Guest Editorial: Owego might be small, but it’s a part of something much bigger

Guest Editorial: Owego might be small, but it’s a part of something much biggerTrump supporters that gathered at the Nation’s Capitol last week ended up storming the Capital on Wednesday. Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images, and provided by Irena Theresa Rose Horvatt Raia.

The insurrection at our nation’s Capitol might seem far removed from our small town lives, but it is not; nor is it an event that appeared out of nowhere. I write this after my post echoing this sentiment to the “Village of Owego – Community Forum”, a Facebook group promising uncensored access to community members, was suddenly taken down / hidden. Clearly that access does not apply to public criticism and community discussion of sedition, or the actions of the elected officials who enabled it. 

Before this post was censored, someone in the comments asked me a fair question: “What does this have to do with Owego,” and I am grateful I have the opportunity to answer here. It has everything to do with our town. My post read as follows: 

“We are living through an attempted violent coup at our nation’s Capitol today, at the hands of domestic terrorists, drummed up by the rhetoric of a sitting president. We are witness to the dangers of unchecked misinformation; dog whistling, and hateful rhetoric encouraged and allowed to continue by Republican politicians who stood to benefit from the support of a tyrant. We are witness to how news-turned-propaganda and widespread media illiteracy can lead to violence. We are witness to the extraordinary privilege afforded white people in this country. We are witness to the stunning but predictable hypocrisy of those from the “law and order / protect the sanctity of the Constitution” camp, applicable only to the already oppressed and downtrodden. We are witness to the astonishing dichotomy of how our media, how our police forces, how our politicians treat and frame this event as opposed to how it met with peaceful protests decrying the butchering of Black and brown bodies this past summer. We have a role in this and we must not forget or deny it.”

Owego is part of the United States of America, and yesterday our Capitol was attacked for doing the people’s business, our business; our halls of justice desecrated, our elected officials terrorized. We as a community should talk about our involvement in this, and if we do not want to talk about it, we should ask ourselves why. We should educate ourselves on the topics of media literacy and how public narratives are shaped and spread via shares on our social platforms. We should learn about political tactics, such as the idea of quietly starting fires you can later publicly take credit for putting out. We should evaluate our own level of civic engagement, and make sure we are registered to vote, and then do so [locally, not just during a presidential election]. 

We should all be talking about this at our dinner tables, examining how things got to this point. We should ask ourselves how the violent and divisive rhetoric of one man, enabled by those who stood to benefit from his political clout, amplified by social media, and bolstered by the fallacies of “fake news”, “alternative facts” and a general neo-conservative disdain for expertise, resulted in the modern American day that will live in infamy.

Domestic terrorists roamed our sacred halls, equipped with plastic cuffs for taking hostages. They ransacked the offices of elected officials and posed for selfies with police officers. They had weapons stockpiled, and two IEDs were found on the grounds. These terrorists were also carrying pro-Trump flags, Confederate flags, and Nazi white nationalist affiliated clothing and tattoos. They removed the American flag from our Capitol building and replaced it with a Trump 2020 flag instead. They were there, not to protest the continued oppression and murder of Black people at the hands of a taxpayer funded institution like the Black Lives Matter marches of the summer, which is what this domestic terrorist attack is falsely, and intentionally, being equated to, but because a sitting president told them to be there, because he did not win re-election and would not concede. 

This false equivalency should not, and cannot stand. Because if we bury our heads in the sand, if we disengage, we will be complicit in paving the way for this to happen again. Owego might be a small town, but we are part of something bigger than ourselves. So, as I said before, as I implore you to consider now: We have a role in this and we must not forget or deny it. 

(To contact Irena Theresa Rose Horvatt Raia, she can be reached by email to

6 Comments on "Guest Editorial: Owego might be small, but it’s a part of something much bigger"

  1. Well said

  2. Two things a e true at the same time. The pl at the capital were all in mob rage. The ppl that burned and looted businesses this summer were in..mob rage. Either are defensible. But as this writer shows, as the old saying goes, it depends on who’s ox is being gored as to how much rightous rage is shown.

  3. Jesse, My editorial very clearly points out the differences between BLM protests and the attempted coup at the Capitol, and the motivations behind both. The activism of Black Lives Matter over the summer was to raise awareness of and advocate for the dismantling of systems that enable a taxpayer funded institution to murder Black and brown Americans, with almost zero accountability, liability, or repercussions. The motivations behind the acts of domestic terrorism last week at the Capitol stemmed from the far less honorable desire to overthrow the government following an election with an undesired outcome, with the intent to take hostages and commit murder in order to do it.

    Over 93% of the BLM marches (in which over 26,000,000 people participated) were peaceful, including all of our local protests. The rioting and looting that you mention was overwhelmingly condemned by the left, including by myself as a local activist and organizer, and the group I work with. (It is also worth noting that fact of whether or not the rioting was actually performed by BLM activists is in question, as there is evidence that points to the movement being co-opted by extreme rightwing hate groups looking to take advantage of the size of the crowds.). By contrast, there was only one “Stop The Steal” march on Washington, and those rioters were armed and intent on taking hostages. They set up a gallows for public executions. They did it at the encouragement of President Trump. They wanted to kill people, not damage property, and not because they were protesting the long-standing injustices and murder of innocent people at the hands of police, but because they were angry their guy lost.

    They are NOT the same things at all.

  4. Your analysis is exaggerated, simplistic and ultimately flawed, at best—but, that’s the thing about opinions…

  5. Says someone hiding behind the tag “A Citizen”, but sure, go off on how flawed and simplistic my thoughts and efforts are without providing any of your own.

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