What I was watching was an actual coup d’état unfolding before my very eyes. One believes these events occur in other countries, not Canada or the United States, where we uphold democracy. I was dumbfounded, shocked, disbelieving. Where were the guards? Where was the security? How could these people just run up to the front door of the US Capitol Building, virtually unopposed, and begin smashing windows with impunity?
It brought my mind back to the research I have been doing on my new book, provisionally titled A Good Japanese Wife, in which two different coup attempts occurred in Japan at the time of the Second World War. In the first coup attempt, an ultranationalistic group wanted to force Japan to go to war and attempted to take over the Imperial Palace and the government buildings to pressure the government. Two former prime ministers were killed and other government officials but the acting prime minister survived and the rebellion was quelled.
The second coup attempt occurred at the time of Japan’s surrender to the Allies, when rebellious Imperial Army officers refused to admit defeat and stormed the government building to try and prevent the Emperor’s taped surrender speech from being broadcast. They almost succeeded but the prime minister hid in the basement of the building with the tape and was not discovered. After the rebellious officers were captured, the speech was played to end WWII.
To see a coup d’état play out on live television before my eyes made me realize just how tenuous democracy can be, how easily people can be swayed by charismatic sociopaths and propaganda, and how important it is to guard and uphold the truth. The rioters on January 6th had been lied to by their President. They are being charged and arrested but the person who instigated the riot, the insurrection, the attempted coup, still walks free. That hardly seems fair.