On 7 Jan., Michelle Obama shared a powerful statement condemning the violent pro-Trump mob that stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, as well as the failed response from authorities, and offered sound guidance for what Americans can do to heal from and confront yesterday's disturbing events and the reactions that followed. In her response, the former first lady criticised Trump for inciting the insurrection, demanding consequences for his failed leadership and urging people to grapple with reality and take steps towards improving this nation.
"The day was a fulfilment of the wishes of an infantile and unpatriotic president who can't handle the truth of his own failures."
Like many of us, Obama said she woke up yesterday feeling elated and hopeful hearing news of Reverend Raphael Warnock's historic victory as Georgia's first Black senator. But her sentiment quickly changed as she watched a mob of angry, mostly white Trump supporters charge the centre of American government, and even worse, be treated with little resistance and consequences by authorities. "The day was a fulfilment of the wishes of an infantile and unpatriotic president who can't handle the truth of his own failures," she wrote. "And the wreckage lays at the feet of a party and media apparatus that gleefully cheered him on, knowing full well the possibility of consequences like these."
She continued on to discuss the pain she felt seeing the contrast in responses to yesterday's riot and the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. While nonviolent protesters fighting for racial justice were met with aggressive force and mass arrests, the mob at the Capitol took selfies as they were safely escorted out of the building they deliberately attacked. "Yesterday made it painfully clear that certain Americans are, in fact, allowed to denigrate the flag and symbols of our nation," she wrote. "They've just got to look the right way."
Looking toward the future of America, Obama said she believes true progress can only be accomplished once we — not just a single politician or political party — all do "the work of putting America back together" and acknowledge the disconnect in our country. "And that also means coming to grips with the reality that millions voted for a man so obviously willing to burn our democracy down for his own ego," she wrote.
"Now is the time for those who voted for this president to see the reality of what they've supported — and publicly and forcefully rebuke him and the actions of that mob."
While she admitted she doesn't have "all the solutions to make things better," she does know that "now is a time for true patriotism." The first steps towards healing the country? "Now is the time for those who voted for this president to see the reality of what they've supported — and publicly and forcefully rebuke him and the actions of that mob. Now is the time for Silicon Valley companies to stop enabling this monstrous behaviour — and go even further than they have already by permanently banning this man from their platforms and putting in place policies to prevent their technology from being used by the nation's leaders to fuel insurrection. And if we have any hope of improving this nation, now is the time for swift and serious consequences for the failure of leadership that led to yesterday's shame."
She ended her impassioned statement by saying it will ultimately fall on each of us to do our part to lead our country forward. "It will be an uncomfortable, sometimes painful process. But if we enter into it with an honest and unwavering love of our country, then maybe we can finally start to heal." Read her words in full ahead.