Chronology Samjhiye: Capitol Riots as the Democratic Attack on Democracy

Understanding and questioning the Capitol Riots has become intriguing for Indians. But given our democratic history, methods of dissent and improper administrative responses, are we actually in a position to question, while the matters in our own land remain unsettled? 

An angry and violent mob, took upon itself in the USA to bring their supremacist leader back in power by attacking the Capitol Hill building, while the Congress was in the process of validating Joe Biden’s Presidential win. This came as quite a shock for everyone around the globe, as the country which claims to be the oldest and “arguably” the most mature democracy, faced what many people termed as a ‘coup’ or ‘insurrection’. To think of it, the capitol riots were foreseeable, just as the November elections came to an end, Trump and his aides went on a massive disinformation campaign claiming the voting to be fraudulent and unjust. He even went on to claim that he in fact had won the elections. As Trump began questioning the electoral process, many left his side. 

capitol riots
Source: Andrew Harnik

Tom Bossert, the president’s former homeland security adviser, called out his former boss. “This is beyond wrong and illegal,” he said on Twitter. “It’s un-American. President undermined American democracy baselessly for months. As a result, he’s culpable for this siege and an utter disgrace.”

While for most of us, the shock wasn’t because of what had happened, it was more regarding where it had happened. Because this is not the first time we have seen an angry and unruly mob attack a public institution. In fact, we have witnessed adversities more serious than what we witnessed on the 6th of January. But, for the country which propagated the benefits of Democracy across the globe, this was set to come as a shock. 

source: Capture

What struck me the most was the realization of how the authorities tackled the situations differently than the BLM (Black Lives Matter) protests. I am not the one to blame the police, but when we draw lines it’s only evident that the police (who are still controlled by President Trump) didn’t make the required efforts to pacify the crowd. It actually took the authorities four hours to clear the Capitol Hill building. To make matters worse for himself, Trump then went on to post a video, in which he appeared to justify the violent mob’s actions while telling his supporters, 

“It’s time to go home now. I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us, It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. It’s a very tough period of time. There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us. From me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home, we love you, you’re very special. You’ve seen what happens, you’ve seen the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel, but go home and go home in peace.”

The video was removed from Facebook and Twitter almost immediately, and Trump’s account was permanently suspended from Twitter. But, why now? Why not before? When he called the coronavirus the Chinese virus.

trump tweets
Source: The Guardian

If a citizen wants to unconditionally support and justify the Capitol Riots, it is possible to do so using the concept of democracy, freedom of speech and expression, and censorship. One can be unnegotiable while concluding that citizens must be given the power to exert their pressure and exercise their rights while making any political statements. However, the question remains– ‘How far can democratic rights go?’.

In a democracy like India, this would be quite a paradox to think of, considering the past and the present turn of events in our country. The misread concept of democratic freedom is always questioned as the central government cynically emphasizes the need to shut down any such demonstrations with the help of civil forces, thereby making it a riot. This has been the case in our nation ever since. The usual flow of any necessary dialogue between the government and the public has always been scrutinized negatively as, at the end of the day, the demonstrators are pretty much always considered guilty. From 2002 up till 2020, riots have been a relevant form of expression and have become part and parcel of criticism of the authorities. 

The discernable difference between the two democracies lies in the proportion of accountability that is demanded of the leaders. While Trump was hugely opposed and questioned, leading to consequences like suspension of the Twitter account, to a second impeachment, we must rethink the amount of responsibility that is put on our leaders at the center. It is definitely in comparable situations, but provocative speeches, actions, and lack of regret or inability to apologize to the public is an agreeable common ground that leads to a set of questions. When Umair Khalid, accused of ‘conspiring’ the Delhi Riots, questioned, “Chronology of Anti-CAA movements is mentioned as the one responsible for riots. There were two attacks on Anti-CAA protesters after Union Minister gave provocative speeches. Why Delhi Police don’t mention this in its chronology?”, we are left with no answers. 

On second thought, political polarization has not been new for India either. Series of questionings, debates, controversial speeches, ardent support to followers, and expression of grief post violence with no intention of an apology have all been only duplicated versions of politics from history. 

Watch: The Capitol Riots: An Hour-by-Hour Timeline

Also Read: DU Beat’s articles on Donald Trump

Feature Image Credits: News and Advance

Harsh Paliwal


Vaishnavi Varier



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