The Unbearable Whiteness of Seeing

It has been roughly 24 hours since we witnessed an assault on the highest halls of our democracy. 24 hours to process what happened. 24 hours to read eyewitness media accounts. 24 hours to see fully via video and photos what happened inside the Capitol. 24 hours to digest the sedition, the insurrection, the sordid lust for power displayed by those who had only hours earlier been cowering under desks.

24 hours to think about the worst of what we all saw take place. 24 hours of undeniable racial inequality — 24 hours of the unbearable whiteness of seeing.

The terrorists that swarmed our nation’s Capitol building were, as is the norm in MAGAritaville, overwhelmingly white. Yes, there are brown and Black outliers filled with self loathing that love the attention they receive at the rallies and in the ranks. Stupid as they are, they still have no idea that they are in fact the tokens used to justify the bigotry, hate, and racism of the mass. See! We have a Black person here! They are the epitome of the “I have a Black friend” shield used by all racists.

Watching the Capitol police not only move the barricades, but practically usher these insurrectionists in was galling. Then as photos emerged of police inside actually posing for selfies with them? Guiding them along like docents? Then finally bidding them adieu, holding the doors open for them? Jesus, they did everything but give them a complimentary bag of swag and thank them for their visit.

So first the cops let them in, and then, at the end, they just got to leave.

— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) January 6, 2021

As of this morning, four people are dead as a result of this attack. One shot in the neck, three others who had medical “emergencies” (read: heart attacks, etc). Four people who were incomplete control of their actions, willingly assaulted the Capitol, chose their fates. I have no pity for them. None. And do not try to defend the dead woman based on her military service. Being a vet and being a terrorist asshole are NOT mutually exclusive. And being a vet is not some magical acquittal of their criminal behavior.

And not for nothing, but four people — there’s some bloodstained irony there. When four people died in the attack in Benghazi, GOPers held hearing after hearing, they still scream this word over and over. Hillary sat for questioning for eleven hours. Trey Gowdy was apoplectic. Four people died yesterday in Trumpghazi. Will we see the same righteous indignation, fervor, and demand for transparency? Don’t hold your breath.

I have combed through the hundreds of pictures and the violation is breathtaking. The destruction of property, the trespass into offices, the broken windows and doors, files scattered everywhere. And in these pictures, proud, ignorant, privileged WHITE PEOPLE, secure in the knowledge that their Caucasian cloaking device will keep them from all harm, from any serious repercussions. White privilege on full, disgusting, obvious display.

The ransacked office of the Senate Parliamentarian:

— Ali Zaslav (@alizaslav) January 7, 2021

After a summer of largely peaceful protests across this country, and in the nation’s capital; a summer that saw protesters gassed, shot at, tased, maimed, arrested en masse, swept up and away in unmarked vehicles by unidentified stormtroopers; a summer in which my own child learned the sting of tear gas, the pain of rubber bullets; a summer in which Black people were again demonized, castigated, violated, murdered by law enforcement; a summer in which the National Guard filled the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, protesters were tear gassed so the Fat Fuhrer could hold a bible upside down in front of a church — after a summer full of seeing what the police and military response can be, we watched yesterday as they were completely complicit in the assault and destruction that took place.

The Capitol police number 2,300. With an annual budget of $460,000,000, they are the most well funded police department in the country. And this assault was not a secret. It had been openly planned via Facebook groups, Parler, all manner of Chan for the past two months. They had apparel printed up with the date for Christ’s sake. The orange stain encouraged them all to come to DC, tweeting on December 20th, “Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

He was mighty white about that — it was wild. It was also lawless, terroristic, the stuff of banana republics, and a glaring indictment of the white nationalism that oozes from his supporters.

Again, watching them crawl like roaches up the walls, scatter inside and violate the most sacred of spaces in our legislature, I am not alone in sitting on my couch and repeatedly saying out loud that if they were black, brown, or wearing any sort of headpiece they would have never made it up the stairs. No Black man would have made it into Pelosi’s office to kick his filthy feet up on her assistant’s desk, steal her mail, leave a quarter, and then make it back outside — completely untouched — to brag openly to the media.

Whiteness did that. Both in the MAGA sweatshirts and caps and in the police force inside the walls. We have known for a very long time that our police departments across the country have been infiltrated by white supremacists — report after report has both warned and verified this — but seeing it play out on such a grand scale? I wanted to throw up.

Then watching white lawmakers, who had just come out of hiding in safe spaces all day, take to the floor of the House and the Senate to continue their bloviating, bullshitting, and flat out lying — warming to their theme that what took place was not at the hands of Trump loyalists, but that the mythical, magical, all powerful antifa had planned, infiltrated, and been responsible for what took place? Sorry, Gaetz, Hawley, Johnson, Cruz, et al — these terrorists belong to you. You built it, you own it. The destruction, the violation, the blood, the deaths — all of it. You will never be President. Get that through your self serving, self interested heads. Your whiteness will not protect you from being forever stained by what you fomented, what you cheered, what you proudly did. (And all of the cabinet members and people who worked in the White House in various positions who are jumping off the Trumptanic and resigning — Mulvaney, Chao, Pottinger, Grisham, Matthews? Too little, too late, cowards. Profiles in chickenshit, not courage.)

Just as Donald J. Trump’s whiteness will not protect him from the consequences he has eluded his entire, worthless life. Articles of Impeachment have been drawn up again and are circling Congress as of this morning. They should quickly be followed by the 25th amendment being invoked to remove him immediately — Senator Schumer has called for this. What he fomented, encouraged, and loved while it was happening — “We love you. You’re special people.” — cannot be allowed to drift into the ether like every other transgression, crime, trespass, and violation he has committed.

Just as every terrorist that can be identified must be held accountable for their part in yesterday’s attack. Their whiteness cannot be a “Get Out Of Responsibility Free” card. It can no longer buy a free pass for aggression, violence, destruction, hell, for speeding.

White supremacy is what we saw writ large yesterday. It stormed the Capitol, it held open the doors, it coddled the participants, it stood for selfies, and it politely ushered them out, even helping them down the stairs. Black people would have been opened up in a hail of continued gunfire. Their blood would have cascaded down those steps. They would not have made it in to put MAGA hats on statues, to grandstand in the well of the Senate, to hang from the gallery, to terrorize the legislators gathered to do their Constitutionally mandated job.

There must be accountability for every single person who contributed to this desecration, this attack. No hiding. Not behind titles, fame, money, power, OR skin color.

In two weeks a new day will dawn. We will have reason, sanity, experience, probity, and decency in control of the Senate, the House, and in the Oval. But we will still have COVID (370,151 dead as of this morning — set a new record for deaths yesterday: 3,963), we will still have 74 million citizens completely untethered from reality and happily, violently so, and we will still have unprecedented injustice, inequality, and rampant white supremacy oozing throughout this country, our legislators, our military, and our police forces.

It can no longer be ignored or poo poo’d away. Yesterday stripped off the last vestiges of denial. It was captured for history in photo, video, word, and deed. And we all saw it.

We all must come to terms with the unbearable whiteness of seeing the truth. Only then can we hope to fully attack and dismantle it, and root it out of the people charged with our protection and justice.



Author, columnist, blogger. Don’t Get Me Started and Transparent Trans Parent blogs

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Linda Sharp

Author, columnist, blogger. Don’t Get Me Started and Transparent Trans Parent blogs