The events on January 6th have been called a riot, a protest, an insurrection, a vicious mob, and the list goes on. Although as a community we cannot all agree about what happened to the Capitol on that catalytic day, we do know that the deep divide in our country has only grown. For this reason, we decided to gauge the thoughts of the Belmont Hill community after this event. In this article, we as writers will first share our opinions, then relay the diverse thoughts of the Belmont Hill student body.
Personally, we are outraged that this happened and that people, including the President, still defended the attackers. These people who attacked the cornerstone of our democracy, bringing their violence and even bombs to the Capitol, have been called patriots and freedom fighters by politicians and civilians alike. They are nothing less than terrorists. Furthermore, the police response was angering. Some policemen let the attackers through, others took selfies with them, and overall it took far too long for these insurrectionists to be removed from the capital. The National Guard was nowhere to be found and was not deployed in sufficient numbers until late in the day. During BLM protests, when people had no intention of undermining the government, the National Guard stood ready, guarding the city and engaging protestors at every junction. The irony is that the protests against police brutality were met with police brutality, while those with treasonous intentions faced little resistance. We are aware that it is not an apples to apples comparison and that the deployment was much more difficult for the unexpected riot, but, all the same, the discrepancy is noticeable. It is a sad reality that if the attackers on January 6th had been anything other than white, many may have been killed. Those that survived would be facing calls for the death penalty from the same people who now so fervently defend the white attackers. People who attempted a coup on our country and desecrated our democracy are only just recently being rounded up, while large numbers of people were arrested during the BLM protests.
It is encouraging that both Democrats and Republicans have condemned the riots, but it is disheartening that anyone could view attacking our national seat of government as patriotic. When asked about the most serious problem facing our country, many students responded with the ideas of political divides and false information, two definite causes of the riots. As a community our separate ends cannot converse reasonably, unless we forgo preconceived notions of the other side. We must find ways to settle our differences and look at each other as peers and fellow Americans. That said, Belmont Hill has done an adequate job attempting to bring the student body together. However, to fully address the overarching problem, progress needs to continue through DEI work, and changes need to be implemented that come from the volition of the student body.
Transitioning from our own opinions to those of the student body, we will spotlight some results and responses from a survey sent after the riots. “Belmont Hill is primarily democratic, and so as a conservative, I feel separated from the crowd and I feel like my opinions are technically allowed to be voiced but are frowned upon and the other side of the story is neglect,” a student responded. After reading several other similar responses we began to observe the dichotomy between the liberal and conservative sides on campus. As evident in the quote above and others, conservatives feel isolated and sometimes scared to share their opinions. They fear that they may receive backlash from other students and faculty and that voicing their thoughts could leave them ostracized in our community. Another quote proposed a solution to this problem: “During our discussions we only focus on one side of the events. We need to look at both sides and actually find out what was bad and what was good.” This is an interesting question for Belmont Hill that we look to dig deeper on in the future.
The Capitol Riots did influence political views at Belmont Hill in an understandable way. The November survey that gauged political support among students found that 64% supported the Biden/Harris campaign while 30% supported the Trump campaign. In our more recent survey conducted after the attacks found that 15% expressed some support for Trump. Additionally, the percentage of students that would have supported Trump in the election dropped from 30% in November to 15% after the events at the Capitol. The community was more split on the decision to suspend Trump’s social media accounts, with 37% neutral or dissatisfied. Overall, trends for Trump’s approval decreased after the January 6th Events, which was expressed by the Belmont Hill community.
The riot on January 6th has had a profound effect on the nation as whole and on our school community. Support for the former president has cratered as many politicians distance themselves from the administration. This was similarly mirrored in our student body. In this age of unprecedented disunity, contempt for the attacks is one thing that we all share. Hopefully, the next few months will bring healing and reconciliation, as well as the beginning of a discussion that will lead to meaningful change.