I texted a friend in Missouri, “Oh my God, new reports indicate a woman was shot and killed during the riots. This is insane.” A few minutes later, she responded that she wasn’t watching the ‘lamestream’ media coverage. Several more minutes passed and she texted Fox News reports the woman was ‘a peaceful demonstrator’ shot by ‘ANTIFA.’ (ANTIFA is a false allegation. CNN identified several notable figures in the crowd of rioters as conspiracy theorists linked to right-wing extremist movements, QAnon and the Proud Boys.)

During a 2016 campaign stop at Dordt College (Iowa), Trump stated, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s, like, incredible.” I thought then, as I do now, the logic is insane. Members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet issued harsh rebukes of the mayhem at the U.S. Capitol, but stopped short of criticizing the president, who had urged his supporters to take action.

Trump asked for a protest. Trump requested senators (and House representatives) to overthrow the election, to invalidate election results. What Trump, Hawley, and Cruz did (in a combined effort) was seditious. During the riot, a lot of physical damage occurred. More importantly, five people died (three by natural causes, one being shot). And whether you agree with these individuals or their politics is not the issue. The issue is, five people woke Wednesday morning to a new day. Four attended a rally. One (the Capitol Police Officer) was beaten with a fire extinguisher. By nightfall, all five died. Five families are missing a loved one. Husbands, wives, children, sisters, brothers are missing a member. These deaths are on Trump, Giuliani, Trump Jr., Hawley and Cruz.

Trump owns some form of responsibility for the life’s lost. Many argue, he lit the match that sparked the crowd to march. Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Trump Jr. railed against the legitimacy of the November election, repeatedly telling supporters the 2020 election was stolen, and that they must fight. Giuliana exhorted the crowd to action (‘trial by combat’) during the rally. Trump claimed he would march with them, but he ditched supporters, returned to the White House, and watched the mayhem on live television. In doing so, Trump watched as the crowd descended upon the Capitol building as representatives began certifying the election.

Senator Josh Hawley was one of the first to publicly state he would oppose election certification. Texas Senator Ted Cruz also opposed certification. After the rioting was complete, these senators returned to debate the 2020 electoral certification while the lost received nary a mention. Even after all the destruction, representatives continued stating portions of state electoral results in key battleground states were fraudulent. One hundred and forty-seven lawmakers voted to overturn the 2020 election results. What the hell happened to us?

“Frankenstein just tore down the doors to the palace,” U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri, told The Star. “One-third of the nation has bought into a bald-faced lie that they are living in a fact-free America.” Hawley and other Republicans who upheld the farce of widespread fraud knew Trump’s election claims were bogus.

In the basic tenet of most faiths, including both Buddhism and Christianity proclaim to do no harm and abstain from false speech. Yet, desperate to retain power, Trump and feckless allies planted a fake ideology and doubt, including baseless allegations of widespread fraud, and unconstitutional voting procedures that systematically propelled extremism. That extremism killed five people. 

My friend in Missouri texted early Thursday morning. ”So what. Rioting was worse here in Missouri (a reference to Ferguson, MO).” As I read my friend’s text, I passed a coworker’s “Make America Great Again” hat left atop a desk from earth March [2020]. “Make America Great Again?” I mumbled. “How about we go back to January 5th. Five people and families might think that would be great? Do that MAGA man?” We can’t. I sighed.

I ‘blocked my friend’s email and phone,’ destined to never hear from her again.