1/6 – A Year Later

By Jim Mullen
Emergency Management, Once Removed

January 6, 2022

Twenty years from now, historians will no doubt exhaustively parse the meaning of January 6, 2021’s insurrection, attempted coup, rebellion, the act of sedition (pick your descriptive term).

In 2021, I offered my recollections/reactions on the 20th anniversary of two major events – the Nisqually Earthquake and the 9/11 attacks. I will go out on a limb (just a bit!) and suggest that in 2041 I probably will not write a piece remembering 1/6/21 (I’ll be 94 or hope to be!). It is way too early to assess the long-term impact of 1/6/21’s insurrection by anti-American “Americans.”

That stipulated, the immediate threat represented by 1/6/21 cannot be dismissed as a “one-off” or “spontaneous” occurrence. It was not. Our nation’s security depends on how seriously we take ongoing, organized efforts to undermine our Republic.

Emergency managers and homeland security professionals are charged with minimizing negative or destructive impacts of disasters, whether natural or human-caused. They prepare as best one can within the limits of existing resources amid the daily pressures that stem from whatever is happening at any given time. Unfortunately, COVID’s intrusion has added more stress to those traditional public safety roles.

As I have observed before, the best thing about being an emergency manager is that in a critical situation, it matters little if one is documented or undocumented, liberal or conservative, trusting or hostile toward the government. When human beings are endangered, injured, and their lives disrupted, the emergency manager’s job is to minimize consequences, ease human suffering, and facilitate recovery. In a crisis, our humanity takes precedence.

A quick flashback to my youth: one summer evening in 1956, my father and I were returning to our hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, when we encountered hooded marchers waving Confederate flags, chanting “all bow to the KU Klux Klan” – demanding that men “remove their hats” in deference. My politically conservative (in 1950’s terms!) father refused, calling them cowards for hiding their faces and traitors to our country. A police officer ordered Dad to move along – he could/would not protect us.

My father explained later the “march” was the least of these hooded creatures’ offenses; they were capable of despicable, inhuman behavior. They were to be reviled, opposed, and cast out from decent society; they represented a threat to our nation’s fundamental values. That was a lot to absorb at age 8, but after that experience, I absorbed it!

I submit that the residue from 1/6/21 threatens our homeland’s security today, in plain sight. The philosophical descendants of those Nashville Klansmen back in 1956 needn’t don hoods anymore: some sit in Congress (with or without committee assignments), others wearing normal street clothes bully school boards, election officials, and anyone else that might enunciate (small “d”) democratic values. “1/6/21” was a traumatic manifestation of an internal threat to our homeland security – in plain sight, and it must be confronted, defeated, and consigned to the trash heap, now. “Later” will be too late.