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Thoughts Before an Invasion

By J. A. Mills

The Capitol after the attack
The Capitol after the attack. Photo credit: Victoria Pickering.

I’ve lived in Washington, DC, for twenty years, but I’ve only been inside the US Capitol a handful of times. For meetings, hearings, and receptions related to protecting wild tigers, rhinos, and bears.

I love this city for her vast green areas and restrictions on building height that bring attention to the sky, the dome of the Capitol, and the soaring Washington Monument. I also love her for her residents of all colors and beliefs, whom I overhear on the sidewalks speaking many of the languages of the world.

I have dear friends and respected colleagues who work for US government. I have worked with government agencies for years. There is no “deep state,” just as there are no Satan-worshipping child traffickers working out of the basement while middle-class families dine on pizza and wings at the Comet Ping Pong restaurant up the road from me.

As I write these words, I sit in my home just two miles from the White House and wait for the armed hordes of Trump supporters said to be headed our way to disrupt the inauguration of the duly elected next president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

I think back to my first visit to China in the late 1980s, when I saw firsthand the remnants of a violent “people’s” revolution. I think of the nearly empty store shelves, the churches turned into factories, Chinese acquaintances afraid to invite a foreigner into their homes for fear of government reprisals, and the bug in my hotel room used to monitor my private conversations.

I remember my thoughts before I went to sleep in my Hong Kong apartment on the night of July 1, 1997—the day Britain handed the colony back to Beijing. I recall my fear of waking the next morning to find tanks manned by the People’s Liberation Army patrolling the streets.

I think of the immigrants who allowed me to be born an American. On my mother’s side, a Scotsman sent as an indentured servant to the American colonies in 1651 who was lucky enough to marry his owner’s daughter. On my father’s, two Polish peasants whose hope for prosperity was destroyed by systemic discrimination wrought by American nationalists who deemed them part of a criminally inclined underclass that threated the country’s moral and genetic integrity. 

Now, some of my family members—people who carry my Polish immigrant DNA—support the man who has dog-whistled these neonationalists to my beloved city, vowing to shed blood to defy the will of the 81.3 million Americans who chose Biden as the forty-sixth president of the United States.

Law enforcement authorities have said the “insurgents” could deploy with “suicide-type aircraft” or killer drones. The Ohio National Guard is sending specialists in biological and chemical attacks. Are they thinking a dirty bomb is possible?

Photos of National Guard members sprawled throughout the Capitol yesterday remind me of images taken in April 2003 of US Army soldiers lounging about in Baghdad’s Republican Presidential Palace after the bloody fall of Saddam Hussein.

A journalist friend just called from Hoboken, New Jersey. She spent two years researching a story for National Geographic in Trump Country, which she calls “Pennsyltucky.” She said she felt “an edge in gun states” that came from a “readiness” to act on some amorphous threat to America. Trump clarified that clarion threat with his lies about the “deep state” and an election he has tried to steal from Joe Biden. My friend said she’s hopeful, because “the eyes of the FBI and the nation are now watching” for what comes next.

I wish I could share her hope. But I keep thinking of China. Of how cosmopolitan and affluent it was before Mao Zedong’s revolution. How the Chinese people then could not fathom the violence and ruin that would be brought by Mao Zedong and his henchmen. How Americans like me, a mere eight days ago, could not have fathomed that Trump’s henchmen would storm the Capitol. That what is called “the capital of the free world” would one day look like a war zone.

And so, I wait in fear, incredulous that I am praying members of the National Guard and Secret Service don’t go rogue and wondering, on an endless loop, how a sleezy, pathological liar with clown hair could have brought my great country to this precipice.


About the Author 

J. A. Mills has worked for TRAFFIC, World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, and Save the Tiger Fund. She is the author of Blood of the Tiger: A Story of Conspiracy, Greed, and the Battle to Save a Magnificent Species and lives in Washington, DC. Visit her website at Follow her on Twitter at @JAMillsAuthor.