A Tale of Two Marches in Washington D.C.
On August 28, 1963, I participated in my first protest march on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. On January 6, 2021, I participated in my last. Over many of the intervening years I watched the United States, as exemplified by the August 1963 march, make great strides in living up to the lofty goals set forth in its Declaration of Independence. However, in recent years I have ruefully observed this nation, as exemplified by the January 6, 2021 march, inexplicably choose to set itself on the same road of inevitable self-destruction that so many failed societies have traveled.
It was an overcast, albeit mild August day by Washington D.C. standards, as I, about to begin my freshman year at Catholic University, joined the thousands walking along Constitution Avenue toward the Lincoln Memorial. While it was a diverse gathering, the most noticeable among us were those that bore the scars of the civil rights battles in the deep South. Regardless of skin color, nationality or faith all were there to exercise their Constitutional right to petition Congress to address institutionalized segregation and racism.
As a recently naturalized citizen, being among so many of my fellow citizens in a righteous cause gave me an overwhelming sense of pride. Thanks to the benevolence of the American people, I was fortunate to live in a country in which its citizens could march and petition the national government without the fear of retribution that had permeated the near-totally destroyed continent I left behind.
While Martin Luther King’s speech was unforgettable and magnificent, it was the speaker before him who was the most meaningful and memorable for me. He was Rabbi Joachim Prinz, President of the American Jewish Congress who fled Nazi Germany in 1937. An excerpt:
When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence. A great people which had created a great civilization had become a nation of silent onlookers.
They remained silent in the face of hate, the face of brutality and in the face of mass murder. America must not remain silent. Not merely black America, but all of America. It must speak up and act…and not for the sake of the Negro, not for the sake of the black community but for the sake of the image, the idea, and the aspiration of America itself. [Emphasis added]
Because Americans refused to stay silent, Congress soon passed Civil Rights legislation outlawing institutionalized segregation and racism.
On January 6, 2021, a massive confluence of the inhabitants of Middle America descended on Washington to exercise their constitutional right to petition Congress. Amid this tidal wave of humanity that had traveled from as far away as California and Alaska were people of all races, creeds, and nationalities.
As I entered the Capitol grounds on January 6th, I was taken aback by the obvious lack of preparation as well as practically non-existent crowd barriers. There was virtually no police presence at the East Front of the Capitol and far too little at the West Front. The overall police presence was woefully inadequate particularly in light of the potential for violence initiated by Antifa in Washington. Less than five months prior to January 6th, Antifa had fomented violence at the Republican Convention in August and a Trump rally in November.
As the few flimsy crowd barriers had easily been breached, a large crowd had gathered near doors at West Front of the Capitol. Many of most vocal appeared to be stereotypical Antifa-looking militants and atypical Trump supporters waving Trump flags and trying to goad others into breeching the locked doors. Sensing a set-up, I admonished those around me to stay 50-75 yards away from the building.
The police soon began indiscriminately using flashbangs and tear gas thereby injuring and inciting heretofore peaceful protestors. These same police soon stepped aside and opened the doors which had been unlocked from the inside, effectively inviting the protestors into the Capitol.
As I watched the culmination of the chaos my thoughts turned to a moment in history wherein a fire at the Reichstag was used as a pretext for the Nazis to blatantly prosecute, imprison their political adversaries and consolidate their power. The consensus of many historians is that the Nazis deliberately set the fire.
It was only a matter of hours before the narrative was broadcast to the nation: the protestors were violent revolutionaries and Donald Trump their execrable leader and instigator of the “insurrection” to overthrow the government. Consequently, the stage was set for an unprecedented level of political prosecution, outrageously draconian jail terms and a consolidation of power. To my horror the United States was mirroring the despotic European nations of the 20th Century.
Over the past four decades, America has been placed on a path of self-destruction by those bent on transforming it into a one-party socialist state with themselves permanently embedded as the ruling elite. An ever-growing number of increasingly self-absorbed citizens, reveling in unprecedented peace and prosperity, chose to remain silent as their nation was being incrementally transformed.
They remained silent as the education establishment was gradually infiltrated by the American proponents of Marxism/socialism ultimately transmuting it into an institution of blatant anti-American indoctrination.
They remained silent as the radical left fanned the dying embers of bigotry into a conflagration of racial animosity and tribalism.
They remained silent as the Judeo-Christian underpinnings of this nation were purposefully eroded by undermining religion and the family in the guise of unfettered sexual freedom.
They remained silent as the nation’s self-aggrandizing ruling class engaged in endless wars, pursued globalism, set the nation on the path to inevitable national bankruptcy, and flung open the borders to massive illegal immigration, thereby eroding the value of American citizenship and the standard of living for working class Americans.
They remained silent as the statists, using the veneer of promoting voting rights, instituted mass mail-in voting, ballot harvesting, near-endless early voting, and unconstitutionally changed state voting laws in order to manipulate the outcome of elections in their favor.
They remained silent as the American Marxists effectively took over the Democrat Party and subsequently instituted Nazi tactics in order to persecute their political adversaries and intimidate the citizenry.
Choosing to remain silent has eventuated in the inability of the citizenry to petition their government without fear of retribution, an inequitable multi-tier justice system, a permanently fractured society, and a universal loss of faith in the integrity of elections. These outcomes are also indicators of the onset of the final stage of a republic and the inevitable rise of a permanent authoritarian one-party oligarchy.
America is dying before our eyes and yet the vast majority still remain silent or emotionally invested in an individual or a political party and believes the upcoming election is no more than the typical quadrennial squabble between politicians, political factions, or parties.
Photto credit: public domain image