As I imagine and hope is the case with many of the readers at Inside Higher Ed, I am still ruminating over last week’s events at the Capitol. I had planned to write and publish a blog post about productivity last week, but I have to confess that my well-laid plans for the first week of 2021 were shot to hell when I spent several hours doom scrolling on Wednesday afternoon.
After reading Matt Reed’s (aka Dean Dad’s) plea to “write it down,” in reference to the ongoing events that included last week’s attack on the Capitol, I decided to do just that.
I thought about how to approach writing about what happened and decided that sharing some of the tweets I was reading would be a way of sharing how I experienced the afternoon.
So, this is what the afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 6 looked like:
I was upstairs in my work-from-home office. It was my first day back at work. It had been a fantastic morning. I had just come from a Boston universal pre-K advisory board meeting, and I was inspired to do all the things. I was catching up on email and had the New York Times live feed of electoral hearings going on my second monitor with commentary from reporters and editors. It was just after 2:00 p.m. when it started to fall apart.
At that point, I pulled up my TrumpWatch list on Twitter — the one I created the day after way back in November of 2016. I created this list to stop myself from endless doom scrolling on Twitter. I added some of my favorite journalists, writers, academics and editors to a list, and whenever I have felt the need to know what was going on in the last four-plus years, I would go to this list and spend five minutes or 60 catching up. I could quickly dive in but also get out just as quickly. With the election of Biden and Harris, I had been cautiously optimistic about the prospect of deleting this list, but I very quickly became grateful that I still had it.
I share some of my favorite tweets below:
@nhannahjones 3:36pm 1/3/2021 You can’t be shocked by Trump and yet have accepted the glaring anti-democracy policies of the last decade. Well, let me rephrase, it is a luxury to be shocked by Trump, and what very well may happen is Trump will fail, but the effort to erode democracy will succeed.
Nikole Hannah Jones is a New York Times reporter and published this three days prior to the event at the Capitol, but it was on heavy retweet that afternoon. For me the phrase “it is a luxury to be shocked by Trump” really resonated. If you are shocked, where have you been?
@davidfrum 2:15pm 1/6/2021 Violent pro-Trump insurrectionists have just interrupted debate in the US Senate.
David Frum is a staff writer at The Atlantic and author of Trumpocalypse. For me, this was the mark of the beginning of my afternoon of doom scrolling, talking to family and friends, and drinking red wine.
@chrislhayes 2:18pm 1/6/2021 I think it’s good police are acting with restraint. But let’s not kid ourselves about how this is usually dealt with when it’s a different set of protestors!
Chris Hayes is a news anchor at MSNBC and editor-at-large of The Nation. I include this tweet because it speaks to the Nikole Hannah Jones tweet and her point about the luxury to be white and oblivious and the racialized relationships we have with police.
@sethmoulton 2:29pm 1/6/2021 We are being told to shelter in place not because of a foreign terrorist attack but because of a domestic coup attempt. I expected this as a US Marine in Iraq. I never imagined it as a US Congressman in America.
Seth Moulton is a Massachusetts rep (my state), and this attack reminded me of the Oklahoma City bombing in so many ways. Seth’s tweet just reinforced that reminder.
@kailijoy 2:42pm 1/6/2021 When Democrats lost in 2016, they knitted pink hats and donated to Planned Parenthood.
Kaili Joy Gray is an executive editor at The American Independent. About this time, I needed a bit of humor, and she provided it. My response — I know! Right?
@sbg1 2:51pm 1/6/2021 There is an armed standoff on the floor of the House of Representatives right now. Donald Trump’s coup, supported by many members of the body now under attack.
Susan Glasser is a staff writer at The New Yorker. I include this as documentation. As I was tweeting, I was thinking of friends and colleagues in the U.K., Australia, Turkey and Egypt and how important it was to share this with the world.
@NewBlackMan 3:12pm 1/6/2021 No need for deep analysis here. This is #WhiteSupremacy and #ToxicMasculinity unhinged.
Mark Anthony Neal is a professor at Duke University, and the title of my post and my renamed watch list is a nod to this tweet. It is what it is.
@chescaleigh 3:15pm 1/6/2021 They don’t do active shooter drills at the US capitol? Or is that only for middle & high schoolers?
Franchesca Ramsey is a writer and former contributor to a show on Comedy Central and creator of the video “Sh*t White Girls Say … to Black Girls” (SWGSTBG). As the mother of a high school student, this resonated.
@thequeengeek 3:15pm 1/6/2021 A friend just said to me “Are we supposed to be working during the coup?” and honestly it was the most American thing I’ve ever heard.
Dani Indovino Cawley, a very funny woman. Again, as I was trying to work and watch Rome burn, this made me laugh out loud.
@NAACP 3:29pm 1/6/2021 And you thought “Taking A Knee” was too much!?!
The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) — again, context and the luxury of white obliviousness.
@BadiaAhad 3:58pm 1/6/2021 I don’t think diversity training can fix this.
Badia Ahad is an associate professor at Loyola University in Chicago. This was core higher ed and really made me think — how did we get here? How do we move forward?
@staceyabrams 7:46pm 1/6/2021 While today’s terrible display of terror and meanness shakes us, let’s remember: @ossoff, Jewish son of an immigrant & @ReverendWarnock, first Black Senator from Georgia, will join a Catholic POTUS & the first woman, Black + Indian VP in our nation’s capital. God bless America.
And then this tweet from Stacey Abrams was what I needed at the end of a very long afternoon and early evening.
I have renamed my TrumpWatch list on Twitter to the WhiteSupremacyToxicMasculinity Watch list, and I don’t plan on deleting it any time soon.
Mary Churchill is associate dean for strategic initiatives and community engagement at Wheelock College of Education and Human Development at Boston University, where she also teaches in the higher education administration program. She is co-author of When Colleges Close: Leading in a Time of Crisis (spring 2021, Johns Hopkins University Press), which details the merger of Wheelock College and Boston University.