January 6, 2021, was one of the most surreal days in my lifetime. There are not many “where were you” moments coming out anymore, but when a group of irate supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building following a rally, we all knew that this would have a lasting impact on the nation, and few of us will forget where they were when they first saw the images of people scaling the walls surrounding the Capitol in what seemed to be riot gear.
Of course, Democrats seized on this immediately, and will forever point to this event as a “dark day” in American History. You can bet the house that Democrats will continue to use this day as political fodder at least until Donald Trump no longer matters to the Republican Party, and probably not until he passes away. But this is not the first time that Republicans have given the Democrats something to focus on, it won’t be the last, and simply providing the Democratic Party with talking points is not the lasting damage of January 6.
Republicans, on the other hand, scrambled to figure out how to spin the event. Some used it to distance themselves from Donald Trump. Others tried to blame the riot on federal agents who infiltrated the group and convinced them to raid the Capitol. Still others tried to explain that Trump had explicitly instructed the mob to “peacefully” protest at the Capitol. Whatever way any given Republican tried to spin it, it definitely caused a fracture in the Republican Party. But the Republican Party was able to rebound, and despite there being those in the party who like Trump, and those who loathe him, that was always the case, and this, too, is not the lasting damage of January 6.
It is now May of 2022, almost a year and a half after the fateful day, and for the first time since then, the country is facing an event that can illicit the same vitriol as the certification of the 2020 election. That is the impending announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe. For reasons of brevity, we won’t go into why this announcement can illicit such a response, but if you don’t know by now, ask the person sitting next to you.
The announcement has been made that on the day that the decision is set to be announced, there will be beefed up security around federal buildings, private homes, and other areas that may be targeted. The statement coming from intelligence services includes the idea that violence could erupt regardless of the outcome. Conservative commentators everywhere addressed this by pointing out that violence will only be committed by one side should the announcement not go their way. Here’s the thing, though: You can’t say that anymore.
You know why? Because that’s what you said regarding the 2020 election. Only one side – the side that had been rioting for months after the murder of George Floyd – will riot if they don’t get their way. And then what happened? That side got their way, and your side rioted. Now, you don’t get to say that only the Left will riot after the announcement. It can come from both sides.
And really? You can’t envision a reason for the Right to riot upon the announcement? If the SCOTUS decision comes out that enough justices changed their opinion to keep Roe in place, you Conservative commentators will be the first to blame the justices for swaying to public pressure. You don’t think that those heavily invested in this fight for 50 years would be a little angry, angry enough to riot? That is entirely in the realm of possibility at this point.
And that is the tragic lasting damage of January 6. This was an undisputed area where the Right had the moral high ground. “At least we don’t riot when we don’t get what we want.” You can’t say that anymore. All sides riot – even yours.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.