Clarksville, TN – On Wednesday, January 6th, 2021, as both houses of the U.S. Congress, met to count the electoral votes, angry rioters assaulted the U.S. Capitol.
The event, which left four people dead and a nation was shaken, only briefly delayed the counting of votes.
Dr. Minoa Uffelman, Austin Peay State University professor of history. Dr. Uffelman’s research focuses on U.S. and Southern history, and she received the University’s 2020 Distinguished Professor Award.
Dr. Kevin M. Baron, Austin Peay State University assistant professor of political science. Dr. Baron’s research focuses on the American presidency, congress, political power, and institutional reforms.
Dr. Uffelman’s statement on the January 6th events
“Americans’ concept of our great democracy was shattered yesterday as we saw a coup attempt on the Capitol. Our country will never be the same. The president inflamed his supporters to storm the Capitol. This attack on our democratic government was the culmination of years of attacks on our constitution and an undermining in the belief in the integrity of free elections. In a democracy, there is a peaceful transfer of power. Trump refuses to accept defeat and hopes to reject majority rule and maintain power.”
“A widely circulated photo of a Confederate flag in the capitol is astonishing. During the Civil War, the U.S. successfully defended the Capital against the Confederacy. The irony, probably lost on the insurrectionists, was that he stood in front of a portrait of Charles Sumner who was beaten almost to death on the floor of Congress because he wanted to end slavery. The violent incident contributed to the drumbeat toward war.”
“What happened on January 6th was not a surprise. Far-right media forums have been planning this violence for weeks. They wanted a Civil War-type overthrow of the government. The Confederate flag perfectly symbolizes their goal. Trump invited them to D.C. They came and they acted.”
Dr. Baron’s statement on the January 6th events
“It is difficult to put into words the state of American democracy in this moment, following yesterday’s events that unfolded with the President of the United States inciting a riot that stormed the Capitol Building, interrupting Congress’s certification of the Electoral College votes and vandalizing the building. Partisan polarization has been a hallmark of American politics for the past few decades, but in this moment, it is clear that our democratic health is waning. The president’s unprecedented assault on fact, use of propaganda, and Republican members of Congress and right-wing media continue to sow distrust and spread false information that has led to the violent insurrection from an out-of-control mob yesterday. Since the late-19th Century, the U.S. has not witnessed the type of obstruction and refusal to accept the election results and engage in the peaceful transition of power that we are seeing in President Donald Trump. These actions and the heated rhetoric that has marked his presidency is shown to influence the actions we have seen from Charlottesville, VA in 2017 to the Capitol yesterday.”
“It must be noted that law enforcement has become far more accepting of right-wing protest and rioting than from any other group. The response in Washington, D.C. to peaceful protestors this summer marching for racial justice who were met with rubber bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades is stark to yesterday’s actions in seeing Capitol Police removing barriers to allow rioters into the Capitol building, along with some posing for pictures with them. It is a shameful display of the racialized nature of our justice system, where some are afforded the full rights of citizenship while others are expected to obey.”
“There is no easy path to democratic health, and yesterday’s events were merely the culmination of decades of hyperbolic rhetoric, lies, propaganda, and falsehoods that have permeated our political discourse. The time has come for the citizens of the country to once again determine what we, as a society choose to honor and value. Will it be democracy and a just society built upon the ideals the writers of the Constitution espoused but failed to achieve, or will it be to continue the descent into polarization and authoritarianism. Democracy is fragile and we have seen how easily it can break.”