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Lies have consequences. The insurrection that was attempted as the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives gathered to certify the election results on January 6, 2021 was incited by the President’s lies. The violence that ensued as they stormed the United States Capitol was evidence of how far people will go to keep a lie alive.
As I watched a mob break into “The People’s House,” I heard numerous commentators tell their viewers, “This is not America. This is not who we are.” Friends, we must face the truth. This is America, and this is who we will always be until we can tell ourselves the truth about the lies we keep alive. The lies are bigger than the disinformation put forth by the President, and bigger than the lies that went unchallenged by Republican leaders for months. There is a deeper falsehood that drives what we witnessed in the nation’s capital as Congress met to certify the results of the electoral college.
The lies at the core of our national psyche loudly proclaim America as exceptional. The lies frame a story of heroic individuals who tamed a wild frontier and built the most powerful, prosperous, and righteous nation the world has ever known.
The reality is far different. It is the story of radical settler colonialism and violence rooted in white supremacy. It is the story of the pursuit of prosperity and power made possible by genocide and built on the labor of the enslaved.
The mob’s arrival in Washington, D.C., was not spontaneous. President Trump extended the invitation weeks ago. When the crowds arrived at his mask-less super-spreader event, he fed their fury about his loss of the election with more lies. Because lies have consequences, within two hours, the crowd became a mob and stormed the steps of the Capitol Building, then scaled its walls, broke windows, and violently breached the institution. Once inside, the mob rummaged and vandalized the legislative offices, and one in the mob was hit by gunfire and died. Three others died from medical emergencies.
President Trump has repeatedly ignored calls to speak to the American people to urge peace, and instead, he has taken to social media to incite further violence with claims that the election was “stolen by evil people.” The social media platform Twitter eventually locked his account (temporarily), but not before he could repeat more lies about the integrity of the U.S. elections.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” In that sense, Mr. Trump’s party has betrayed the American people with their silence and must be called to account. The Electoral College’s results must be unanimously upheld, and those who refuse should be removed from office.
America was born with the birth defect of white supremacy and until we cure it and renounce our love affair with the violence required to uphold that ugly deformity, the sickness displayed today will always reside in the heart of the American experiment.
It takes courage and strength to face the truth. I am praying with Dr. King for all Americans to take courage and be strong.
“Show us the lies that are still embedded in the soul of America’s consciousness. Unmask the untruths we have made our best friends. For they seek our destruction. And we are being destroyed, Lord. Reveal the ways the lies have distorted and destroyed our relationships. They break your shalom … daily … give us courage to embrace the truth about ourselves and you and our world…. give us faith to believe: Redemption of people, relationships, communities and whole nations is possible! Give us faith enough to renounce the lies and tear down the walls that separate us with our hands, with our feet, and with our votes!”
Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson is the 26th executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR-USA), founded in 1915. Under her leadership, FOR-USA is adopting a reparative lens to pursue justice and racial reconciliation in the United States. Ordained by the Concord Baptist Church of Christ in 1989, her leadership among New York’s advocates and organizers has centered on advocacy for children. As executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund – New York, she worked with advocates to name and address New York’s cradle to prison pipeline crisis; prioritize youth justice within New York’s diverse faith communities; and close abusive youth prisons redirecting resources to invest in youth and their communities. Rev. Jordan-Simpson is a graduate of Fisk University, Union Theological Seminary, and Drew Theological Seminary.