‘This Is Not Who We Are’ Is a Great American Myth


The crisis at the U.S. Capitol shows that Americans lack a shared understanding of their political past and present. Transitional justice can help.

Wednesday’s events reflect a double standard between how law enforcement responds to different groups based on their race. Last year, Black Lives Matter protesters were overwhelmingly peaceful but were subject to ill treatment by the authorities and smeared as rioters and looters. By contrast, some conservative politicians and news media have denied, excused, and even defended the pro-Trump insurrectionists who attempted to seize the citadel of U.S. democracy and managed to walk away from the scene.

The anti-democratic behavior and racism that have defined the Trump era should be addressed through transitional justice: first, so that Americans can develop a shared understanding of their political past and present, and second, so that there can be justice for all.

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Foreign Policy