“We have met the enemy and he is us."
— Pogo, a comic strip character by Walt Kelly
The above quote comes from "Pogo the Possum," popularized by Walt Kelly. It is preliminarily used to alert us to be environmentally vigilant. But its use in this column is a reflection on the insurrection we witnessed last Wednesday at the nation’s Capitol.
Rabid, violent Trump supporters stormed the "People's House," killed police officers and desecrated the center of this democratic experiment. All of it was incited by a mad man in the presidency and his imps. After what we witnessed last week, the quote, more succinctly stated, should read, "We have met the enemy, and they are us."
It is hard for some to think the mob that perpetrated these vile acts at the Capitol are us, but they are. They were Americans.
As a Black man in America, I was horrified but not surprised. Those of you who have taken the time to study indigenous, Latin or African American history know that there has always been a historical propensity for violence in white America. Wednesday was just another example of what white America can and will do. Trump merely fanned the flames for the last four years.
What did we expect a racist to do? Are we genuinely surprised the Proud Boys, Boogie Boys and other white supremacist groups under the Trump spell would act in such a manner?
Will there be more violence in the coming days? Of course, there will be more demonstrations of senseless violence. There is already a warning of possible violence on Jan. 17 and following. I believe Trump supporters who use violence to make their point will not stop. They are irrational and refuse to be moved by truth and moral persuasion. They want their way and are committed to use any means necessary to achieve their goal. They want to “Make America White Again.”
We are hearing calls for unity and healing in the wake of the assault on the Capitol. The words sound good, but that is all they do — sound good.
There can be no unity until injustice is vanquished. Like so many others have said, there must be accountability for what happened at the Capitol and for what happens every day to people of color. We must acknowledge that racism, in its various forms, is the root of the problem. For example, law enforcement was slow to respond primarily because most of the Trump crowd was white. When Black Lives Matter peaceful protests occurred last summer in D.C., law enforcement was quick to dress in tactical gear, use tear gas and rubber bullets against the crowd. Could this be a coincidence? We know better.
The enemy is us. We hate to admit that we are they. The fact is the mob that showed up at the Capitol is the other side of America. The violence was not by the hands of the Russians, Iranians or the North Koreans. It was Americans against America. Listen to what they call themselves: patriots. I call them white supremacist thugs motivated by lies and years of white privilege.
If we are ever going to be a United States of America instead of a "Divided States of America," there must be a serious act of confession of how so many Anglo-Americans have benefitted from and supported white supremacy, sincere acknowledgement that racial and social justice must be a top priority and a willingness to create the common good. If these things do not happen, we will continue to meet the enemy — and it will be us.