In America today, there is a vast divide. Americans, regardless of racial, geographical, or religious background, are divided on topics as varied as income inequality, social justice, tax policy, voter fraud, trans-rights, you name it. On January 6, 2021, in Washington DC, we saw that divide rise just a bit more to the surface. The question I’d like to consider is: were those people who entered the U.S. Capitol building that day domestic terrorists or were they simply fulfilling their “American duties” or their previous Oath of Office, an Oath that requires them to, “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic?”

On Wednesday, January 6, 2021 protestors unlawfully entered the U.S. Capitol building in our nation’s capital. Many of them proclaimed that they were there to stop the confirmation of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. Some of the people who entered the Capitol that day entered forcefully and others were seemingly let in the front door by the Capitol Police. Some who entered said that they were there to “Uphold their Oath.” Others were no doubt there just to be a part of the chaos.

I have little doubt that some, or all, of the Capitol Police Officers, certainly believed they were fulfilling their oath and obligation to America while protecting the mecca of American politics by preventing the protestors’ access to the United States Capitol building. Some politicians, in the days following, no doubt believed they were “defending the Constitution from all enemies, foreign or domestic” as they spoke out against the actions in a public outcry and called for more regulation and prosecution. And, some of the Federal Investigators with the FBI and other organizations no doubt believe that they are currently fulfilling their oath to “defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign or domestic” by seeking the prosecution of those who entered the Capitol unlawfully. 

I’m just left with a couple of questions from it all. First, what does, “I will support and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign or domestic” actually mean from a historical perspective? And secondly, how are people (some of whom are even on the same side of the aisle politically, socially, or economically) so divided on what it means to “abide by” that phrase?