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.
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.