Opinion | Assault on the Capitol: America’s ‘Dark Night of the Soul’

To the Editor:

Re “Trump Incites Mob: Rampage in Capitol Forces Evacuations; It’s ‘Part of His Legacy,’ a Republican Says” (front page, Jan. 7):

Where were the tear gas, rubber bullets and mass arrests used on peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters? White supremacists largely escaped consequences after storming Michigan’s Capitol, so why not storm the U.S. Capitol?

Every intelligent person saw this coming. So were law enforcement agencies deliberately told to stand down?

Between inciting an armed, violent takeover of the Capitol and pressuring state officials to discount legally cast ballots, President Trump is attempting a coup. If knowingly, it’s treason. If not, he’s mentally ill.

As former Defense Secretary William Cohen said, he’s unfit for office and should be pulled immediately, before he initiates military actions domestically or internationally. Will the G.O.P. finally choose country over party and stop him?

Two weeks is a long time for a deranged person to have the full powers of the U.S. presidency at his fingertips.

Marge Acosta
Centerport, N.Y.

To the Editor:

As someone who voted for President Trump, I am shocked and outraged about what is happening in our country today. If anyone else had been president, the National Guard would have been called out immediately, and the vandals trashing the Capitol would have been hauled out, arrested and prosecuted.

On Jan. 20, when Joe Biden becomes president, I hope his Justice Department will prosecute Mr. Trump for sedition and other crimes.

Michael J. McPherson
New York

To the Editor:

It is an insult to all Americans that Vice President Mike Pence voiced outrage and horror at the day’s events upon the restart of Wednesday’s electoral vote certification. Thanks to his willingness to enable President Trump, Mr. Pence, along with a vocal group of other government officials, including Senators Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley and Mitch McConnell, are unquestionably responsible for the attack on the Capitol.

These officials long ago mortgaged their political integrity to fall into the good graces of President Trump’s rampant and rabid fan base, forgoing any relationship they had to truth, decency and the institution of democracy. The damage and fatalities at the Capitol, as well as the almost totally eroded trust in our government, fall directly on their shoulders.

May our electorate hold them accountable.

Gabe Downey
Southfield, Mich.

To the Editor:

To the members of Congress who dropped their opposition to the counting of the Electoral College votes in the wake of Wednesday’s events: Really? Does it take a riotous ransacking of the Capitol to change your mind? Clearly, rational argument, supported by a mountain of evidence, is insufficient. Only when the political winds turn deadly do you listen.

And let us not forget those lawmakers who were still unswayed. This is what American politics has come to.

Manish Mehta
Oberlin, Ohio

To the Editor:

As a psychiatrist, I usually help people relieve their feelings of guilt and shame. But there are times when shame is a justifiable emotion. Wednesday was arguably the darkest day in recent American history. Every American should feel deep shame over this egregious triumph of mob rule. It was truly our country’s “dark night of the soul.”

Ronald W. Pies
Lexington, Mass.

To the Editor:

Whom do we have to blame for the attempted coup by President Trump and his supporters? Mr. Trump himself and the lawless thugs who participated, of course. But, more important, the sycophants in the Republican Party who have supported and encouraged Mr. Trump for the past four years; the propagandists at Fox News who have conspired with him to spread falsehoods, conspiracy theories and anger to line their own pockets; and a number of so-called “pillars of our society” — wealthy businesspeople who have supported a patently dishonest, racist, incompetent and hateful president to preserve their tax breaks.

Shame on all of these people! They knew full well the character of the person they were supporting, and Wednesday’s events should be no surprise to them.

David S. Elkind
Greenwich, Conn.

To the Editor:

To the protester who vandalized Nancy Pelosi’s office and put his booted foot on a desk there, and to the person wrapped in a Trump flag who occupied Vice President Mike Pence’s chair on the dais of the Senate, here’s a thought: If you don’t like the way things are being done, if you think there should be election reform, if you don’t think you’re being heard, run for office. Occupy your own office and sit in your own chair rather than breaking into and using those of someone else.

Shondell Spiegel
Los Angeles

To the Editor:

I am trying to sit with why the events at the Capitol affected me so strongly. I think what we witnessed was the psychic violation of the country. No matter how one feels about Congress, it is a kind of sacred space of struggle and history, and it was invaded. I think it was a collective blow to us all.

Graham Marks
Alfred, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Have we finally come to the point where people will stop saying, “Oh, it’s just Trump being Trump”?

Harvey Glassman
Boynton Beach, Fla.

To the Editor:

Re “Trump Incites Rioters” (column, Jan. 7):

“You can call them rioters or terrorists or coup plotters,” Nicholas Kristof writes. Words matter, and what we call things matters. If I were a Proud Boy, would I want to be remembered as a revolutionary, as an insurrectionist, or as just a member of a disorganized, angry, destructive mob? Which would boost my prestige among those I want to recruit to the cause?

These people were a vengeful, angry, disorganized mob, misled by their dear leader and committed to nothing other than expressing anger, protest and vandalism. Let’s call them what they were. They were nothing but a mob, and that is how they should be described. Calling them anything else implies to them and their allies and potential recruits that they were, in some way, freedom fighters.

Gene Asner
Chicago

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