Republicans, Democrats, Democracy Project condemn violence
The attack on the U.S. Capitol was a reminder of how fragile democracy can be. The leaders of political organizations across Rollins have provided statements, reflections, and recommendations on what this historical event means for American political culture—and how to move forward from it.
Below are the statements from the Rollins Republican Club, the Rollins College Democrats, and the Democracy Project, who have all worked extensively over the years to increase political awareness, discussion, and participation at Rollins.
Sofia Frasz (‘22), Republican Club President
The Rollins College Republican Club believes that the initiation of violence is never acceptable. Emotions are running high this year, and we urge everyone to seek non-aggressive forms of self-expression. We must persuade each other with civil discourse, not with force. Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of a free society, and we must exercise it with kindness and conviction instead of resorting to violence to get what we want.
The more freedom of speech is restricted by governments and by big media corporations, however, the more difficult it will be to exercise this fundamental human right. The riots at the Capitol occurred during a time when not even the former president of the United States is allowed to advocate for peace on social media, and when many right-leaning members of the public are being banned from or censored on social media simply for exercising their right to peaceful freedom of speech.
Left-leaning media outlets have ridiculed Trump supporters who believe the election was fraudulent by calling them conspiracy theorists and extremists, instead of considering their frustration with the apparent decline of democratic institutions with empathy and open-mindedness. Therefore, I strongly disagree with those who participated in the riot at the Capitol, but I understand why they felt that violence was the only solution.
If we want to build a more tolerant, kind, and civil society, we must recognize that freedom of speech is for everyone, even those with whom we vehemently disagree. By censoring dissenters, we only encourage them to resort to extreme, violent measures of expression instead of peaceful ones, because we have blocked off all their avenues to peaceful expression.
Riots are the language of the unheard; if we wish to stop future violence, we should give people with whom we disagree a chance to be heard.
Nourhan Mesbah (‘21), Rollins College Democrats President
The insurrection that unfolded on Jan. 6 was not a random, isolated event. It was the result of years of division, proudly xenophobic propaganda, deliberate misinformation, and America’s broken moral compass. The terroristic riots that occurred were an attack on our democracy, our freedoms, and the safety of our republic. Evidence has since surfaced that many rioters had plans to gas, hurt, or damage Congresspersons. Trump supporters on online platforms, such as Twitter, were publicly rallying for a beheading of former Vice President Mike Pence. This followed after Pence supported the ratification of the election results for a Biden win.
These attacks were never about Republicans vs Democrats. Debating the differences between universal healthcare and a single-payer system is political. Insisting that those in lower income-brackets do not deserve healthcare is a moral issue. Even further, calling for an attack on politicians and civilians that disagree with you is a moral issue.
Jan. 6 was about the cult-like support for Donald J. Trump: the twice impeached, one-term President who lost the popular vote twice and did nothing for our country but divide us and threaten our rights.
While Trump certainly did not invent the long-existing institutional faults in our government, he gave a voice to violent racists, xenophobes, and white supremacists. America has always been racist, but he validated and energized racists to attack the U.S. Capitol. He pushed their QAnon propaganda and racist conspiracies until they became legitimate pieces of federal politics and legislation. Supporting this is not a political difference. It is a moral and ethical problem.
We should not be living in fear of our lives. Congresspersons should not be living in fear. To move forward, we need to ensure this can never happen again. We need to rebuild our democracy and focus on uniting and energizing the progressive voices that have been shut out. We need to be having the difficult conversations, and questioning when political differences really become a moral difference. We need to start making change to institutions, and not just focusing on winning one election, but rather removing the institutional failures that allowed Trump to violate our rights and nearly destroy our democracy.
We need to focus on what unites us and build a class conscious. We need to adopt anti-racist policies that delegitimize white supremacy. Politics needs to return to being about governance and the people’s voice.
I look forward to seeing the changes that President Biden’s leadership brings.
Sophia Allred (‘22), Democracy Project Student Coordinator
The riots at the Capitol were a direct threat to American Democracy. As such, the Democracy project condemns the riots that took place at the Capitol. This assault on our institutions shows just how delicate our democracy is and how hard we must work to preserve our right to be active participants in our government. These riots demonstrated the cracks that are present in our institutions, and we must not fall victim to these cracks.
Free and fair elections are a pillar of American democracy, and we must continue to participate in elections at all levels to have our voices be heard. We must use our collective voices to condemn these acts of violence by voting.
Protest is an important part of our First Amendment right. Rioting is not. There is a blatant difference between protests and rioting. Rioting and violence have no place in our democracy.
The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur or Rollins College.