I am not a religious person. I’m not even a Christian, but as I watched the storming of the US Capitol yesterday on live television, there was one sign held up by a rioter that caught my attention more than any of the others.
It read: JESUS 2020
Since no one named Jesus was a candidate in the 2020 Presidential election, I could only assume that the purpose of this sign was to equate Jesus Christ with Donald Trump, since some of Trump’s most die-hard fans have attempted to do so, including his son, Eric, who recently declared that his dad “literally saved Christianity.”
But, again, although I am not a Christian, I have read a few things about Jesus Christ, particularly that he advised his disciples to heal the sick, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons without payment, and even stated: “Freely you have received: freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)
Clearly, Christ honors caring, kindness and compassion so, even more clearly, he would not have supported the actions of yesterday where violence, chaos and disruption were employed in an attempt to destroy freedom and democracy.
The fact that a comparison of the two men was even made defies logic, but logic tends to fly out the window when anger and rage overtake common sense, as was the case with yesterday’s failed coup.
Many women, including myself, have recently expressed, mostly in private, that living under the Trump presidency was very much like being in a domestic violence situation, particularly if we’ve been in one before, as I have. I was a child then, the only daughter of a violently abusive father living under his complete authoritarian control. While Trump couldn’t physically hurt me, as my father did, many of the same painful emotions were again triggered, like feeling depressed, powerless and even hopeless by an insecure and hostile hyper-masculine male who possessed merciless authority to make decisions impacting my life, and those I loved.
Upon leaving my father’s home decades ago, I promised myself that I would never be in such a vulnerable position again, and never thought I could, as an independent adult. But Trump reminded me very much of my father, exemplified by his rampant racism, misogyny and deep insecurities. Perhaps that is why I fled to Canada, to escape just three months before the election. As a child living in an abusive home, one learns to survive by becoming acutely aware of the slightest sign of impending violence in order to protect oneself. Deep down in my gut, I could not shake the feeling that the Trump presidency would swell to a level of mass violence before it would end. Many friends who were also survivors of domestic violence confided that they felt the same.
It is actually quite common for the escalation of violence to crest at or near the point of conclusion, so yesterday’s assault is not surprising. “The most dangerous time for a domestic violence victim is just at the time of escape, because she’s escaping control,” said feminist and activist Gloria Steinem. She added that another very “dangerous time is after winning a victory: particularly when there is a majority change in consciousness.” Yesterday’s backlash was therefore bound to occur due to the Democratic party’s victory over Donald Trump in the November presidential election, coupled with that same party’s success fewer than 24 hours before the attempted coup when both Democratic challengers in Georgia won Senate seats in two hotly contested races, putting an end to Republican majority control of the US Senate.
But just as we would never ask a domestic violence survivor to reconsider her decision to flee despite the increasing threat to her safety, we would not expect a political leader to succumb to hostile threats by armed rebels attempting to forcibly overthrow our democracy.
And, again, although I am not a Christian, I suspect that’s what Jesus Christ would want as well.
Lori Sokol, PhD., is the Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief of Women’s eNews. She is also the author of She Is Me: How Women Will Save The World (She Writes Press, 2020)