No Condoleezza Rice, Black Americans can’t afford to ‘move on’ from Jan. 6 insurrection

OPINION: Sophia A. Nelson criticizes Rice's comments on "The View" and says the former secretary of state should know better having grown up in the segregated south.

Condoleezza Rice
(Photo: The View/ABC)

There are few women walking this earth who I admire, intellectually and professionally, more than I do Condoleezza Rice. The first Black woman to serve as the White House’s national security advisor as well as the first Black woman (and only the second woman overall) to be U.S. secretary of state. 

Admiration aside, I take issue with Rice’s recent comments on The View about the need to “move on” from the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and, instead, attend to the People’s business. 

Sure, Rice agreed that the events of Jan. 6 were “wrong,” but she doesn’t quite go far enough. 

The reality is that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been working for the past ten months to pass infrastructure reform, voting rights reform, policing reform and fight off a once in a 100-year pandemic. They have been blocked at every turn by Republicans Senator Mitch McConnell in the Senate and Congressman Kevin McCarthy in the House. 

The Republicans are the ones who refuse to govern; to address rising gas prices, food prices, medicine costs, and on and on. Dr. Rice’s comments were tone-deaf and completely reminiscent of the country club Republican Party I grew up in under President George HW Bush

The Republican Party then was nothing like this new one under Trump, however, that party was clueless as to the grassroots, groundswell of white nationalism, grievance politics, anger at the system, anger at government and the like, that led to the founding of the “Tea Party” in 2010 — that notably came to rise during the presidency of America’s first Black commander in chief Barack Obama — and into a full radicalized right-wing extremist party in 2021. 

That is what really troubles me about Rice’s dismissive comments. She is smarter than that. But what Rice wants to do is move on because like so many feckless and spineless Republican officials and past leaders, they simply do not have the stomach to stand up to Donald Trump. They want to “wish” him away and hope that he will just fade into the dust. They are dreaming. He is not going away anytime soon. 

Not to mention, establishment Republicans like Rice, and those left within the Republican Party who are decent, are ignoring the role of race in all of this. Let us not forget that at the core of the anger of Trump insurrectionists was the historic turnout of Black and Brown voters who ousted Trump from the White House and elected Biden and America’s first Black woman vice president, Kamala Harris. At the core of their anger is also the browning of America, which has been used as propaganda on Fox News to promote the white nationalist “replacement theory.”

What has followed Trump’s Big Lie has been a reverberation of the power of the Black vote evidenced by restrictive voting laws from Republicans in states like Texas and Georgia that very clearly seek to circumvent the Black vote. Simply put, Black and minority voters — who risked their already vulnerable lives during a pandemic — stand in the way of the agenda of Trump and his feckless followers in the Republican Party.

(Photo: Zach Gibson – Pool/Getty Images and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Where we find ourselves nine months after the nation suffered the Jan. 6 insurrection is complete social and political chaos. Trump and his minion Steve Bannon have opted to defy congressional subpoenas and instead assert executive privilege. Congressional Republicans on Friday opted not to enforce their own Article I oversight powers by overwhelmingly voting against holding Bannon in contempt. That same day in the Senate, Republicans voted against even debating the voting rights bill. They wouldn’t even debate it. Let that sink in.

So, no Condi we are not going to just move on from the worst breach of the U.S. Capitol since the war of 1812. We are not going to just move on when men and women attacked the cradle of our democracy and physically assaulted our Capitol police — leaving many injured both physically and emotionally. Several in the wake of the attack, took their own lives due to the mental duress of it all. This is not something that a ‘free’ nation can overlook, or just move on from. 

If we look away we will be in deep trouble in the 2024 general election. Because right now, Republican Governors like Gregg Abbott in Texas are replacing secretaries of state with their cronies, so that they can get re-elected — not by a fair and free election but by fiat. They will declare their candidates the winners, no matter what the ballot count shows. Worst of all, they are willing to restrict the votes of Black and Brown Americans who historically have been disenfranchised.

Voting Rights Protest in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
People participate in a protest in support of counting all votes as the election in Pennsylvania is still unresolved on November 04, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The work of the Jan. 6 Select Committee is important. Only two Republicans out of the entire GOP Conference of over 212 Members stood up to be counted and agreed to serve on the committee. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney (daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney) and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger

If someone as intelligent as Secretary Rice doesn’t see that this is not OK and that our democracy is broken, we are in deeper trouble than I thought. 

She grew up in the segregated south, she knows this better than I ever will. Condi Rice grew up with the four young Black girls who in 1963 were murdered in a Black church in Birmingham, Alabama. She knows the evil of white nationalism and authoritarianism — because she lived it. 

Condeleezza Rice
US Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice (L) and actress Cicely Tyson attend a memorial service for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks at the St. Paul AME Church October 30, 2005 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

So, how then can she ask us to just move on? It just doesn’t make sense. 

As we look at a pivotal gubernatorial election here in my home state of Virginia in a few weeks, and I see the rise of culturally divisive issues from critical race theory to LGBTQ rights, bullying citizens and elected officials at school board meetings, canceling people with whom we disagree and demanding they be punished, banished and destroyed. I see the rise of anti-democratic virtues and values. 

We are becoming the very angry mob that we saw storm the Capitol this past January. If we do not stop these dark forces from rising again, we may not be able to stop them from overtaking us the next time.

Sophia Nelson

Sophia A. Nelson is a contributing editor for theGrio. Nelson is a TV commentator and is the author of “The Woman Code: Powerful Keys to Unlock,” “Black Women Redefined.”

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