Ethan Williams

On January 6, 2021, I witnessed the most unpatriotic event that has ever occurred in my lifetime. A mob of extremists rioted through the Washington D.C. Capitol, an act that has not happened since 1814. As the seditionists descended on the halls of the capital chanting about “taking back their country” and not letting “the politicians steal the election,” the United States Senate and House of Representatives were voting on the certification of the election. This was not only an attack on a single institution of democracy, but an attack on democracy as a whole.

       Over the past five years, I have seen many unpatriotic acts. I have seen citizens photograph themselves with a decapitated, prosthetic head of the president. I have seen people question the birth certificate of the president while he occupied the Oval Office. I have heard citizens refer to each other as “deplorable” and “too sensitive, snowflakes.” All those don’t attempt to match the atrocity that occurred at the Capitol. 

  A critical factor that led to the vandalization of our nation’s capitol was the misinformation and lies spread by social media. The rioters were influenced by false claims of election fraud, claims that have been investigated and disputed by government officals as baseless. This is why the rioters had no cause to rampage through the capitol. Once inside, the mob entered the offices of Congress including the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and ravaged her office. The mob also entered the Senate and House chambers where they belittled the sacred place where our freedoms are represented and debated. Those who entered the chambers unelected made a mockery of the constitution they said they were protecting. They disrupted the process that has occurred since 1887. Out of privilege and self-interest, they decided what was right for the country, not the 159 million people who voted on November 3rd, 2020. 

On that day, our freedom was more vulnerable than I had ever seen. That day will go down as one of the darkest in modern American history, where a self-proclaimed group of “patriots”, tried to overthrow and stop democracy. They failed. The true patriots that day were the members of congress, because they remained in session and finished their constitutional obligation to certify our election.  

 Congressman and civil rights champion John Lewis said it perfectly, “In my life, I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence, is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn”. It is up to us to call out bigotry and condemn all violence. We must respect peaceful protests but never mistake  the word protest with the word riot. Let’s take that day as an example of what we are not so we can become a truly unified United States of America.