As I watched the insurrection at the Capitol Building live in Washington DC on January 6, I struggled to control my emotions. The disturbing images and video footage filled me with dismay and disbelief.
The scenes brought back some old memories, which I had hoped to erase permanently. Not once after I made the United States my new home in 2009 did I imagine I would see what played out on Wednesday night.
While waiting for my resettlement to the United States, I learned that everyone looked up to this nation as a “beacon of hope”; on January 6 I felt we, as a country, witnessed an attack on that vision.
As I attempted to shield my five-year-old daughter from those terrifying images, I wondered whether the country of her birth is no longer a safe place. This awful incident at the Capitol could be part of a new era where Trump and his allies might continue to play the cards of violence and chaos in order to divide and rule.
I draw this conclusion because I’ve seen and experienced firsthand how dictators and autocratic regimes rise by spreading misinformation and inciting violence in an attempt to remain in power.
The regime in Bhutan, where I was born, did everything it could in the 1980s and 1990s to blame others in the same fashion Trump does now. It also deliberately singled-out people who weren’t native-born.
In Nepal, where I stayed as a refugee for close to two decades, I saw how the dictatorial king made an unsuccessful attempt to rule the country forever. In the same country, I also witnessed closely how insurgent Maoists took thousands of innocent lives and caused billions of dollars of damage to infrastructures. Despite those horrendous realities, maoists always claimed they were peaceful.
Now as a United States citizen building a life and a family here, I feel the same — Trump has dictatorial tendencies, and he is capable of using home-grown terrorists and other extremists to advance his political agenda and attempt to remain in power.
The Capitol incident is nothing less than an act of ‘domestic terrorism’ incited by a serving president and executed by a crowd of his supporters including some who could, by their actions, be well described as ‘domestic terrorists’.
And it seems they felt inspired by Trump’s call to those attending a rally a few hours earlier – at which he spoke – to march on the Capitol Building. He even said he would march with them, which of course he didn’t, rather choosing to watch the situation unfold from the comfort of the White House.
This insurrection not only shook the country, it also left the world watching in disbelief. Some world leaders were quick to point the finger at Trump for inciting such a violence.
Trump, although he has now reversed his position, initially called these acts a peaceful protest, which is and should be a cause of grave concern; some might have joined the rally to air their political beliefs, but it is clear that others had more sinister aims to terrorize the nation.
As the stand-off at the Capitol Building continued, president-elect, Joe Biden, took a different view describing events as “one of the darkest days in the history of our nation”.
And Biden went further. “Don’t dare call them protesters,” he said, “they were a riotous mob. Insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists. It’s that basic. It’s that simple.”
There was a shift of tone from Trump 24 hours after the march on the Capitol Building when he claimed he was “outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem” and promised that his focus would now turn to “ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”
Despite the change in rhetoric, the more Trump lingers in the office, the more damage he could create by promoting his unsubstantiated claims about the election results despite the fact Congress has certified the votes from every state and affirmed Biden’s win. We still have less than two weeks before Biden is sworn in, and that’s a heck lot of time for Trump to cause more damage to our democracy and the country.
But what about the future? As Trump and his allies attempt to rewrite American history with hatred and violence, those of us who consider such concepts as alien have a different and a significant role to play. Our role is to restore the values and principles that are the foundation of this country in order to ensure that the US remains a beacon of hope and a land of opportunities.
The author is the Executive Editor of this news site. Views expressed here are those of the author. BNS welcomes diversity of opinion.