Opinion / Reform

Statement from the Editors on the Attack on the Capitol of January 6, 2021

Represent Series

Like other Americans, we were appalled by the seditious attack on the Capitol last Wednesday. We watched as the mob’s disregard for the Constitution and democracy threatened the safety of elected government servants, congressional staff, and law enforcement officers. At least five people have died as a consequence of these actions.

But the sickening element of the attack that we at Represent want to focus on was the display of white supremacy. The insurrectionists waved Confederate battle flags, wore clothing celebrating the Holocaust, bared white nationalist tattoos, and hung up a noose on the National Mall. Many of those who overran the Capitol were motivated by hatred and prejudice, and the misguided belief that America belongs only to Americans of Caucasian descent.

American national security is fundamentally about protecting our way of life. That way of life is a vibrant, pluralistic democracy, characterized by free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power. By design, power over our government is not based on a prejudiced social hierarchy, but of equality before the law and equality of the vote.

America is a big country with room for many ideas and even controversial debate. But there should not be room for white supremacy.

In the days since the attack, national security experts have debated whether the event was a coup, an insurrection, terrorism, or part of an insurgency. Many have expressed concern about the feeble preparations for the assault and the degree to which some law enforcement and military officials share views with—and even participated in—the events at the Capitol. Still others have discussed what elected representatives can and should do to distance themselves from these egregious and unlawful acts.

We started Represent to surface such issues, not bury them in denial or wishful thinking. Going forward, we welcome contributions that examine the racist, antisemitic, and other motivations behind the riot. In the weeks to come, we plan to highlight recent work by ISP scholars that can also help our readers think through the national security implications of what happened on January 6th. In all that we do, we encourage the national security community to continue building on the American promise of equal protection and equal opportunity for all.


The Editorial Board of Represent

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