Yesterday’s images of people literally invading the Senate chambers of the U.S. Capitol are stunning. Following months of “mostly peaceful” (i.e. violent) protests in major cities last summer, these scenes conjure up comparisons to revolutionary moments in history. What they don’t conjure up, however, is the quintessential image of America. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen here.
Now, as of this writing, it is not known whether the individuals who invaded the Capitol building are Trump supporters, Antifa infiltrators, or just opportunistic loons. I tend to think they are part of the lunatic fringe of the Trump movement. That’s not a critique of Trump’s supporters. Every large movement attracts a lunatic fringe—just ask me about my pro-life activist days.
However, more important than the invaders’ identity is the fact that the Capitol of the United States—the most powerful country in the world—was invaded for the second time in its history. Previously, only the mighty British Army during the War of 1812 was able to accomplish what happened yesterday. This act shatters the myth of American invulnerability. How can we continue to say we’re the most powerful country in the world, one that sets the global agenda, when we can’t even keep a scruffy band led by a shirtless dude in a viking cap out of the national Capitol?