Gandhi, History, and the Lessons of the Events at the Capitol
The rapid decline of American newspapers is robbing us of, among many other things, classic headlines. It took the Times of India—in what remains the world’s great newspaper nation—to really capture the events at the U.S. Capitol last week: “Coup Klux Klan,” it blazed across its front page, communicating the sense of giddy white entitlement, like a picnic at a lynching, that gave the event its distinctive and disgusting tone.
Maybe it’s just easier to see reality from a distance. We’re so used to the background noise of racism in this country that erecting a gallows with a noose on the West Front of the Capitol or carrying a Confederate battle flag through the halls of Congress doesn’t register as alarming as it should. Revulsion at the Capitol siege should be, in large measure, revulsion at the bigotry that underlies it—it was, after all, carried out in the service of absurd claims about election fraud, most of which depend on disenfranchising huge blocs of Black voters. And it’s possible that this could be one of those moments that helps us come to terms with that past: the shock of people storming Congress, killing one police officer and wounding several others as they hunted for elected officials, might be a catalyst for really dealing with the ugliness that defines too much of American history.