The following was written by Ethical Society of St. Louis Leader James Croft.
Terrorists stormed the US Capitol today in an unprecedented act of sedition after receiving verbal support from the sitting President. For hours violent mobs prevented Congress from performing its legally-necessary democratic functions, causing havoc as they smashed windows, occupied the House and Senate chambers, and caused at least one person to be shot to death. This was nothing less than an attempted coup, and one that for a short time was successful. Our elected representatives were forced to hide under desks and don gas masks as American citizens terrorized them in the very heart of American democracy itself.
While the scenes today are appalling they are not entirely surprising. These grotesqueries are the predictable conclusion of a presidency that has, at every turn, encouraged the growth of dangerous right-wing extremism. Trump, ahead of the presidential election, repeatedly refused to say he would support a peaceful transfer of power should he lose. He has repeatedly used the pulpit of his presidency to incite his supporters to refuse to accept the legitimate results of the election. He has lied incessantly about supposed irregularities in the election. Just hours prior to these shocking events he encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol and, after they had taken over the Capitol building (and in the very statement in which he belatedly called on them to leave) he restated the false claim that this election was “stolen.”
Trump is not solely responsible for today’s events, however. The political forces which have given rise to today’s treasonous insurrection have been building for many years, facilitated at every turn by complicit politicians. Continuous attempts to restrict the franchise through gerrymandering and voter suppression; repeated opposition to any expansion of the welfare state to limit the deleterious effects of huge inequalities of wealth; an anti-political nihilism which has prevented any meaningful reform in nearly any area of politics; the courting of the worst parts of the human psyche, including racism, sexism, nationalism, homophobia, and anti-scientific conspiracy-theorizing for political gain – all these cynical acts of democratic vandalism have placed the very experiment of American democracy under threat.
As Leader of the Ethical Society of St. Louis, I deplore today’s assault on democracy and the political poison which provoked it, as inimical to the Humanist values our community promotes. We in St. Louis stand in solidarity with the Washington Ethical Society, the Northern Virginia Ethical Society, and the Baltimore Ethical Society, which are much closer to these frightening events than we. We pledge to continue our work to oppose the sinister political forces which are seeking to undermine US democracy and work for the day when Americans can be confident that their wishes, as expressed through the ballot box, will be honored, and all people’s rights and liberties upheld.
– James Croft EdD, Leader, Ethical Society of St. Louis