Let me begin by reproducing a Facebook post by my son, Prof. Tobias Barrington Wolff:
“One of the things that is making me so angry that I cannot yet process it is simply this: You know who has never engaged in a violent insurrection against the U.S. Capitol and destroyed and defiled the seat of Government? Black Americans. Native Americans. Chinese Americans. Female Americans. Japanese Americans. Mexican Americans. Muslim Americans. Jewish Americans. Guatemalan / El Salvadoran / Nicaraguan Americans. LGBQT Americans. Despite the decades and centuries of history that could make those groups feel, you know, “angry” or “frustrated” or “not listened to” or “not seen” or “like they cannot make politics work for them.”
We are going to talk about this, White fragility be damned.”
First of all, the importance of all of us “coming together.” Politics in the United States is a never ending activity of compromise, even on matters near and dear to our hearts. It Involves running for election to public office, which requires persuading large numbers of people with quite diverse interests, passions, and commitments to join in voting for a candidate who is never the ideal and perfect representation of the totality of one’s beliefs. It continues with the enacting of legislation, the drafting of which involves endless compromise with those seeking different outcomes from one’s own desired goals. All that is required to participate in this political process is the willingness to continue to fight for what one believes in. All of that is coming together.
There is no coming together with those who attempt by violence to destroy the political process itself. There is only war. After one wins the war, there can be a time for reconciliation but not before. As my son rightly points out, the assault on the Capitol was carried out not by those who have for generations been abused and oppressed and exploited, but by those who feared that their dominant position in America was beginning to slip away from them and who could not bear the thought of sharing their power with those whom they had for so long dominated. Those now issuing calls for us to “come together” are the Neville Chamberlains of American politics
As for “moving on,” there will be time for that after we have located, charged, tried, convicted, and jailed every last one of those insurrectionists whom we can find. I see no reason why that should interrupt Biden’s ambitious plans for his first hundred days.
One final word before I stop. Biden has chosen for his Atty. Gen. someone who was an undergraduate majored in the Social Studies Program of which I was the first head tutor at Harvard 60 years ago. I hope he is not going to make me sorry for what I did.