Heine Publishes Article on January 6 U.S. Capitol Riot

Joe Biden says the attack on the Electoral Vote count by a pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol was an “unprecedented assault” on US democracy; BU’s Rachel Meade agrees. (Photo by AP/John Minchillo)

Ambassador Jorge Heine, Research Professor at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, published an article in the inaugural issue of Protest, a new academic journal launched by Brill, addressing questions surrounding and motivations for the attack on the United States Capitol, which took place on January 6, 2021. 

In the article, titled “The Attack on the US Capitol: An American Kristallnacht,” Heine explores the factors that led to the attack on the Capitol within the context of the broader crisis of Western democracies and the rise of populism. Heine argues that the attack was the result of the “Big Lie,” that is, the assertion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. In his piece, he explains how this unfounded claim can be traced back to the historic division by race, class, and geography apparent in the U.S., a division that makes for a highly polarized polity.

An excerpt:

The storming of the Capitol on 6 January 2021, marked a turning point in US history. After a decade of polarized politics, the attack took things almost to the breaking point…What triggered the putsch of 6 January? Was it a spontaneous reaction by a crowd agitated by the fiery speech of a President, inciting his supporters to storm the Capitol? Or was this a long-in-the-making coup attempt, designed to hit the democratic process at a key point, and subvert it from the inside out? Was this a unique event in the turmoil affecting so many Western democracies, or, rather, should it be seen as part and parcel of a broader pattern of the populist revolt against established democratic institutions and practices?

Access the full article on Brill’s website.

Ambassador Jorge Heine is a Research Professor at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. He has served as ambassador of Chile to China (2014-2017), to India (2003-2007), and to South Africa (1994-1999), and as a Cabinet Minister in the Chilean Government. Read more about Ambassador Heine on his Pardee School faculty profile.