• Reading Level 5
Science | History | Geography | Citizenship | PSHE

‘You almost had me murdered three weeks ago’

Is this a turning point in the struggle against white, male supremacy? By baring her emotions openly on Instagram, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also issued a challenge to Republicans. “This was the moment where I thought everything was... over. I thought I was going to die.” That is how Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described the moment that she was forced to hide from Capitol Hill rioters. In a long, often emotional Instagram video, she recounted closing herself off in the bathroom of her office as the rioters stormed the building. She said that from her hiding place she could hear an angry male voice in her office shouting: “Where is she?” She went on to launch an attack against Republicans who have called on Americans to “move on” from the riot and the Trump presidency, accusing them of using the “tactics of abusers”. The video showed remarkable openness for a frontline politician. Dressed casually and speaking directly to her phone camera, Ocasio-Cortez, often called just AOC, talked for the first time about suffering abuse earlier in her life, and about the “spiritual moment” in which she reflected on what would happen after her death. Exposing her trauma will be a comfort to all those who are terrified of white supremacist groups because it lets them know they are not alone. But in putting out the video, she has also made a dramatic political point. According to AOC and her followers, Donald Trump’s presidency was the result of a system of white male supremacy that has dominated American public life throughout the country’s history. For her, it is a system that champions power, violence, strength of will and has little respect for emotional openness, healing and mutual support. By talking so openly about her trauma, many agree AOC has shown that a very different kind of politics is possible. In recent weeks, Ocasio-Cortez has criticised the Republican Party for what she sees as its increasing tolerance for violent, white supremacist views. She has argued that Republican politicians can allow violence and white supremacy with impunity, facing no consequences from the party. In particular, she has clashed with Republican politician Ted Cruz, claiming that he “almost had me murdered”. Cruz was originally a critic of Trump, but in the last four years, he has become one of the former president’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders. He was one of two senators who attempted to overturn the 2020 election result on the day of the Capitol Hill riots, endorsing Trump’s false claims that the election had been rigged in Joe Biden’s favour. Some have argued that he is partly to blame for the violence. Many think that Cruz has changed his position because he hopes to pick up Trump’s supporters in his next run for the presidency in 2024. As the runner-up in the last Republican contest, he is in pole position to win the party’s nomination next time around. For AOC, Cruz demonstrates what is wrong with the modern Republican Party. Now that Republicans know they can appeal to a portion of the population by advocating white supremacy, she argues, they are openly embracing it. Is this a turning point in the struggle against white, male supremacy? Working through Yes, say some. They argue that AOC’s emotional honesty is already a body blow to white, male supremacy. Most people will never have seen a US politician talking so openly about past trauma and fearing for her life. She has captured the sense of terror and betrayal that many people of colour feel about Trump’s political movement, and that means she can rally a movement to fight it. Not at all, say others. They claim that AOC’s video is hardly unique: Joe Biden, an old white man with a mixed record on racial issues, has used the same language of trauma, especially over the death of his son Beau. The average American is looking for unity, not the anger and division that will arise from confronting Republicans over their support of Trump. KeywordsImpunity - Safety from punishment. It derives from a Latin word for penalty.

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