January 6 Vocabulary Quiz

Which definition best describes what occurred at the US Capitol on January 6:

A. An act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government

B. Needless or willful damage or violence

C. A sudden decisive exercise of force in politics especiallythe violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group

These are three definitions from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary of words that express various forms of unrest.

If you selected ‘B’ you are in agreement with The Boston Globe’s recent headline, which describes the actions of January 6 as ‘mayhem.’ (‘A’ is the definition of insurrection; ‘C’ is a coup.)

True, what happened on January 6 was willful damage and violence. But it was so much more. It was a revolt against civil authority. It was a sudden exercise of force in the service of altering an existing government by a small group. It was beyond mayhem. It was insurrection. It was an attempted coup.

Why would The Boston Globe, not exactly a right-wing rag, headline such a misleading word less than a month after the most serious attack on our Capitol? The answer, I fear, is the same old, same old. Giving a pass to white guys.

When Black or Brown people take to the street, we are accustomed to their ‘demonstrations’ being rebranded as ‘protests,’ even ‘riots.’ We use words that escalate, even criminalize, their action. No one would use the word ‘mayhem’ to describe the 100 nights of protest in Portland, OR after George Floyd was killed.

But when white people storm the Capitol and successfully shut down the national government, the terror/insurrection/sedition they incite is downplayed by the label ‘mayhem.’

Let’s be clear. Mayhem is fun with an edge. Mayhem is WWF. Mayhem is a comic character hawking Allstate Insurance during NFL games. Mayhem is letting “boys be boys,” with a wink and nod and an acknowledgement that their silly antics are ultimately harmless. After all, these boys are our future, and we’re still proud of them.

Justice for the Capitol attack will only come when everyone involved, directly and indirectly, is held to account. Not because of the color of their skin. Because of the gravity of their acts. We the People have to keep the pressure on, because everyone in a position of influence and power, from Congress down to The Boston Globe, will find reason to backpedal the trespasses of these white attackers (who were disproportionately law enforcement officers and veterans as well). They will cast them as benign figures. Let’s be clear and insistent. Let’s call them out for what they are: domestic terrorists. Let’s call then out for what they did: sedition.

About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to January 6 Vocabulary Quiz

  1. Mark Thomsen says:

    Great Article Paul – thanks

Leave a Reply to paulefallon Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s