[January 6, 2021]
Dear RVU Family,
Today’s tragic events at the US Capitol have triggered emotions of shock and uncertainty for many of us. As a military physician, I had the honor to serve in the Office of the Attending Physician to Congress for one year within the Capitol, caring for Supreme Court Justices and members of Congress. Every day I walked those hallowed halls recounting the history, the trials, and the sacrifices made to preserve freedom and democracy for the entire world. As I shared these thoughts with our Provost, Dr. Forstein, he offered the following powerful statement which I felt important to share with the RVU Community.
On election day, Americans voted in record numbers for both presidential candidates. This is viewed as a great day for democracy, as the electoral turnout was not just a record number of voters, but a higher percentage of voters than in any previous election in our great country. Passionate citizens on all sides of the political spectrum exercised their franchise of the ballot. The fact that this occurred during a global pandemic should be a point of pride.
Since election day, all 50 states have certified their election results. Recounts occurred where it was appropriate, with no change in the outcomes. Legal challenges were filed and adjudicated without any changes in the outcomes.
The electoral college voted and those votes were to be counted today. Objections to certain state’s slate of electors were planned for today, and although unusual and unprecedented to the level planned, those objections were codified under law, and were preordained to fail, under the same law.
The first amendment to the US Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
As RVU leadership, we support the first amendment. Specifically, in relation to today’s events, that no law shall be limit the right of people to peacefully assemble, or to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The actions that occurred at the US Capitol today do not represent peaceful assembly. Violence, destruction of property, and intimidation have no place in our democracy and violate the social contract which governs a peaceful society. We condemn these actions, and the individuals and groups responsible for them.
The political process in the United States, this grand experiment in democracy has lasted for 244 years, but has been fragile before. From Shays’ rebellion in 1786-87, through the Civil War of 1861-1865, through the anti-war protests of the 1960s, the United States has withstood various insurrections and many episodes of civil unrest. We are confident that our institutions and rule of law will survive this episode, whether it is a one-day spasm, or an ongoing act of insurrection. We call on the protesters to lay down their weapons and other tools of violence and intimidation. We call on our political leaders on both sides of the aisle to change their rhetoric and call for calm. They need to make clear that this is not the time for divisive speech or calls for violence. There will be time in the future to decide whom to hold responsible, and how, for the events of today. The action now is to pursue a peaceful end to the violence.
We recognize that today’s events, and the environment leading up to them, can be anxiety provoking. There is power in self-reflection and self-care in all of its various forms. We urge all members of the RVU Community to utilize the counseling and mental health resources that are provided for you.