The Historic Selfie

🇷🇸 OVAJ TEKST JE DOSTUPAN NA SRPSKOM JEZIKU

It is already clear that the sixth day of 2021 was the one for the books, to be forever recorded in the histories of politics as an event unlike any other before. The violent breach of the American congress on Capitol Hill in Washington by a large group of protesters is a precedent that laid bare the weaknesses of the US political system, fueling an already-existing divide in the American society. If we consider that America stood as a beacon of democratic political system in the world, global consequences of this breach and the crisis are inevitable.

However, let’s not get into the political analysis of the event as such. The topis we want to zero-in on is the people in the masses who breached the Congress and strolled leisurely around the hallways and offices of the Capitol as if they came for a frat party, trying really hard to capture memories of the day when they seized the seat of the supreme legislative body of the United States of America.

The reason why we are dealing with this topic lies in the fact that something really defeats the logic in the act. Wouldn’t it make sense for those who illegally and violently enter someone’s property to hide their true identity from being later discovered by the police? A true and tested bank robber would never leave a crime scene making a selfie with some dollar bills next to a bag of money that clearly shows the logo of the bank he robbed, so as to publish the selfie soon after getting into an escape car on his social media, counting money, likes and shares after getting into a safehouse. 

Judging by the video footage from 6th January from Capitol Hill, there were many people who did exactly that in the American Congress. The photo that went viral globally was of a protester who was all smiles sitting, feet up, in the chair of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. This person not only published a selfie but also bragged about leaving a convenient hand-written note on the table for Madam Speaker. 

Another merry rioter was grinning while carrying a speaker stand that he stole, waving cheerfully to his comrades and a wild group of demonstrators who took photos during the breach. Lest we forget, one truly memorable and viral snapshot from the scene that took media and internet by storm was of a tattooed man in bison hide and matching horns who became an unruly mascot of the sad event. 

Looking at the rowdy crowd, the overall impression is that they were happy and proud for breaking into the Congress building. At the same time, they seemed surprised by their own actions – having succeeded to enter the building – without a clear idea what to do next, once they got in. As it was obvious that no one planned on what happens after the breach, the ensuing chaos in that case was an obvious next step.

While it would be easy to label these people as stupid, ignorant fools who had no idea what they were doing, it would be very wrong to do so. Despite the surprise of the entire world to hear that Capitol was unexpectedly breached, the roots of the problem are deeper and older than the event in question.

Weeks prior to the breach, Trump was sending messages – still holding the office – inciting people to stand up to the alleged election fraud, inviting them to Washington on 6th January to stop the formal confirmation of Joe Biden as the next President of the USA.

After all, the rioters breached the Congress carrying, among other things, flags with Trump’s name and signs with his campaign slogans, fully believing that they are on a mission given by the President himself. If the acting head of state is making a call to action, it makes sense for the action to be regarded as legal, right? You are doing a noble deed, a hero’s work. Hence, no reason to hide your identity.

In addition, the campaign that took form after the election in both its tone and content was natural progression of the communication manner that Trump perused during his entire mandate. His statements, tweets and overall activity created an alternative reality, readily available to all of those willing to accept it. He managed to create an army of followers by offering simple and easy answers to complex issues and large-scale problems of the modern world, while packing lies as alternative facts that were easier to digest.

The success on this front is thanks to the reality-show experience from his past which proved to be more relevant than political expertise and leadership skills.

Despite all of this, Trump should not bear these accolades alone. We simply cannot turn our heads from all the other reasons that allowed these events to took place. One of key factors was the state of media that played this “vaudeville” piece. This scene is ruled by social media in which the beauty of falsehood beats the facts each and every time, with truth becoming what we choose the believe in the first place. Without this, Trump could never have succeeded in putting a spell on such a large number of individuals, infecting and spreading the virus to an extent it reaches a pandemic. 

The President Trump show just aired its last episode. The formal closing credits on 20th January saw Trump leaving the White House and Joe Biden moving in as the new head of state. What comes in the sequel is still unknown – we are yet to discover the plot. The entire world is at their toes with anticipation, trying to figure out where the story will go from here. The finale is still far away, still hard to guess.

We have no clue how the history books will title the events of January 6th 2021 when the American Congress was violently breached. Jill Lepore offers two possible answers to this question in her New Yorker daily comment:

  1.     “The Rise and Fall of Donald J. Trump”
  2.     “The End of America”

Whatever the correct answer is, the faith of more than just America is at stake.

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