Reflections on Wednesday, January 6: The Danger of Political Idolatry


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Elyse Kim '21, Editor-in-Chief

On Wednesday afternoon, I was working at my desk when a notification appeared on my phone.

“The U.S. Capitol is in lockdown after pro-Trump protestors forced their way into Congress, halting the election certification.”

One after another, new notifications filled the screen. As I opened the articles, I was horrified by images of far-right extremists invading the Capitol Building, the very seat of American democracy. 

In an election cycle plagued with political turmoil and civil unrest, it was clear that this was not just another protest. This was a threat to our democratic system and an event that is antithetical to every ideal the United States is supposed to stand for. 

As the story is still developing, I still feel the haze of Wednesday evening. I don’t have any answers or polished conclusions. All I know is that as we enter a new political chapter, this riot will not — and should not — soon fade from memory. Instead, January 6, 2021, will likely be defined as one of the darkest days in American history. But as we move forward as a newspaper, a school community, and a nation, we should remember this day as we seek unity and political cooperation.

More than anything, it’s crucial to understand how we arrived at this point. As I heard rioters chanting “USA! USA!”, I wondered how, in their minds, this act of violence would help or promote our country. It’s clear that to these extremists, “USA” does not encompass the interests of the United States as a whole, but rather their single-minded devotion to President Trump and his political agenda. In this way, the rampage should remind us of the danger of the cult mentality. Leaders are fundamentally imperfect, and when we idolize one person, we neglect and endanger the population that these leaders are supposed to serve. 

Wednesday will forever be an example of what can happen when we lose sight of what unites us as a people and a nation. So when I look back on January 6, I’ll remember the title of my last article: “We Are Not Enemies.” No matter the horrors that plague our country, we have a responsibility to seek understanding and bridge political divides.