One might reasonably ask why any nonprofit, let alone a nonprofit lender, should dare to comment on politics. Isn’t that best left to pundits and politicians? In ordinary circumstances, I might agree—to a point. But these are not ordinary circumstances. Last Wednesday a mob of insurrectionists, personally incited by the President of the United States, stormed the Capitol as Congress met to certify the results of a free and fair election. The insurrectionists did not merely intend to express their first amendment rights. They were prepared to take hostage and murder elected officials and journalists. They killed a police officer. They literally defecated in the halls of our so-called Temple of Democracy. They wore clothing which celebrated the Holocaust, along with Neo-Nazi and MAGA regalia. They broke windows, carved Murder Journalists into a door, defaced statues, looted the office of the Speaker of the House of the world’s oldest and “greatest democracy”. They accomplished what the Confederacy failed to do during the Civil War: an already famous picture shows a rioter proudly displaying the Confederate flag inside the Capitol. And again, they did all this at the direction of President Trump, who, speaking to them just hours before the coup attempt, said “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength. You have to be strong…We’re going to march down Pennsylvania Avenue and…take back our country.”
Last summer, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, it became almost fashionable to proclaim that Black Lives Matter. Corporate America and nonprofit America and average American citizens posted the slogan on their social media accounts and yard signs and front doors. And yet I am writing this, not on behalf of Capital Good Fund, the nonprofit of which I am the Founder & CEO, but rather in my personal capacity, because I am keenly aware that in America even forcefully denouncing an attempted coup carried out by white supremacists is a risky endeavor: I cannot afford to jeopardize my nonprofit’s funding sources. Of course, there is a cruel irony in the fact that Capital Good Fund, a social justice organization, is in the position of having spoken out in support of protests for equality but then being too afraid to publicly condemn a riot which is antithetical to not only to the notion of equality, but to the very possibility of justice. That there is risk—to our reputation, to our sources of funding—in putting out such a statement says a lot about how catastrophically unjust America is, the extent to which we have failed, time and again, to reckon with our slave-owning, genocidal, blood-soaked history and present.
Many commentators have noted the shocking-yet-not-surprising difference between how police treated peaceful BLM protestors and the rioters: the former were met with an overwhelming show of force while the latter were carefully escorted from the Capitol as though they had been on a pleasant tour of the building. At the same time that the President, and the vast majority of his party, is actively subverting our democracy, he is also, through inaction, indifference, and incompetence, failing to address a pandemic which is now killing nearly 4,000 of its citizens every day, especially its citizens of color. It is difficult to wrap one’s head around the extent of the outrages, how extreme and unacceptable every aspect of the past four years has been. Speaking out against these outrages is nice, but woefully inadequate. Absent consequences for the President, his abettors, and the rioters—removal from office, jail time concomitant with the gravity of the crimes—we will be sending a message to our most vulnerable citizens, and to people the world over, that if you are Black or Brown or Native, you get empty words and gestures; and if you are white or rich, you can still do and get away with whatever you want.
I am embarrassed to say that I don’t feel it’s worth posting this on behalf of Capital Good Fund. Why risk it? We are doing well, changing lives, raising money from a lot of well-heeled funders that might not take kindly to our speaking out on “controversial” issues. I’m embarrassed by my weakness; I’m embarrassed to live in a nation where statements such as these are necessary; and I’m embarrassed that there can even be any controversy in calling out the glaringly obvious, despicable, and unacceptable.
Never forget that in 1923, nearly a decade before taking power, Hitler attempted a clumsy and even somewhat comically inept coup in the infamous Beer Hall Putsch. He got a slap on the risk; his supporters got the message that they can get away with it; the nation tried to move on; and all the while, Hitler was plotting his next move. Evil doesn’t rest, doesn’t move on, doesn’t respond to nice rhetoric. We have a chance to learn from history, to avoid greater horrors to come. The question is, will we muster the courage? I hope we do, which is why I call on Congress to impeach and convict Donald Trump, to expel those Congresspeople that cheered on these horrors (such as Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley), and to prosecute, to the fullest extent to the law, not only the rioters but, in particular, those who led, inspired, and funded them. Anything less is an abomination, a dereliction of duty, and an invitation to more lawlessness, chaos, and bloodshed.
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