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  • Siobhan Kelly

AOC & The Political Veil

What happens after the Capitol attacks?

News Headlines on January 6th, 2021:

“The unfolding of ‘home-grown fascism’ in U.S. Capitol Assault” - CTV News

“World Leaders Express Horror at U.S. Capitol Attack” - The New York Times

Sounds straight out of an action movie, doesn’t it? Not so much. In fact, the world lay noticeably still, sombre, and unsurprised as terror consumed the streets of Washington, DC: Trump supporters had flooded Capitol Hill in an effort to deny the results of the 2020 election. Besides the fact that the domestic terrorist attack was planned publicly on many pro-Trump websites and forums, the Capitol police were left hopelessly underprepared for what was to come that afternoon. Citizens everywhere watched in horror as offices were torn to shreds on live television, and from the ashes, an image of the white man parading America’s Capitol building holding the Confederate flag.

According to the Washington Post, the Confederate flag first appeared in the American Civil War of the 1860s, when the 11 ‘Confederate States’ fought to protect the institution of slavery. After that, it was a prominent symbol that opposed the African American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s. Today, it remains an unsettling symbol of white supremacy and “a lightning rod in America’s calcifying racial divides” (The Guardian, 2018). (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

As heaps of new information about the attack steamrolled the media, it became abundantly clear that the tragedy might have been avoided entirely if Capitol police were better prepared. According to Forbes, the plans to attack on Jan. 6th were made public on the explicit pro-Trump website, TheDonald. On the platform, “users engaged in conversations about breaking into federal buildings, ushering guns into D.C. and committing violence against law enforcement officers who tried to stop them from storming Congress” (Forbes, 2021). On the day of the attack, Trump’s administration denied the Capitol permission to bring in The National Guard: the reserve components of the United States Army and the United States Air Force. Additionally, some Capitol officers were even spotted opening the gate to rioters, taking pictures with them and joining them in the attack.

In this Jan. 6, 2021 file photo rioting supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

So, what happens after the Capitol attacks? Former President Donald Trump was impeached by The House on Tuesday, January 12th for incitement of insurrection. In simpler terms, The House accused him of inciting and encouraged the domestic terrorist attack on Capitol Hill. This came after weeks of Trump denying election results and telling supporters to “get smart and fight”.

You have undoubtedly seen the shameful results of the impeachment trial: Donald Trump was acquitted, meaning that he was not convicted of inciting violence. As you can imagine, this decision has not been taken well by the general public.

A president should not be able to lie, time and time again, about something so consequential as election results. A president should not be able to empower an enraged group of white supremacists to invade Capitol Hill, threatening the very idea of democracy. But of course, a rich, old, white man with insurmountable amounts of money and power can get acquitted. This is a prime example of privilege in action: by not holding Trump accountable for something so fundamentally wrong, we are actively allowing it to happen again. And again. And again. No matter what political party you belong to, the reality of this trial was a glaring failure in leadership and accountability. There are 43 Republicans in the Senate who think that this abuse of power is excusable, and this is not okay! These are people’s lives that we’re talking about, and politicians need to be held responsible for their actions. Because of this acquittal, Donald Trump is still permitted to run for the presidency again in 2024 if he so chooses.

What happened at the Capitol: AOC & The Political Veil

Just a fun collage I (Siobhan) made! The ‘f*cking b*tch’ is a reference to when Senator Yoho called her that on the steps of the Capitol.

In the aftermath of all that happened in January, many American politicians took to the internet to address the public. However, some people might not know that most politicians have professional speechwriters! Often, what we think are the words of our world leaders, are actually the words of someone else behind a computer screen. Now, this is not to say that these writers aren’t reliable or well-versed in politics, but it makes our bond with world leaders much more 2D than before. Especially when it comes to trauma and accountability, most politicians will choose to shut down emotionally. Instead of being open and vulnerable with civilians, they will hide behind a political veil: a social cloak that works to subdue the retelling of events and purposely lower the stakes of a political crisis. People will hide behind this facade, claiming that everything is okay and that it is time for us to move on. Personally, I have always believed that communication and authenticity are key to building trust, so it is no wonder that the world has taken such a liking to AOC.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a living contradiction to the idea of the political veil; in fact, she actively debunks it with her vulnerable Instagram live-streams. Unscripted and spontaneous, AOC has proven her bravery countless times as a catalyst for authenticity in politics. More recently, Ocasio-Cortez took to Instagram in a heartfelt 89-minute stream detailing the events on Capitol Hill. In the video, she outlined her frustration over senators who attempt to graze over the attack, saying that these are the tactics of abusers. In a particularly emotional moment, AOC also revealed that she is a survivor of sexual assault, who isn’t used to being believed.

“I’m a survivor of sexual assault, and I haven’t told many people that in my life. But when we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, via Instagram live on February 2nd

This is a woman who is strong enough to be completely transparent as the world puts her on a pedestal, subject to criticism. This is why we have fallen in love with AOC: she radiates strength and authenticity, and she is quick to include the people in her conversations. As a young woman looking to go into politics, I feel so inspired by her courage. I think we could all learn a lesson from Alexandria: we need to allow ourselves time to process through our trauma. We don’t need to pretend like everything is okay when it isn’t. We should be able to cope with trauma on our own terms.

“These folks like to tell us to move on, that it’s not a big deal, that we should forget what happened, even telling us that we should apologize – these are the same tactics of abusers.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, via Instagram live on February 2nd

In the days following the attack, AOC told her followers that she was getting some much-needed rest from her work. Now, she has returned to The House as her usual self: a political force to be reckoned with. Since then, the congresswoman travelled around Texas to aid communities suffering from the climate crisis. She made deliveries at water distribution sites, checked homes for water damage, talked to civilians about the insulation in their homes, and of course, kept us all updated via social media. In that week, AOC was able to raise over 5 million dollars for Texans across the state.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, here is the contact info. of different help centres across Ontario.

  • Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres:

  • Support Services for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse:

  • 24/7 Crisis Line: 1-866-887-0015

  • Ontario Victim Services:

  • Victim Support Line: 1-888-579-2888 or at 416-314-2447 in the Toronto area

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