Perspective: What the Siege on Capitol Hill means for a Jewish teen


Photo Courtesy of the National Geographic

Faith Spalding, Article Contributor

What the Siege on Capitol Hill means for a Jewish teen – Faith Spalding

Just two weeks ago, our country’s entire democracy was challenged by domestic terrorists. The siege on capitol hill resulted in a riot, five deaths, over 60 arrests, and investigations from the FBI. The fact that a group of people can become so radicalized, so violent, and face few repercussions astonishes me. Even more terrifying were some of the faces seen at the so-called rally. There was a man with a sweater saying “Camp Auschwitz” at the front and “Staff member” on the back. There were Proud Boys wearing “6MWE” shirts (6 million wasn’t enough – the number of Jews Nazis murdered during the Second World War.) There were chants of “Sieg Heil,” and people loudly proclaiming how Hitler was “right”. 

Antisemitism or any other sort of discriminatory behavior towards any race, religion, sex, etc., threatens members of those communities’ sense of security but also jeapordizes social cohesion and the very values of equality we built our country on. As a jewish teen, it’s heartbreaking to see antisemitism so normalized. Every summer at my jewish sleepaway camp, we have drills and protocols in case gunmen come on campus. At my old temple, there were always armed security guards present. It was vandalized several times. But to see people who have never been persecuted for their religion, race, sexual orientation or gender wear shirts proudly proclaiming that the deaths of 6 million jews “wasn’t enough” makes me devoid of any thought. How can someone be so full of hate? Can someone genuinely have such little care for human life? How can someone wear shirts emblazoned with swastikas and the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” – “work makes you free,” the very words put on the gates of Auschwitz, the death camp that executed over 1 million innocent men, women, and children. 

As I write this, I’m currently scrolling through social media, reading comments from thousands of sympathetic people. But I am also looking at hundreds of comments from Holocaust deniers, people saying that Antifa orchestrated the whole siege, and many, MANY people blatantly excusing these men’s actions by saying, “it was just a few people.” These are the same people who associated all BLM protestors with the riots that occurred, despite 93% of the protests being peaceful. So, using their logic, I view the whole group of rioters in the capitol as nazis. To see these people’s actions go mostly unpunished, despite vandalizing the very place where our nation’s constitution is upheld scares me. These people view Donald Trump as some messiah, but when in reality, this man has tarnished the United State’s reputation beyond repair. Just as protesters were breaching the capitol, threatening the lives of our country’s lawmakers, our president was tweeting, “Go home, we love you, we care about you.” 

Now, Trump is currently being impeached for “inciting insurrection,” a charge that came just five days after the capitol’s attack. NPR reported that “Donald John Trump engaged in “High Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States,” citing his calls to Georgia’s Secretary of State where he urged Brad Raffspringer to “find” around 12,000 votes to overturn the election results. After several states counted and re-counted ballots, there was no evidence of widespread election fraud, the central claim Trump and his supporters had for an illegitimate election. After months of lawsuits and baseless election fraud claims, it’s more than clear that now President Joe Biden won the election and has been ratified by the senate, the same day of the capitol riots. By encouraging his supporters to “rally” for a fair election, Trump encouraged the baseless election fraud claims and was even supposed to march with them, though he soon backed out. As of Jan.20th, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as the 46th President and Vice President. As a result, Kamala Harris made history as the first women Vice President POC. The inauguration took place at the very Capitol of our Nation that was besieged only two weeks ago. 

For weeks, all I have been hearing is how divided our nation is. And while I strongly agree with that statement, I can’t help but wonder: is it ignorance or simply hate? Half the country supports a man who not only incited a riot that led to five people dead; called nazi’s “very fine people,” after Charlottsville in 2018, where “Unite the Right” mobs clashed with protesters and ended with a neo-nazi plowing his car through a crowd of people, killing Heather Heyer.  At some point, people must be held accountable for their actions, ESPECIALLY if they are the people in power. Although i’m optimistic about the new presidential administration, the last couple of weeks have challenged our nation’s very institutions upon which it was founded. The actions taken against our very democracy deserve repercussions. The lasting bigotry, anti semitism, racism, homophobia, sexism, and xenophobia the Trump Administration has all but encouraged has only divided us more. I’m hopeful for a brighter future, and as Amanda Gorman proudly proclaimed at the inauguration, “The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it; If only we’re brave enough to be it.”