The International Policy Digest published my article on the January 6 insurrection attempt at the United States Capitol, along with a solid dollop of promotion of the “Surmountable” book. Here is an excerpt with a link to the full article.
How Americans Surrendered the Mantle of Artful Peaceful Protest
FEBRUARY 27, 2021
We Americans, a hubristic lot, imagine we are exceptional at most everything. Even our name is a conceit, one nation in the Americas, and nah, we are the real Americans.
There is certainly a huge dallop of delusion in the notion of America as a beacon of human rights, civil liberties, peace and freedom, leaders of the free world, standard-bearers of democracy, guardians of the rule of law, and the separation of powers. Still, as I travel the world, I am continually impressed by the deep and abiding admiration this country commands, large, radioactive warts notwithstanding. Especially the two-fifths of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that guarantee that Congress shall make no law abridging the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Peaceably.
On the 6th of January – already that date bursts with meaning and imagery – the utter failure of Americans to grasp its own traditions came home to roost. “Patriots” violently intruded on the lynchpins of constitutional freedoms. The five dozen court rulings, the validated elections of the 50 states, the establishment by state and federal election officials that there was no evidence of fraud, were all repudiated and scorned in an orchestrated attack on the Congress, with murderous intent, cheered on by the President of the United States.
These conservative standard-bearers, who never saw a protest they didn’t disdain – Black Lives Matters, women’s rights, climate change – bastardized the notion of protest into, “We take what’s ours.” Ours being predominantly white, male, and Christianist.
I recently traveled around the United States – and four continents – to visit activists and thought leaders who witnessed or analyzed 13 iconic political protests, from Selma, Standing Rock, Occupy, and the Bonus Army, to Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, Ukraine’s Euromaidan, and South Korea’s Candlelight Revolution. What struck me repeatedly was the fresh, passionate convictions of overseas protesters, religiously nonviolent, and vividly aware of the U.S. tradition of people’s governance, as a contrast to the declining understanding at home of the need to protect and nurture our political traditions. Our history of native genocide, slavery, and endless military misadventures aside, they struck me as more appreciative of American civil society than Americans.
In the printed chronicle of that trip, Surmountable, co-written with Adam Monier Edwards, we document a litany of absurd gaps in citizen education.
To read the entire article, go here.