The Day America Lost Its Soul

Congress could have—and should have—used this moment as an opportunity to redeem America from its past sins

Protesters holding a banner reading TRUMP IS GUILTY. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Senate vote

On February 13, the U.S. Senate voted 57–43 to acquit former President Donald Trump of inciting the terrifying and violent attack on the Capitol that occurred on January 6. Although 57 votes were “guilty,” and 43 votes were “not guilty,” a total of 67 votes, or a two-thirds majority, was required to convict. This means that 10 additional GOP senators would have had to cross party lines and vote “guilty.” This, we know, was not going to happen.

This could have been the first step toward healing the racial divide that exists within this country.

According to MSN, President Joe Biden made the following comment about the first-ever second impeachment trial of a former U.S. president: “Even those opposed to the conviction, like Senate Minority Leader [Mitch] McConnell, believe Donald Trump was guilty of a ‘disgraceful dereliction of duty’ and ‘practically and morally responsible for provoking’ the violence unleashed on the Capitol.” MSN goes on to explain how “the president ended his statement by drawing on his previous calls for unity to heal ‘the soul of the nation.’”

Why did McConnell refuse to vote against Trump?

McConnell may believe that Trump was guilty, but he still voted in opposition to his conviction. Why? This was our national leaders’ chance to prove that they will no longer be complicit and complacent with White supremacist terrorism. This could have been the first step toward healing the racial divide that exists within this country. The leaders of America could have shown the world that they will not allow a corrupt, narcissistic president to threaten the safety of its people, the safety of its leaders, and the safety of our national security system. Congress could have—and should have—used this moment as an opportunity to redeem America from its past sins.

But instead, February 13, 2021 is the day America lost its soul, if it ever had one to begin with.

The votes of McConnell and the other 42 senators were votes to maintain the status quo. They were votes to maintain White supremacy, White male patriarchy, and White male wealth — everything that Trump represents for them and for everyone like them.

Holding Trump accountable for his inflammatory language and vicious actions was not a violation of his rights

Since when is inciting violence a right protected by the First Amendment? If Trump is not responsible for inflaming the hatred of his supporters, leading to the murderous mayhem on the Capitol, who is? Does this mean anyone is allowed to provoke others to go out and murder people because our freedom of speech supposedly protects our right to do so?

How is Trump above being held accountable for the same actions when the attack on the Capitol resulted in five deaths?

How are Trump’s actions any different from Charles Manson’s actions? He was imprisoned for life because he did not have the right to incite the violence that led his cult followers to kill several people. How is Trump above being held accountable for the same actions when the attack on the Capitol resulted in five deaths and would have resulted in more if the rioters had gained access to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former Vice President Mike Pence, and others? The answer is he is not. If impeachment was not the correct process for this country to implement to hold him accountable, then we need to determine the correct way forward to ensure that justice is served.

Why is domestic terrorism at the Capitol acceptable, but Black Lives Matter protests unacceptable?

This country consistently calls Black Lives Matter (BLM) a Marxist terrorist organization because they have stood against the brutality of Black men, women, and children committed by the police and against racial terrorism committed by people like Dylann Roof, and Travis and Gregory McMichael. They have stood up for people’s human and constitutional rights and have not backed down when this country has done everything in its power to discredit them.

BLM has never uttered words that have incited violence against anyone. Not only that, but Black Lives Matter has recently been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Does this sound like the makings of a Marxist terrorist organization?

This country needs to finally lay to rest all the hatred against an organization that is dedicated to fighting against violence and hatred. There would be no need for BLM to exist if this country has ever once acted on its promise that we all have the unalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These White supremacist hate groups that attacked the Capitol are not only a threat to our democratic process, but a threat to Black bodies as well.

Isn’t America better than this?

People keep making the claim that America is better than this. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: No, America is not. America is what America has always been. The problem is that this country has always been afraid of what true racial equality and economic equity will mean for White people, as if it is a zero-sum game.

According to the U.S. Census, White people make up 60% of the U.S. population, with the other 40% made up of Blacks, Hispanics, American Indian, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and people of mixed-race heritage. Yet White people are threatened by thoughts of equality and equity? In what way does this even make sense when it is people of color, especially Black people, who are constantly threatened by the physical violence of Whites because of their false notions of White superiority and economic entitlement? They are threatened by a concept. We are threatened by them.

America may have lost its soul that day, but the Biden administration and the people of this country must do everything within our power to gain it back.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have a long road ahead of them in order to reverse some of the damage done by the Trump administration. As I explained in a previous article titled “Why Black Americans Must Keep the Pressure on the Biden Administration,” if we want to save the soul of America, it is going to require racial equity. This is going to be extremely challenging for the Biden administration, with so many of Trump’s loyal supporters still in Congress, but it is a challenge they must stand up to. America may have lost its soul that day, but the Biden administration and the people of this country must do everything within our power to gain it back.

Written by L.A. Justice. Copyright 2021. All rights reserved.

To read more from L.A. Justice, visit her Medium page.

Theologian | Author | Activist | Educator | Previously a Biochemist | Member of #WEOC | A Top Writer in Racism and BlackLivesMatter

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