Some of us have been around long enough to have witnessed legitimate protest and to have at least seen images of coups, attempted coups and brainless mobs acting in service of nothing much but chaos.
What we witnessed Wednesday in Washington was certainly among the latter. It was not an example of patriotic Americans exercising their right to protest.
Those were thugs wrapped in our national flag — an insult to us all, but especially those who’ve taken oaths to protect and defend the Constitution — terrorizing citizens, destroying public property and trampling the rule of law.
It might be impossible to determine whether it was an attempted coup, an organized action with a political aim, or just a mob. That matters very little right now.
Wednesday was not a terrible day for Democrats or liberals or any other subgroup. It was a terrible day for all Americans, and it demands a few things.
We know who is ultimately responsible for this sedition; this crime against everything truly American, including the memories of every real American who ever died in defense of our core values.
That’s Donald J. Trump. He has lied and baited and incited from the beginning. It’s his only skill. He should leave now. Just go. Let the most junior dishwasher on the White House kitchen staff run the country until Joe Biden can take over. The nation would be better off.
We know who has abetted the sedition. Notable for our purposes is Ted Cruz. He, along with every other elected official who has parroted Trump’s false, divisive and self-serving fable about the election, should resign. Just go. Emigrate, perhaps to one of the several kleptocracies around the world where the crass inclination to keep power at any cost and curry favor among the powerful by any means might be an asset. It’s not here, and the people of Texas deserve better than him.
Everyone who wants anyone to take seriously their claims to patriotism must denounce this mob action against the physical and legal structures of our republic.
For some, it’s already too late for that.
Many people were asking some obvious questions Wednesday, and those questions need answering.
Among them is where were the tear gas and the rubber bullets, the dogs and oak batons when this mob was invading and vandalizing the seat of our national government?
Law enforcement in this country has routinely used greater force to defend pawnshops and hardware stores from rioters.
Where were the armored cars and the secretive Homeland Security police in their combat gear who broke heads in Portland in May when our elected officials were being driven from their posts by an armed mob on Wednesday?
The threat of this insurrection was clear and present. Why was the full force of law and order not also present?
Someone must answer for the feeble response.
• Michael A. Smith