The New Narrative of the Nation
As we drew near our event’s conclusion, Rachel Brown asked us two critical questions: What are the seeds that are being planted? Is the path we want to walk down? In essence, moving forward from the events of January 6th requires us to lay down the groundwork for a nation with new norms and values. It’s up to us to decide this path– what measures are we taking to build our better future?
We can understand the events that unfolded on January 6th and the future we hope to create by taking a look into the prevailing narratives of the nation. For many of us, memories of January 6th are marked by our own perceptions of the people who participated in the attack. However, these perceptions aren’t always accurate. As Jason Dempsey explained, data shows that only 13% of participants at the insurrection belonged to fringe groups, and a majority came from counties that had, firstly, voted for Biden, and secondly, had experienced widespread demographic change within the last few years. This data shows us that many of the Capitol Attack participants were motivated by fears like job loss or “the great replacement.”
Understanding these factors can help us identify warning signs of a future attack. NewAmerica‘s report analyzes online and offline early warning signs of the potential for election-related violence leading up to the Capitol attack.
So, how do we counter this “scare script”- the prevailing narrative that causes us to view each other with fear? One solution is driving conversations that shift our narratives about the nation. Per Jason Dempsey, one step towards this is de-nationalizing our conversations. This begins by avoiding the recently common characterization of our nation as one within a “civil war narrative,” because the idea of violence can beget more violence. Rather than perpetuating the idea of violent neighbors and a violent nation, we can hold productive conversations that further encourage connection and empathy.
As we seek to define a new narrative for America, what values and norms do we hope to imbue? We encourage you to hold conversations with your friends, family, and neighbors to identify this as a collective. Read on for more guidance on how to hold conversations about January 6th.