Jan. 6, 2021 will forever be remembered alongside Dec. 7, 1941 and Sept. 11, 2001 as a “day of infamy” which saw our nation attacked by those who seek to destroy the American way of life.
The most hurtful aspect is that our attackers this time were not from a foreign power. It was a band of crazed supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump who stormed the U.S. Capitol — the heart of our 244-year-old democracy — and interrupted Congress’ duty of recording the electoral vote tally.
These marauders overcame the U.S. Capitol Police and breached the building. They sent the House and Senate members into hiding. They attacked police officers and intimidated Capitol employees. They occupied the Senate chamber briefly. The National Guard had to be called in to get them out. Shots were fired. One of the thugs even planted an improvised explosive device.
There is no second side to this story; it is all squarely on one side. “Whataboutism” also doesn’t apply here; Hillary Clinton’s or Al Gore’s supporters never resorted to such depths.
Trump instigated this mob for weeks with false claims of voter fraud because he cannot handle the fact that he lost the election, fair and square, to President-elect Joe Biden. Right-wing media parroted and inflamed Trump’s rhetoric and ginned up the base even further. Ambitious “Republican” politicians egged them on further by seeking to legitimize the rhetoric as they picked their pockets for more campaign cash.
Thousands of Trump disciples, looking upon him with a warped messianic view, converged upon Washington on Wednesday ready for a fight. After a rally in which Trump acolytes fed them more lies, more disinformation, more hate and more rhetoric, the outgoing president of the United States himself stepped up to the microphone.
“You don’t concede when there’s theft involved,” Trump said, continuing his delusional lie about the election. “Our country has had enough and we will not take it any more.”
Trump lit the match and the fire caught. The scene that followed brought fear, shame and horror to all real Americans who truly respect the rule of law, and the will of people in elections.
Despite their goals of interrupting our democracy and thwarting the transfer of power, Trump and his fascist mob will fail in the end. Congress will not be stopped from fulfilling its constitutional obligations. One way or the other, they will certify Biden’s victory and he will take office as the new president on Jan. 20.
And after that, those responsible for this outrageous attack on our country must be brought to justice — to the fullest extent of the law.
We’re not just talking about the thugs who attacked our Capitol; they can and should be tried and convicted for their crimes, and thrown in prison. They should be given no safe harbor.
Trump himself must be impeached and removed from office this week; don’t wait until Jan. 20. He alone is responsible for bringing about this American carnage with his words, his tweets, his narcissism, his fascism, his anti-Americanism, his inability to do anything of decency.
Trump must go, and be disqualified from ever serving public office again — and Democrats and pro-democracy Republicans must unite to get this done.
Congress must also root out the Trump disciples from within. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who sought to legitimize Trump’s election fraud claims by organizing objections to the electoral vote certification Wednesday, must resign from office immediately — or be expelled from the Senate.
Their collaborators in the House and Senate should face censure or expulsion as well.
Those responsible for this attack must be brought to justice and held to account. It is no longer about the election; it is about the survival of democracy itself.
It is about ensuring that fascism never again takes hold in the United States of America — and it breaks our heart that we have to even write that sentence.
We must return to being a society where parties can have their political disagreements but ultimately respect the will of voters in the end.
We must return to being a society in which all the representatives of our government do not abuse their own power and authority to impose their will upon the rest of the country.
We must return to being a society that embraces truth, fact and law — one that doesn’t retreat into echo chambers full of “alternative facts” that propagates delusion and disrespect.
We must return to those values — for if we fail, we will lose the republic for good.
This editorial originally appeared on amny.com.