by Maria J. Stephan
for Waging Nonviolence

To prevent future far-right violence, first we need accountability. Then we must build movements capable of transforming our social, political and economic systems.

Following the Jan. 6 insurrectionary attack on the U.S. Capitol and on the country, the FBI has warned of violent actions being planned in all 50 states and D.C. nationwide next week. Last week’s assault, which was incited by Donald Trump, enabled by GOP officials and members of Congress, planned on social media, and buoyed by deeply entrenched white supremacy and Christian nationalism at the heart of our democratic dysfunctionality, were not attacks on any political party or ideology — they were attacks on all of us. The entire country has to be involved in responding to what could become a protracted violent conflict or, quite possibly, an insurgency. At the same time, this crisis, happening in the midst of a devastating pandemic, presents an opportunity to come together and build a country where liberty and justice are enjoyed by all Americans, without exception. It is an opportunity we should seize.

What happens over the next 10 days will set the tone for what happens over the next 10 months and 10 years. In the immediate term, the national response should focus on ensuring accountability and telling the truth about the election, exploiting divisions between those committed to democracy and those willing to destroy it, and preventing further violence from far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys and QAnon. Longer term efforts require an honest reckoning with the white supremacist roots of our political malaise, addressing the toxic nature of polarization in this country fueled by social media platforms’ monetization of hate and division, and building and supporting movements capable of transforming our social, political and economic systems…

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