johnathon henninger photo / all rights reserved

TERRY COWGILL

I’m in my seventh decade of life and have spent the last 25 years as either a journalist or pundit. It’s safe to say that I’ve seen a lot during that time and much earlier as well.

I was six years old and living with my family in Dallas when the president of the United States was shot and killed in broad daylight on a city street. Along with the majority of Dallasites, my parents wept.

Five years later, both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy would be assassinated. Shortly after King was reported shot, I recall my father telling me that if the civil rights leader were to die, then all hell would break loose. Dad was right.

Two months later after I turned 11, my family moved to the South Side of Chicago just as the 1968 Democratic Convention was getting underway. A new friend and I climbed a tree and watched a tense stand-off between heavily armed police and demonstrators.

I recall vividly the murders of student demonstrators by national guardsmen at Kent State University two years later and the look on my friend’s face in Kent, Connecticut, when she told me her brother had been killed in combat in Vietnam. That same year, a separatist group kidnapped a British diplomat in Montreal and murdered the deputy premier of Quebec. The trauma that the terrorist episode inflicted on Canadians was still evident six years later when I arrived in the province to begin university.

I was sitting with friends and fussing with the radio in a car in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the evening of Aug. 9, 1974, when President Richard Nixon delivered his resignation speech. On Sept. 11, 2001, I was driving to work in the Hudson Valley when, just to my west, a hijacked jetliner diverted from Boston roared down the valley to strike the World Trade Center.

As awful as 2020 was – the onset of a deadly pandemic, a severe economic recession, racial unrest on a scale not seen since the 1960s – 2021 could be even worse. I’ve seen a lot of evil in this world, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw on that dark day on Jan. 6, 2021.

We’ve all seen a lot of bad stuff. And as a journalist, I’ve probably seen more than my share. But the spectacle of an armed mob, fueled by lies from the president himself, breaking into the U.S. Capitol, ransacking it, demanding that the vice president be hanged and causing five deaths, was perhaps the most sickening event I’ve ever seen.

With the Senate poised to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, it almost goes without saying that the violent insurrection struck at the core of our democracy in a way that other recent violent acts have not.

The event has sent shockwaves around the country. State capitols are also bracing for trouble on Jan. 20 when Joe Biden is sworn in as the new president. The Capitol Police and other law enforcement officials in Connecticut are gathering intelligence as the FBI warns that armed protests similar to the Jan. 6 event in Washington could happen at all 50 state capitols in the days leading up to the inauguration.

Officials in Connecticut staged a heavy security presence for a planned protest Sunday at the Capitol in Hartford, but it fizzled out when only a handful of protesters showed up. At least one of them was actually a counter-protester, CT NewsJunkie‘s Hugh McQuaid reported.

“It basically was an insurance policy to protect the integrity of our democracy and to protect the integrity of law enforcement’s ability to protect it,” said state Department of Emergency Service and Public Protection spokesman Brian Foley said, somewhat redundantly, of the heavy security.

After the dangerous armed incursion into the Michigan State Capitol by the so-called Wolverine Watchmen, I asked whether such a plot could happen here. My conclusion was that it was very unlikely, given that the militia movement and pro-Trump anti-government mentality is weaker here than in many other states.

I hope I’m right. Of course, if the group that attacked the Capitol in Washington is organized enough to have a competent command-and-control unit, it’s possible the organization could direct outsiders into states that don’t have enough Trumpers, white supremacists and QAnon believers to mount an effective insurrection on their own. Judging from the planning and coordinationand possible inside help – that went into the Washington attack, I’d say we should assume the worst and prepare for it.

I have an old friend who is well-connected in Republican circles. He told me several months ago that if Trump lost the election, things would turn ugly. I dismissed his prediction as fanciful. I hope I’m not wrong again in thinking Jan. 20 in Connecticut will be largely uneventful.

Contributing op-ed columnist Terry Cowgill lives in Lakeville and is managing editor of The Berkshire Edge in Great Barrington, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @terrycowgill or email him at tcowgill90@wesleyan.edu.


The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.