January 14 would go into American history books as being both a surreal and highly defining day.
Surreal, in the sense it was just eight days ago that pro-Trump supporters and far-right groups breached the US Capitol Building to protest Donald Trump’s election loss, as Congress debated the 2020 Electoral College vote certification. They came, saw and created grief! A gallows – replete with a hangman’s noose – was set up on the grounds of the Capitol as insurrectionists and anarchists were chanting “Hang (Vice President Mike) Pence” and “Kill (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi”!
Several were spotted waving the Confederate flag. To contextualise this spectacle for those in Nigeria, it would be like watching a group of Biafran secessionists violently force their way into the National Assembly, and proceed to triumphantly wave the flag of the defunct Republic of Biafra. The raw symbolism is bound to make a vast number of Nigerians apoplectic with rage! Still, it isn’t really at par with the far uglier symbolism of the American spectacle.
The Confederate states were the slave-owning southern states who lost to the Union Army in the civil war that ensued after they decided not to comply with President Abraham Lincoln’s ‘Great Emancipation Act’ that outlawed slavery illegal in America. The flag became anathema to all people of colour who had to shed sweat, tears and blood to procure voting rights and other civil rights reserved exclusively for Whites.
An insurrectionist could also be seen gleefully carting away the official lectern/podium of the House Speaker as a booty. Yet, it was behind the same lectern that Pelosi stood to announce the outcome of the impeachment proceedings defiantly conducted in the same chamber!
Highly defining, in the sense that by the time the dust settled, President Donald John Trump was impeached a second time, this time for ‘incitement of insurrection.’ This made him the first and only POTUS to be impeached twice in the US history – more so within a first term presidency!
A Malay proverb posits that “Clapping with the right hand only will not make a noise.” Trump had many enablers in the media and at all levels within his own Republican Party. These were the ones who gave extensive mileage to his unfounded and baseless fantastical allegations by serving as invaluable echo chambers. If they had opted to tell the truth from the onset, the American polity would’ve been easily spared the traumatic convulsions that buffeted it. They must equally be held accountable for the fallouts of their contrived deception.
It is true, as American essayist Edgar Watson Howe (1853 – 1937), noted, that “People tolerate those they fear further than those they love” – a hypothesis earlier enunciated by Niccolo Machiavelli in his best-selling classic, “The Prince.” But truth be told, the enablers of Trump are not really walking in total lockstep with him out of fear, as conventional wisdom dictates. Fear is only a symptom of a disease called uncertainty. A case in point is in 1844 when the Whig Party-controlled Congress commenced impeachment proceedings against a mutinous John Tyler, who had succeeded Whig Party President Zachary Taylor after the latter died in office. They ultimately declined to impeach him because there was no ironclad assurance that his likely acquittal would devastate the party.