On January 7, 2021, Logos President and author of “Words on Fire: The Power of Incendiary Language and How to Confront It,” Helio Fred Garcia was quoted in an article in Christian Science Monitor on his personal response to the storming of the U.S. Capitol by insurrectionists on January 6. In the article, people from across the country react to the insurrectionists attack and reflect on what this means.
Below is an excerpt from this article:
Take the American story of Helio Fred Garcia. His family emigrated from Brazil in the 1960s. As a New York City debate champion in the 1970s he won a coveted spot as a congressional page during the Watergate summer of 1974.
He had come from a country with a military dictatorship, and when President Richard Nixon resigned, he thought there might be tanks in the streets.
“And it didn’t happen,” he says.
Six years ago, he attended a reunion of former pages at the U.S. Capitol. He felt a bit overwhelmed.
“When my wife and I were able to walk onto the House floor, tears ran down my cheeks – I’m tearing up a little right now,” says Mr. Garcia, now president of the crisis management firm Logos Consulting Group, and author of “Words on Fire: The Power of Incendiary Language and How to Confront It.”
So, unsurprisingly, after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building on Wednesday his emotions ran especially deep.
“I was heartbroken when I saw my sacred chamber being desecrated and attacked . . . For us, it really is a sacred place. It is a temple of democracy,” he says.
On the night of January 6, 2021, Helio Fred Garcia was quoted from his book, Words on Fire: The Power of Incendiary Language and How to Confront It, in a CNN op-ed about the storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters.
In Words on Fire, Garcia explains the pattern of how the president’s incendiary language inspires some people to commit violence against rivals, critics, and dehumanized and demonized groups. The CNN article notes how the storming of the US Capitol was part of this escalating pattern, and that the move by social media platforms to restrict or shut President Trump’s posts comes too late.
The article reads:
“In addition to lying more as he realized he could get away with it, [President Trump] also began to use more abusive language. As Helio Fred Garcia wrote in his 2020 book “Words on Fire: The Power of Incendiary Language and How to Confront It,””over time, the frequency and intensity of Trump’s language (on social media as well as in speeches and with the media) changed. Without anyone or anything to stop it … he became more aggressive and his language more directly incendiary when discrediting his political rivals.” And, predictably, Garcia noted, after Trump insulted members of different groups, hate crimes against them spiked. So, let’s be clear: This is not the first time he has incited violence.”