LETTER TO THE EDITOR: American ugliness on display in Capitol riot

To the editor:

I know three qualities about America – “the good,” “the bad,” and “the ugly” – because I’ve lived them all. Since the November 2020 election, I have seen more “bad.” Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, “ugly” showed up as a mob storming the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. 

Was I still in America, where the Constitution is our guiding law? The Constitution, an initially flawed document that regarded Blacks as less than a whole and eliminated the vote for Blacks and women, currently initiates members of Congress, the president, the vice-president, and federal employees into public service. Public servants take an oath to uphold the Constitution “against enemies foreign and domestic.” The Constitution is a document that secures for Americans the right to peacefully express discontent with their government.   

On Jan. 6, I watched in disbelief the actions of gun-toting white people who disregarded the Constitution, people, and property. They were egged on by a losing candidate who took the same oath to uphold the Constitution four years ago. The mob marched to the Capitol to break into the building, to stop the electoral vote count that solidified the victory won at the polls by President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris.   

If this had been Black people doing the same, what would have been the outcome? Memories of past events flashed in my mind. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, police used water hoses and dogs on Black people. During the riots in D.C. after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was murdered, government officials deployed the National Guard post-haste; police arrested people. 

Had Black people dared such unlawfulness, not one Black foot would have walked the Capitol grounds, much less entered its hallowed halls where Congress was in session. The force to prevent would have left many Black people dead in the streets of D.C. My view is extreme, but I recall a Bible photo op where peaceful Black protestors were removed from a park in D.C. by tear gas. This event was not in the 1960s but last year, in 2020. I can’t help but think about all the unarmed Black people murdered by the police in this country with not even a hand slap.   

For years, “bad” and “ugly” hid under rocks waiting for an opportunity such as this to emerge. They waited for a leader who would condone their hate and even encouraged it. The one take-away is that we now clearly know the greatest enemy to and within America, which is hate. Hatred causes people to believe a lie because hate blinds their minds to the truth. Hatred led these people down a path with an outcome that could not be changed. This enemy of hate is not flesh and blood but spiritual. The only weapon against this enemy is the love of God, which is shed abroad in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit.  

Melinda G. Graves

Upper Marlboro, Maryland

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