EYESHENZHEN  /   Opinion

An infamous day in US history

Writer: Winton Dong  |  Editor: Jane Chen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2021-01-11

On Jan. 6, while U.S. congresspersons were debating and counting the electoral votes for the presidential election in the Capitol, hundreds of supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Congress building, using violence to stop the lawful certification of the Electoral College Vote.

In 1814 when Britain invaded the United States, the Capitol was occupied and burnt by the British army. But this time it was breached by its own people. According to media reports, turbulence in the Capitol caused standoffs and even conflicts between police and protesters, and at least five people have died and 52 arrested in the violence. On Jan. 7, a joint session of the Congress confirmed that Joe Biden won the election by winning 306 votes, with 232 votes going to Trump.

President-elect Biden called on Trump to go on TV to order an end to the Capitol mobs. Trump is commonly blamed to be the instigator of the violence. Regarding the presidential election fraudulent and incorrect, Trump has not yet acknowledged his failure, although he has promised an "orderly transition" of power after the deadly riot and the Congress certification of Biden's win. "We will never give up, we will never concede," he insisted.

Trump even pressured Vice President Mike Pence, the presiding officer who was in charge of the joint session to count the electoral votes, to overturn the result, but Pence refused to do so. On Jan. 6, Pence wrote an open letter to all congresspersons. "It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not," he wrote.

Not satisfied with Pence, Trump criticized him by saying: "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent and incorrect ones which they were asked to previously certify."

Trump's instigative and law-defying actions have aroused antagonism from home and abroad. Disappointed with the outspoken and divisive president, U.S. deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger resigned on Jan. 6. Several other Trump officials also quit. Some others are also reportedly thinking of leaving their posts.

"Armed protesters have stormed the U.S. Capitol. This is a coup," the Atlantic magazine said. Former U.S. presidents including Barack Obama and Bill Clinton also condemned Trump for inciting the riot. In a statement, Clinton said the violence resulted from a combination of deliberate disinformation that created distrust in the system and pitted Americans against one another. Chuck Schumer, Democratic Party leader in the Senate, even compared the Capitol riot to the Pearl Harbor Incident. "Then President Franklin Roosevelt once said that Dec. 7, 1941 must be always remembered for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Today is also an infamous day for the United States. Jan. 6, 2021 should be added to the list," Schumer said.

Trump is also the first U.S. president openly punished by social media. Twitter permanently suspended Trump's account after initially freezing it for 12 hours. Facebook took similar measures, banning Trump from posting before the end of his term. On Jan. 7 when Trump made a statement, he had to use the account of White House spokesman Dan Scavino.

Foreign leaders also aired their views. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concerns about the violence. British Prime Minister Boris Jonhson said that there should be an orderly power transition in the United States.

Comment from a Lebanese diplomat went viral online. "If the United States saw what the United States is doing in the United States, the United States would invade the United States to liberate the United States from the tyranny of the United States," he said.

(The author is the editor-in-chief of Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)