This is not who we are

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Like the vast majority of Americans, I was horrified and disheartened by the unprecedented scenes of mayhem and violence that occurred in our nation’s capital on Jan. 6. This is not who we are as a nation, and we must not let ourselves or others believe otherwise.

We need the swift arrest and prosecution of those that breached the U.S. Capitol but also additional actions that will serve to highlight—both to other nations and as a future precedent— that fomenting or participating in politically-motivated violence must never be tolerated. If there were more time left in Donald Trump’s term as president, impeachment would be a compelling option. Perhaps it is still the right one.  

Alex Zapesochny

More importantly, we should implore our political leaders to find unity and to act with collective clarity in the coming days. Such actions could include a vote to impeach the president, the mass resignations of Trump’s key officials, or a bipartisan vote to sanction the president. The one thing we must not do is just move on and chalk up the events of Jan. 6 to yet another extreme event in a long series of extreme events.  

We must also act to make sure that this horrific episode sparks something broader than momentary condemnation. There can often seem to be a fine line between legitimate activism and hate-fueled extremism, but we must learn to identify and decry when that line is crossed, no matter whether we might agree with some underlying aims of the extremists.  

No nation has thrived for long when it has been consumed or animated by hate and distrust. We will not be an exception. Yesterday should be a reminder that hate begets more hate, and things only spiral out of control from there.

I want to thank the dedicated law enforcement members who protected our nation’s capital from further tragedy. I also thank Vice President Mike Pence and the many politicians and other leaders for doing and saying the right things under difficult circumstances. Most importantly, I hope our nation comes together to heal and grow from these events so that they are never seen again.

Alex Zapesochny is Rochester Beacon publisher.

6 thoughts on “This is not who we are

  1. Dear Mr. Zapesochny,

    What happened yesterday is an illustration that this is exactly who we are as a nation. It is way past time to acknowledge that and work to change that narrative. Pretending that somehow this cropped up recently and that it hasn’t been simmering in the background for decades – if not longer – enables us all to move on way too quickly instead of doing the work that is required to eradicate systemic racism in this country.

    Saying “this is not who we are” is, in fact, momentary condemnation. In addition, the tragedy happened because the law enforcement – for whatever reason – dropped the ball on this. That they allowed these terrorists to enter the building, putting everyone in jeopardy, before they took action will need to be investigated.

    With that said – I do agree with you regarding the immediate removal of the president. There are plenty of days for him to create more chaos before he leaves office.

    All the best.

  2. I disagree:

    This is exactly who we are. We’re a nation founded in white supremacy that maintains white supremacy to this day. And for at least the last five years, we’re a nation that can’t even be bothered to avoid saying the quiet part out loud. These folks took action, but there are plenty of people who sympathize with them in more subtle ways.

    There’s a lot of unexamined white privilege behind anyone who’s asserting that “this isn’t us, we’re better than this, look at the bright side, welcome healthy debate, etc.” When every Black person looking at that coverage yesterday says the same thing, it’s about time the rest of us listened to what they’re saying, and acted to remedy the situation as it exists. We’ve all seen the pictures of the Capitol during the recent BLM demonstrations, vs. what we saw yesterday. Until we fix the white supremacy “this isn’t us” is a dangerous fantasy. This is exactly “us” shameful as that is. And just changing leaders or making pretty speeches won’t fix that fundamental problem.

    And yes – the police were complicit here. Their response to BLM protestors was stingballs, teargas, pepper spray, LRADs and armed vehicles. The White Supremacy Confederate Crowd was allowed easy access, friendly banter, selfies and were told to “stand down” rather than actually protect the capital buildings. There is a huge difference in the response to these two types of protests – one mostly non-violent and peaceful and the other featuring armed protestors with metal bars and guns. We need to examine exactly why that response differed and change the way we police. We’re not asking for more violence here, we’re asking that police assess a protest and act accordingly – meeting force with force if absolutely necessary, but yielding to peaceful protest when not.

  3. While it was a sad day in this country, it is sadder still to see the political posturing of the Republican leaders in the Senate floor last night. Speech after speech saying that “this is not who we are” when indeed it is EXACTLY who we are. And they absolutely allowed it to be who we are by recklessly nodding their heads in assent at every delusional antic of the toddler in the White House. This will go unpunished just as the other crimes against the American people in the past four years. We are a disgrace.

  4. Mr. Zapesochny,
    Unfortunately, I have become very cynical and agree with the previous commenter that ‘it is exactly who we are.’ The first time Trump ran for the presidency, he received 70 million votes. After 4 yrs. of his lies and manipulation, he received 74 million votes. His followers are so unreasonable that three quarters of them still believe he won this election with all the evidence that says otherwise. I say that is a cult. As far as VP Pence goes, he is no hero after supporting Trump for 4 yrs. In fact, all he did yesterday was his constitutional job. But I admire your optimism and constructive analysis of what happened yesterday.

  5. Dear Mr. Zapesochny,
    I happen to largely agree with Ms. Tretter. Much of this extremism has been fomenting for decades as was pointed out in Jimmy Carter’s 2005 book, Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis. And, the fact that over 70 million Americans demonstrated support for a clearly unfit person to serve another term as President says a great deal about who we are as a nation. My hope & prayer is that not only will action be taken to remove this sitting President as soon as possible, but also to call out and mete out appropriate censure to those who have served to enable him for the past 4 years.
    I continue to find the Rochester Beacon a wonderful source of news and opinion and will continue to support it financially going forward.

  6. I wonder if the author of the article and some of the responses actually heard Trump’s speech before the riot at the Capitol building? I did. Trump was entertaining and at times light hearted in his comments. He stressed peaceful discussion and protest. 92% of media coverage of Trump has been negative during his presidency. That’s 100% more negative than what Obama endured. Where was the outrage when BLM and Antifa sympathizers last summer penetrated the grounds of the White House. Trump had to be evacuated. Where was the outrage when Senator Schumer stood in front of the Supreme Court building last summer before a large crowd of pro abortionists? During that speech Schumer threatened Judge Kavanaugh with incendiary words which could have incited violence. Did anyone listen to the many hearings in the battle ground state legislatures regarding voluminous evidence of election irregularities and fraud. There was at least one thousand affidavits attesting to fraud which was a small part of the evidence? I watched many of these hearings. Furthermore, where was the media during the violence all summer night after night through out the country by BLM and Antifa against police, government buildings, private property, citizens including numerous Republicans, etc. Kamala Harris promoted this type of violence in August when she appeared on Stephen Colbert’s show. Nancy Pelosi minimized the violence by the Left. Much of the media has become a propaganda mouthpiece for the left. What’s even more frightening is what the media chooses not to report on. That’s censorship. I hope the author and others educate themselves because much of the media cannot be trusted as journalists.

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