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Message from the President: Attack on the U.S. Capitol

By Mark Mitsui, PCC President

Dear PCC Colleagues and Students,

As we are now all profoundly aware, many across the nation and the globe witnessed troubling and deeply unsettling events unfold in the U.S. Capitol yesterday. Violent actors took over the building in an effort to thwart or interrupt the process of the certification of electoral votes for President of the United States. Those responsible proclaimed their actions as “patriotism,” while government officials were forced to shelter in place during moments of armed stand-offs with security officials. The images and accounts are nearly incomprehensible as we brace against the deadliest period to date of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the collective exhaustion of our community from the social, economic, environmental and emotional challenges of the past year. It is not patriotism to undermine the will of millions of Americans who exercised their right to vote and to be represented in government, it is in direct opposition to love of this country and its ideals.  

In the earliest hours of the morning, Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, at the end of a long and harrowing day marked by chaos and violence from extremists. This is not the peaceful transfer of power we have become accustomed to as a nation, but serves as a grievous reminder that creating an inclusive democracy takes courage and resolve when confronted.   

Mark Mitsui

PCC President Mark Mitsui.

The circumstances under which this insurrection occurred is deeply troubling, and I believe that it reflects many of the very deep divisions that persist in our country. I am particularly struck by the disparity in treatment between those who descended upon the capitol and those who assembled in protest for racial equality in cities across the nation. That contrast recapitulates the historic chasm between the promises embedded within our founding documents and what our nation has traditionally delivered. We must continue to examine the deeply held assumptions about our communities and our institutions that label one form of protest dangerous and another form as mischievous.

This experiment called American Democracy is as imperfect and fragile as it is grand and visionary. I have said on a number of occasions that inclusive democracy is an aspiration, and it is a verb; a process that must be engaged, renewed and debated everyday. It must also rest on a set of shared values and commitments: to understand and believe in the intentions of the U.S. Constitution; to believe in the process of representative government, by and for ALL the people; to understand that it is not only our right, but our responsibility, to engage our differences through reasoned discourse and deliberation. This is all the more important because the true force of this vision is not physical, but moral, not the chaotic physical force we saw yesterday but a coherent moral force that undergirds a set of universal principles that we hold as self evident and inalienable, even as our nation still struggles to realize them. Transforming democracy into its more representative and just ideal remains a perilous enterprise, as a diverse and diversifying society claims their rightful role in shaping and defining its values. There is much more work to be done.

I hope for the health, safety, and well being of those who live and work in D.C. right now. And I hope this destructive display will provide valuable lessons about the kind of democracy we all should want to participate in.

As you have been doing throughout these months and through the many crises we’ve confronted, please reach out to your teams and to our students. Display compassion, care and flexibility. Seek emotional safety for yourself as you attempt to navigate our learning environment this first week of the term. This current sociopolitical moment is inevitably continuing to activate stress and anxiety; please engage college resources that exist for individual and community care.

Despite being brutally attacked, our democracy, though bruised and somewhat wobbly, still stands. I have hope. And a major reason for that hope is our students. To our PCC students, we hear your stories, your hopes and fears. Thanks, in part, to our collective community of care, I see a kindled passion for a true democracy in countless kindred hearts. It illuminates for me the possibilities of democracy’s next dawn.     

Please take good care,

PCC President Mark Mitsui