January 6, 2021, for me, is now one of those where were you and what were you doing when it was happening events.
As an online-based professor, I was working at home as usual. I had the TV on, muted, in my home office as I sometimes do (it makes me feel less isolated). I was probably watching MSNBC or CNN and I ended up seeing the entire Capitol riot live.
I also was exchanging email messages almost in real-time with a former colleague and good friend. The guy was buried in his campus office getting ready for another in-person pandemic semester. He initially refused to believe my description of what I was watching, and I kept writing back “Get to a TV or find an Internet news feed.”
Like 9/11, it was that unbelievable. And like 9/11, I had the television on, mostly with sound (I still had to get my work done) and knowing I was seeing something as unprecedented as it was horrible.
If American democracy dies, that will be the day we all learned it had a terminal disease. A group of deluded zealots whipped up by a political adventurer and hustler tried through force to derail the results of a fair election and block the peaceful transfer of power.
Ultimately, they failed–this time. But the patient is still gravely ill and their survival is still uncertain. And if we survive will be incumbent on whether all those persons responsible for the Capitol riot are held accountable
That is where we stand at the moment. I now know something of how people in the North must have felt during the Civil War, wondering if the Union would yet endure. Hopefully, this nation doesn’t experience another civil war. But at the very least we have been for some time (since the 1990s at least) engaged in a cold war with each other, that flashes hot from time to time. And we wonder uneasily (to put it mildly) where history is taking us.