January 6, 2021 marked one of the darkest days in American history. A group of misled Americans inspired and incentivized by virulent toxic and deceptive rhetoric, waged war against their own country, specifically by occupying and vandalizing the National Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
Civil dissent gave way to sedition, as the mob stormed the Capitol Building and proceeded to violently destroy a symbol of our nation’s fabric, under their banners of distorted patriotism, avowing to replace the rule of law and true democracy with an alternately imposed system guaranteeing exclusive rights to a privileged white supremacy segment of our citizenry.
The mob was encouraged and enticed by some of the very same people entrusted to represent and protect our American values and way of life. It is neither a coincidence nor a surprise that our public discourse has become combative, even conspiratorial. If our so-called “leaders” and guardians of democracy hold our values of discourse in contempt, we cannot be shocked when people respond voluntarily and violently.
Efforts to divide and even destroy the country over two centuries have mercifully been unsuccessful, but those periods of crises should have been teaching moments for how precious and precarious democracy can be.
Democracy is not a passive process; it requires our vigilance and engagement to protect and preserve. Citizenship makes us all stakeholders in the solemn duty of guarding democracy for ourselves and those who will inherit it from us. This is only attained when we take on the responsibility as citizens to uphold our system of laws and strive to improve the primacy of justice embedded in it. As stakeholders, every American can and must be part of the task to defy and defeat anti-democratic forces.
Therefore, MCHR condemns the use of violence and disregard displayed towards our nation’s institutions of democracy, under the guise of political engagement, including its incitement and normalization by politicians, media figures and others.
Finally, MCHR calls for national and local dialogues and coalition of all groups and individuals that share a commitment to our nation’s highest ideals and our potential for building a more perfect union through the protection and preservation of democracy, human rights, and equal justice for all.
MCHR is an interfaith non-profit organization founded in 1980 by Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, the late Rabbi Richard Hertz and the late Episcopal Bishop H. Coleman McGehee. MCHR promotes awareness of, commitment to, and advocacy for human rights through education, community organization, and action. MCHR opposes forces that suppress human dignity, freedom, and justice locally and around the world. MCHR also organizes and sponsors Freedom Tours that take high school students to civil rights sites in the south to educate them about our nation’s civil rights history and inspire them to be our future justice leaders. Visit mchr.org.