strew papers everywhere. One man occupied the House Speaker’s office chair and left her a note, something telling her they were not done.

A closer look at the colors reveal a liberal use of red, white and blue with stars and stripes on flags, hats and clothing. A number wore the red MAGA hat, symbolic of Donald Trump’s campaign. Many carried red “Trump” flags. One man tried to replace a stationary American flag with a Trump flag. Another man was seen carrying a confederate flag.

Most invaders were white men and women who I would estimate were between the ages of 20 and 75, although my guess is the core was mostly white men between 30 and 60. They arrived earlier in the day to hear the President of the United States exhort them to go in mass to the Capitol in which the House and Senate were counting the electoral votes. He wanted justice over what he called a “landslide election stolen from him.”

They believed and so they went to fight for a felonious cause propelled with nothing less than the approval and prodding of the president. They weren’t poor, they didn’t suffer discrimination, they weren’t abused and they weren’t oppressed. They were nothing like the “slaves” in Les Misérables. Yet, they were slaves to their “leader,” one for whom they felt great kinship.

Insurrection, sedition, attempted coup?

Sedition and insurrection are the words being used to describe the breach and destruction because its apparent target was to disrupt the counting of electoral votes and the final declaration of Joe Biden as our next president. It’s no secret the president wanted the counting stopped; he told us and the morning crowd he did.

Both sedition and insurrection are serious charges. Sedition is incitement to rebellion and, if serious enough, treason. Insurrection is rebellion and, if serious enough, revolution. Did we see enough, do we know enough to name the actions of the president and the invaders? Was it a badly executed coup attempt? Coup is another word for the overthrow of a government. If not these acts, then what is it? Bad boys?

I don’t know what will have transpired by the time this column is published, but I would expect that a great deal of investigation and some analysis of the event will have occurred. I have no predictions of holding someone accountable be it the president or the security forces seemingly caught unaware that a riot was about to ensue.

Calls are being made for the president’s removal from power. He mobilized thousands of people to storm the Capitol and threaten the lives of people in Congress; then told the invaders he loved them. What else could and would he do with his presidential power in his remaining days? What will he call for on inauguration day? I’m afraid for our country.

Questions about the ease at which the Capitol was breached began almost immediately and have become more pointed. At end of a day of destruction, a relative handful of the invaders were arrested, about 40 among a reported 10,000, the majority of which were charge for curfew violation. Far smaller demonstrations by BLM have resulted in far more arrests among who were thugs arrested for breaking windows and looting. Note people who walked out of the Capitol with artifacts and impunity from the building. We all see and feel the inequal weight of inequal justice.

I worry that no one will be held accountable and we will destine our country to more of the same. Our representative government will have failed to that end if yet one more time we fall back on “it’s only 13 more days” just like was said in impeachment,” let it go, the voters will decide.” At this moment Republicans are mulling not holding the president accountable because it might cause more violent confrontations. I thought we didn’t negotiate with terrorists.

What would those Republicans have said or given up if confronted or, a better question, if Nancy Pelosi was captured?

Victor Hugo wrote toward the end of Les Misérables:

“The book which the reader has before him at this moment is, from one end to the other, in its entirety and details … a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God.” (Wikipedia reference)

Hugo wrote of a people struggling for liberty, equality and community. Is there any part of his description of the purpose of a revolution that applies to the events of Jan. 6, 2021? None, none at all.

Bertha Cooper, featured columnist in the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation. Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 20 years. Reach her at columnists@sequimgazette.com.

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