With all the focus on the white violence at the US Capitol on January 6, let’s also recognize and rebuke the white violence that comes from the US Capitol regularly.
The US Capitol has always been a site of white violence. The physical structure of the US Capitol, and much of the work that goes on there, is not worth anyone’s tears. The white terrorist attack on January 6 brought together different sides of white violence in the same space.
The US Capitol began as a site of white violence with its construction. In the Capitol’s history, its construction was under Jefferson Davis, the Secretary of White Violence, known at the time as the Secretary of War.
In 2012, Guy Gugliotta wrote these words about the US Capitol and Jefferson Davis on a US government website:
“The U.S. Capitol as we know it today would never have existed without Jefferson Davis. In many ways, it is his building.”
Does that history count? Does that history influence what we see today?
After pictures of the white terrorist attack at the Capitol came out, I listened to a white reporter express shock that a white man brandished a Confederate flag inside the US Capitol. The white reporter didn’t acknowledge that Confederate sentiments are on the building and have never left the building.
As a building under Jefferson Davis’s command, what pundits and politicians call “The Temple of Democracy” is another Confederate monument. The US Capitol is yet another white building in my native Washington, DC, built by enslaved Black people for the oppressive exercise of white democracy. So, the white violence of the US Capitol was there from its early days.
White violence from the US Capitol has always been inside rhetoric and policies. And although the white violence coming from the US Capitol is normally a bloodless production — because the regular order of white violence sanctioned in the US Capitol sanitizes itself — it’s still lethal and far-reaching.
I compare that type of white violence to what Carol Anderson describes in her book “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide.” I’d also compare the white violence coming out of the US Capitol to remote work. It is the white violence that comes by yeas, nays, and the animus of unanimous consent.
Then, there’s another side of white violence, the “trial by combat” white violence that Rudy Giuliani incites. Essential white violence workers perform that direct assault. Those essential white violence workers are the white mobs, white male shooters, white hate groups, white militias, the military, and law enforcement.
Dylann Roof, The Proud Boys, Mitch McConnell, and Nancy Pelosi are all sides of white violence. On January 6, different sides of white violence came together again in the Capitol. And all forms of white violence deserve condemnation.
Now several Democratic lawmakers feel unsafe around some GOP lawmakers. But the US Capitol has never been a safe place for all. Even so, Democrats mourn.
I don’t understand the mourning for the halls of white violence. The aftermath of January 6 nearly put Nancy Pelosi in a puddle of tears. Pelosi sees the Capitol as a sacred place, violated on January 6, rather than the scary roost of white violence that it is.
The US Capitol has never been a beacon of democracy. The entire history of whites on these lands is a spitting shame. The US Capitol itself isn’t worth anyone’s tears. There were reasons to cry about what happened inside the US Capitol before January 6.
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